30 Things to Do In Nagano

Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends


Source: Reginald Pentinio

Most people say that the top places to see in Japan are Tokyo and Kyoto, however, these aren’t the only places to see. When you travel to Japan, you should definitely see Tokyo and Kyoto but you shouldn’t other places, like Nagano. Nagano, with its many castles, museums and restaurants, truly depicts the Japanese tradition. So, here are the top 30 things to do in Nagano:

1. Visit Nagano Temple

Source: lint Atkinson

How about starting your tour to Japan with Zenko-ji temple, which is one of the most important and popular temples in Japan. It was found in the 7th and has the first Buddhist statue ever. Due to its wide history, the temple is visited by millions of people every year. It is a huge mixture of shrines, memorials, and gates. You can walk freely in the temple. The monks are very friendly and will explain you the temple’s history in English. So visit this temple.


  • Name: Zenko-ji Temple
  • Address: Motoyoshicho-491, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 380-0851, Japan
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Website: http://www.zenkoji.jp/ENGLISH/about/

2. Visit Kagami Lake

Source: Yosuke Tsuruta

Lake-Kagami is another worth visiting place on your tour to Nagano. The complete name of the lake is Kagami-ike, which is a perfect fitting. Kagami means “pond” and ike means “mirror”, so the lake means the mirror pond. And it does exactly look like a mirror. You can walk around the lake and capture amazing reflections throughout the day. The lake is about a 20-minute walk from the nearest bus station.


  • Name: Kagami Lake
  • Address: Togakushi, Nagano 381-4101 , Nagano Prefectur
  • Opening hour: Open 24 hours

3. Visit Togakushi Shrine Okusha

The Togakushi Shrine consists of a lower, a middle and an upper shrine in the forested mountains present north of Nagano center city. The walk in the upper shrine is quite peaceful and without any difficulty. Even though it is a small shrine, you can feel the positive energy all around the shrine. You should also visit the middle and the lower shrine if you have some time. The shrine is a bit far from the station, however, you would enjoy the walk in the forest towards the shrine.


  • Name: Togakushi Shrine
  • Address: Togakushi, Nagano 381-4101, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Website: http://myoko-nagano.com/togakushi/

4. Visit Sanada Treasure Museum

The Sanada Treasure Museum exhibits the life and time of the Sanada family. The Sanada family was a popular family which expanded their influence during the Edo period. The Sanada treasure museum exhibits the treasures of Sanaa family. It also has a beautiful garden where you can enjoy your walk. The museum has some great artifacts which you have to see to believe. The museum is about 30 minutes from the JR Nagano station.


  • Name: Sanada Treasure Museum
  • Address: 4-1 Matsushiromachimatsushiro, Nagano 381-1231, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

5. Walk though Matsushiro

Source: zwottel_

Matsushiro is a nice suburb present about 12 km to the south of Nagano. It is a town full of Samurai houses, gardens, and temples. It is an ideal place for skiing and discovering hot springs. The hotels here are beautiful and much cheaper than the Nagano City. Just go around the town and take a look at the former samurai residences, museums, and other buildings. There is so much to see here, so you shouldn’t miss it.


  • Name: Matsushiro
  • Address: Nagano, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: Open 24 hours

6. Shop at Midori Nagano

If you want to shop at a credible place in Nagano, choose Midori. It is a big shopping mall with almost everything that you need. You can find fashion shops, beauty shops, bookshops and lunch shops. The staff is quite friendly and gives guidance to the visitors. They also provide strollers and wheelchairs for the handicapped. The metropolitan hotel and the railway station are quite close to the shopping center.


  • Name: Midori Nagano
  • Address: 1 Minamichitose, Nagano 380-0823, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Website: http://www.eki-midori.com.e.pm.hp.transer.com/nagano/

7. Visit Shinano Art Museum

The Shinano Art Museum is just a short walk from Zenko-ji temple and has a rotating exhibition of art with various themes. The artworks are done mostly by artists who were born in or related to Nagano Prefecture. The Museum also exhibits the works of Higashiyama Kaii, who was a popular artist. The only problem at the museum is that most of the script are mostly in Japanese. But still, it is worth your time and money.


  • Name: Zenko-ji Temple
  • Address: 1-4-4 Hakoshimizu, Nagano 380-0801, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

8. Ski at Shiga Kogen

Shiga Kogen is another worth visiting site in Nagano. The region is popular for its diverse ski terrain and impressive panoramas. The area comprises 19 interlinked ski resorts covered with unending trails. It was also the site for the first ever Olympic snowboard race. You should ski freely because the instructors there are quite experienced and passionate. The surrounding national park also gives the visitor for a good opportunity for off-shore adventure.


  • Name: Shiga Kogen
  • Address: 1108 Asahimachi, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Website: http://www.shigakogen.gr.jp.e.qn.hp.transer.com/

9. Visit Togakushi Forest Botanical Garden

Togakushi Forest Botanical Garden, which covers an area of 771 hectares, features many pine forests which are visited by wild birds of all kinds. The place is a splendid visit if you want to be accustomed to both the spiritual and botanical side of Japan. There are mini-bus tracks inside the garden and cycling routes are also available. There are plenty of garden and trees to spend your time in, so, you should visit this garden.


  • Name: Togakushi Forest Garden
  • Address: 3510-35 Chusha, Togakushi, Nagano 381-4101, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

10. Visit Chokokuji Temple

The Chokokuji temple in Nagano is quite popular with lots of trees and plants in the surrounding regions. The place is easily accessible due to the nearby Nagano station. As you enter the gate, be ready to be mesmerized by the beauty of the gate, the fine stairs, and the rooms. It is quite a peaceful and quiet place. You can just sit there and dream.


  • Name: Chokokuji Temple
  • Address: 1015-1 Matsushiromachi-Matsushiro, Nagano 381-1231, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

11. Chibikko Ninja Village

If you have kids with you, you can visit the Chibukku Ninja Village in Nagano. It is a unique ninja amusement park. The visitors can borrow Ninja costumes and Shuriken darts. There are all kinds of ninja facilities with exciting names, like Ninjutsu Yashiki, Karakuri Meiro, Shuriken Datsu and Ninja Soraromu. The place is about one hour away from JR Nagano station by bus.


  • Name: Chibikko Ninja Village
  • Address: 3193 Togakushi, Nagano 381-4101, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

12. Nagano City Joyama Zoo

This zoo is a great trip for you if you have kids under the age of 10 years. The admission is absolutely free. Although the zoo is a bit small, there are every kind of animals from Japanese monkeys to penguins to squirrels. The staff there is quite friendly and takes good care of the animals. It isn’t the main trip but should be considered as a side trip and a place to relax. So you should visit this place.


  • Name: Nagano City Joyama Zoo
  • Address: 2-1-19 Uematsu, Nagano 380-0802, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

13. Visit Matsumoto Castle

Source: Jon Robson

The Matsumoto castle in Nagano is one of Japan’s original completed castles. It is a castle built on the plain rather than mountains or hills. This castle is the national treasure of Japan. The castle has many rooms inside. The most thrilling thing is the area of armors and Rifles from the Sengoku period. The castle is available for public parking and close to the Nagano station. The admission fee is around 300 yen, so you should visit the castle.


  • Name: Matsumoto Castle
  • Address: 4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture 390-0873, Japan
  • Opening hour: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Website: http://www.matsumoto-castle.jp/lang/

14. Visit Narai-juku

Narai-juku is a small perfect town in the Nagano prefecture. It almost seems like a historic film set in the railway lines. The main reason probably is that it has a quiet and soothing atmosphere, which is quite different from the Japan’s main cities. The place has some of the best traditional Edo style houses. The place gives you a great view of old Japan. There are public parking places and restrooms in the place. So visit the place without any fears.


  • Name: Narai-juku
  • Address: Naraijuku, Shiojiri 399-6303 , Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: Open 24 hours

15. Visit Suwa Grand Shrine

Suwa Grand Shrine is a grand shrine which is made of four different complexes. It is one of the oldest shrines in Japan and is over 1,200 years old. A grand festival is held in the place every 6 years, in which people from all around the world come to participate. There is also an ancient popular tree where you can just lie down and relax. The place is just about 20-minute walk from the Matsumoto station. So you should visit this place.


  • Name: Suwa Grand Shrine
  • Address: 393-0000, 5793, 393-0000, Japan
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

16. Visit Tsumago Juku

Source: Masayuki (Yuki) Kawagishi

If you want to go back in time, you should visit this town named Tsumago Juku. Once you enter the town, you will feel as if you have gone back to the Edo period 300 years ago. There are about 65 Edo style houses on one street. When you walk through the streets, you would see many Edo style houses. The area welcomes tourists and hiking is offered to the tourists. The area is about 15 minutes from Shiojiri station by bus.


  • Name: Tsumago Juku
  • Address: Azuma, Kiso-gun, Nagiso-machi, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Website: http://www.tumago.jp/english/

17. Visit Chausuyama Dinosaur Zoo

The Chausuyama Dinosaur park is a great place to visit if you have young kids with you. It is a great way to spend your day if the weather is nice. There are free entry and beautiful location. You can just walk in the park and relaxes. There are many statues of ancient dinosaurs in the park which will keep the kids interested. The place is about 20 minutes from the Shinonoi station by bus.


  • Name: Chausuyama Dinosaur Zoo
  • Address: Shinonoiokada, Nagano 381-2225, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Website: http://chausuyama.com/kyouryu/

18. Visit Juneji Temple

The Junenji temple in Nagano is another worth visiting site. The main reason behind this is probably that as you enter inside the temple, you will experience peace and tranquility. You will be free from the outside world. There is the main hall inside the temple in which the history of the temple has been introduced. The temple is just a street or two away from the Nagano station. So you should visit it.


  • Name: Juneji Temple
  • Address: 1568 Nishigocho, Nagano 380-0845, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

19. Visit Saikoji Temple

If you are in Nagano, you should also visit the Saikoji temple. It is a beautiful temple which you would find on your way to the Nagano station. The temple isn’t that much large as the other temples, but still it is wonderful. It looks somewhat divine. There is a beautiful parent-child picture in the main room of the temple. The monks in the temple are quite nice and ready to help you. So you should visit this temple.


  • Name: Saikoji Temple
  • Address: 1398 Kitaishidocho, Nagano 380-0826, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

20. Visit Mizuno Museum

The Mizuno museum is quite a popular museum in Nagano. There is a beautiful garden at the entrance and a walk-through gate. As you enter the gates, you will get a feeling of cleanliness as you experience the Japanese paintings. You should also bring your children because they will enjoy the Evangelion museum. There are many sports and Olympic goods also exhibited in the museum. So visit this place if you are interested in sports.


  • Name: Mizuno Museum
  • Address: 6-2-20 Wakasato, Nagano 380-0928, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Website: http://www.mizuno-museum.jp/

21. Dine at Misoya

Source: kennejima

Misoya is one of the few restaurants in Nagano that serves good food and is easily accessible because it is just a 3 minute-walk from the nearby Nagano station. The atmosphere there is quite nice with music not too loud. The staff speaks both Japanese and English and is very polite. The restaurant serves a variety of dishes from pork to meat to soup. So you should definitely dine at this place.


  • Name: Menya Takeda
  • Address: 1362 Minaminagano Suehiro Cho, Nagano 380-0837, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

22. Visit Matsumoto City Museum

If you want to see ancient art, visit Matsumoto City Museum of Art. This museum is easily accessible as it is at a distance of 12 minute-walk from the nearby Nagano station. The museum is dedicated to art appreciation, language, exchange, and expression. There are works of famous artists in the museum, like Shinzan Kamijo, Yayoi Kasuma, and Kazuo Tamuro. However, you can’t take photos as cameras aren’t allowed in the museum. Still, you can appreciate the art while you are there.


  • Name: Matsumoto City Museum
  • Address: Motoyoshicho-491, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 380-0851, Japan
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Website: http://welcome.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp/contents03+index.id+2.htm

23. Dine at Uzraya

Located just close to the Togakushi Shrine, Uzuraya is present with several hundred years old history. This is probably the best place to eat soba ramen. This is obvious from the line of people present at the gate. The soba served at the restaurant is absolutely delicious and the flavors are mixed quite nicely. The price is quite reasonable and the staff is nice too. You should go there in the early hours because the place gets crowded quickly.


  • Name: Uzuraya
  • Address: 3229 Togakushi, Nagano 381-4101, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

24. Visit Saishoin Temple

Source: Rosino

You should visit the Saishoin temple on your visit to Nagano. This temple is an amazing site to see with cherry blossoms all around. The site is breathtaking with beautiful architecture. The place isn’t too crowded during the early hours but becomes crowded during noon. There is a pagoda in the temple to honor those who died in a battle many decades ago. There are coffee shops nearby where you can drink. The temple is about a 20-minute walk from the nearby Hirosaki train station.


  • Name: Saishoin Temple
  • Address: 63 Doyamachi, Hirosaki 036-8196, Aomori Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 25. Dine at Shinshu Soba No Kusabue

Shinsui Soba No Kasubue is another great restaurant to eat soba. The taste of the soba is quite good and they serve free drinks along with it. Mix the noodle with cold sauce and you will enjoy the taste. The restaurant also serves Walnut buckwheat which is also quite delicious. The restaurant is on the third floor of the shopping complex attached to the Nagano station. You should go to the restaurant early because it gets full quickly.


  • Name: Zenko-ji Temple
  • Address: 1-22-6 Minami Chitose | Midori Nagano Ogosso Dining, Nagano 380-8543, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

26. Visit Hosho-ji Temple

If you feel a bit spiritual and ecstatic during your visit, go to Hosho-ji temple. The current temple is the original one built by Fujiwara No Tadahira in 925. As you climb the steep hills and enter the temple, you will notice two dogs welcoming you at the gate. You will notice a beautiful symmetry in the main rooms. Considering the fact that it is just 15 minutes from the nearby train station, you should definitely visit this place.


  • Name: Hosho-ji temple
  • Address: 9-1-33 Hisagi, Zushi 249-0001 , Kanagawa Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

27. Dine at Sobatei Aburaya

You should visit Sobatei Aburaya if you want to eat some quality soba. This restaurant isn’t only appreciated by the locals but also by the people who come for sightseeing. However, the restaurant is a bit expensive and the prices start from 900 yen. Other than that, everything is just perfect. The staff is quite friendly and courteous, the food is delicious and it’s just 2 to 3 minutes from the Nagano station.


  • Name: Togakushi Shrine
  • Address: West Plaza Nagano Building 1F, 1355-5 Suehirocho, Nagano 380-0825, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Website: http://n-aburaya.com/sobatei/

28. Visit Rendai-ji temple

The Rendai-ji temple is another beautiful temple in Nagano. The temple is extremely quiet and beautiful. You can pray in tranquility and there is nice parking spot too. The main hall is a bit small but is built with an aesthetic sense. The chief priest and the monks are all quite helpful and courteous. They will show you the whole place and explain the history of the place. There are food shops around the temple where you can feast yourself.


  • Name: Rendai-ji temple
  • Address: 855 Kojimayuga, Kurashiki 711-0901, Okayama Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

29. Dine at Sukitei

Another restaurant which you should consider visiting in Nagano in Sukitei. The restaurant serves Japanese cuisine. The great thing about the restaurant is that you can just walk into the restaurant without any reservations and get served within minutes. The beef and vegetables there are quite delicious. The restaurant has private dining rooms and it is also open on Sundays. So visit this restaurant and enjoy the food.


  • Name: Sukitei
  • Address: 112-1 Minaminagano, Nagano 380-0837, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • Website: http://www.sukitei.com/

30. Drink Coffee at Caffe Terra

If you miss drinking coffee and you are in Nagano, visit Café Terra and enjoy the coffee of your dreams. This is one of the best places for coffee in Japan. You can also try the apple gelato which is rich in apple flavor. The owner is also present at the shop and you can have a great chat with him and register any complaints you have about the coffee. The shop is close to Zenko-ji temple. So if you are visiting Zenko-ji temple, you should drink this coffee.


  • Name: Mathew San
  • Address: 484 Motoyoshicho, Nagano 380-0851, Nagano Prefecture
  • Opening hour: 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Website: http://caffeterra.lolipop.jp/

Nagano is a true heaven for the tourists. It has everything to offer from the temples to the restaurants to parks. If you want to gain spirituality, you can visit the temples. If you are hungry, you can dine at the restaurants. Nagano depicts the true Japanese culture. So you should visit this place.

Have a good trip and travel!