• Koto Instrument Live and Experience near Matsumoto Castle Started!

    A local koto instructor Misato Shirasawa started koto music instrument experience and live show near Matsumoto Castle in English and Japanese from this August. She graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, Department of Traditional Japanese Music. You can listen to or experience koto music on Tue, Thu, Sun (except for August 13), starting 11 am, 1 pm, 2:20 pm, 3:40 pm. Refer to here for details. Now she is looking for free of charge foreign trial experiencer who live in Japan until September. If you are insterested as a trial participant, contact otowakokoro.jp@gmail.com or phone: 09042226211. You can hear her play on

    August 3, 2023

  • Shinano Railway Banzai Pass

    Shinano Railway Banzai Pass — 2 day pass good for anywhere on Shinano Railway between Shinonoi and Karuizawa including our station Togura as well as Ueda and Komoro, and the Kita- (North) Shinano Line from Nagano to Myoko Kogen including Kurohime, gateway to Lake Nojiri. The pass is only 2000 yen and is available only to foreigners, details here. Our guests, H-san, used the pass today to go from Togura to Ueda to see the castle, then on to Karuizawa for shopping. Tomorrow they will go to Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City and then on to Kurohime for Lake Nojiri. All for 2000 yen — what a bargain! Thank you, Shinano Railway!

    July 31, 2023

  • New Ryokans of Nagano Podcast is Live!

    2nd episode of my new Ryokans of Nagano podcast is live! Special thanks to Miyuki-san and Akinori Tsuji for sharing your story about running the lovely Tsuji Ryokan in mystical Togakushi. I hope everyone gets a chance to listen to this latest episode — I think it’s extra special, and will give you some insight into what it’s like being a ryokan proprietress as well as why Togakushi is famous for its spirituality, soba and … Togakure-Ryu.

    October 14, 2022

  • Nagano City Vege-Map has been featured!

    A college girls group, NinNin, has just made this map!! Let’s see the map and use it!  These choices are foreign friendly shops which the students visited and talked to the owner about the concept. They are Seisen Jogaguin College students who live in the city. They started learning tourism with NINJA Project (NPO) in the class, then they decided to make a circle called NinNin, to make maps for foreign visitors in 2016. They made City Walking Map last year, then the new leaders Manaka and Moemin have been researching the vegetarian map with some new members.The design is also made by Moemin.   Following PDF files are available to be downloaded. Vegemaptop. vegemapback

    April 14, 2018

  • The Harvest Moon from Nagano’s Top 2 Moon-Viewing Locations

    From anywhere in the world, the Harvest Moon is spectacular to see.  Here in Nagano Prefecture, we have 2 locations that are particularly famous for viewing the moon:  Matsumoto Castle in central Matsumoto City and the “Tagoto-no-Tsuki” Obasute terraced rice fields in Chikuma City. Matsumoto Castle has a ‘tsukimi-yagura’ (moon-viewing tower), from where you can see the moons three-fold:  one in the sky, one reflected in the moat, and one reflected in … well, any guesses where? (PIcture courtesy of Keener-san) (Matsumoto Castle is located 1.4km from Matsumoto Station) At the Obasute rice fields, the number of moons you can see doesn’t stop at 3.  The terraces are known as “Tagoto-no-Tsuki” meaning the moon reflects in the individual rice fields.  I think you need some of the local sake in order to see that properly.  Oh, there’s a hint for …

    October 6, 2017

  • Volcanic Activity Warning: Kamikochi’s Mt. Yakidake

    Volcanic Activity Warning: Mt. Yakidake, one of the most popular climbs from Kamikochi, has experienced higher-than-average volcanic activity lately. As August 11th is the “Mountain Day” holiday in Japan, many people will likely go mountain climbing in Nagano. If you choose Mt.Yakidake, we recommend proper precautions such as a helmet, and to stay away from the vents / volcanic smoke. Japan’s government has not changed Mt. Yakidake’s volcanic level from 1 (lowest) as of yet. https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170810-00003743-cbcv-soci   Info on climbing Mt. Yakidake here: https://www.unique-nagano.com/detail.php?id=301

    August 10, 2017

  • The Must-Have Map to Walk the Nakasendo

    Walking the Nakasendo road through the Kiso Valley is becoming increasingly popular.  Fortunately, the Kiso Tourist Federation has a new booklet that clearly details the trail as well as points of interests (and toilets!) along the way. Pick up your copy of this essential map at the tourist information center at Tsumago-juku (post town). Please let us know in the comments section how your trek goes!  

    May 26, 2017

  • Okususobana Nature Garden in Kinasa

    written byJunko Kinasa is hidden village located between Nagano City and Hakuba Village. It takes only 20mins by car from the center of Nagano City.   Once you visit Kinasa area you might meet old romantic legend  ‘Kijo Momiji’ story. Visiting the museum ‘Kinasa Furusato Shiryokan’, you can see hand making floats.   Especially it’s amazing to watch wood carving art works on them.   In spring people use one of them in the  local spring  festival even now. There is one of the popular Oyaki Shop in Kinasa. They use local natural vegetables. From the center of the village, you can take bus to Okususobana Nature Garden.  

    May 19, 2017

  • Chikuma Riverside Park in Obuse

    witten by Junko Along the embankment of the Chikuma River you can see the big yellow fields!   There are also  600 double-fold cherry  trees over 4 km.  They will bloom soon. Chikumagawa Riverside Park near Obuse Bridge. About 20 minutes on foot from Obuse Station or about 5 minutes by bus “Ohanami Shuttle”

    April 24, 2017

  • Ueda Castle’s 1000 cherry trees are in full bloom!

      Ueda Castle, especially its original tower and impressive main gate, will impress you with its massive size and stonework. The castle grounds are famous for the cherry blossoms in April and the colorful foliage in the fall. Ueda City’s “Omotenashi Bushotai” samurai performances take place at scheduled times throughout the year. Two of the recreated towers are open for touring (entrance fee required).   As with most similar castles in Japan, Ueda Castle was torn down after the Meiji Restoration. Many of its timbers were then repurposed to construct other buildings in the area. When civic leaders decided to rebuild, after an exhaustive search they tracked down many of those timbers and re-repurposed them for the castle’s reconstruction. Despite being recreated relatively recently (the main gate was finished in 1996), the use of the original posts and beams adds …

    April 14, 2017