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Nagano Prefecture

Nagano Prefecture in Koshinetsu DistrictNagano PrefectureNagano Prefecture is positioned roughly in the center of Honshu island.
It is an inland prefecture, and has many mountains and some basins.
It is one of the large prefectures, then the length from north to south is about 220 km and the width from east to west is about 130 km.

Nagano Prefecture has three large mountain ranges with many peaks as much as 2,500-3,200 meters high.

Along the prefecture's western border, Hida Mountains runs. The popular name is "Northern Alps".
From the center toward southwest, Kiso Mountains runs. The popular name is "Central Alps".
Along the prefecture's southeastern border, Akaishi Mountains runs. The popular name is "Southern Alps".
These are collectively called "Japanese Alps".

The mountains are steep but beautiful, so a lot of climbers visit there during all seasons.

The dividing ridge runs across the prefecture, so the rivers in northern part of the prefecture flow toward Sea of Japan and the ones in southern part flow toward Pacific Ocean.

In the south part of the prefecture, Kiso River flows between Northern Alps and Central Alps, and Tenryu River flows between Central Alps and Southern Alps.
Each river forms a great valley.
We sometimes call the valleys "Kiso Valley" and "Ina Valley" respectively.

The prefectural capital is Nagano city in the northern part of the prefecture. In 1998, Olympic Winter Games was held here.
We can come here in 1 hours and 40 minutes from Tokyo by Hokuriku Shinkansen.
And from Nagoya, we can come here within 3 hours by limited express of JR Chuo Line.

There is an airport in Matsumoto city located in the center of the prefecture, and we can come there from Shin-Chitose (Sapporo), Osaka and Fukuoka by airplane.

In Nagano Prefecture, we can enjoy the highland nature such as beautiful mountains, lakes, forests and hot springs.

Go! Nagano : Nagano Prefecture Official Tourism Guide
Matsumoto Welcomes you

The climate in Nagano city
Highest Temperature (deg C) 3.5 4.7 9.5 17.3 22.5 25.7 29.1 31.0 25.6 19.2 13.0 6.8
Lowest Temperature (deg C) -4.1 -3.8 -0.8 4.9 10.5 15.8 20.0 21.3 16.9 9.7 3.1 -1.6
Mean monthly rainfall (mm) 51 50 59 54 75 109 134 98 129 83 44 46

The climate in Suwa
Highest Temperature (deg C) 3.6 4.7 9.2 16.1 21.1 24.3 27.8 29.3 24.4 18.2 12.5 6.9
Lowest Temperature (deg C) -5.9 -5.5 -1.5 4.2 9.8 14.8 19.0 20.0 15.9 8.6 2.3 -2.8
Mean monthly rainfall (mm) 44 51 90 87 114 164 191 129 192 112 70 35

Tourist spots in Nagano Prefecture

Nagano prefecture map

North area

Mount Asama /1/
Karuizawa /2/
Kaikoen (Ruins of Komoro Castle) /3/
Anrakuji temple /4/
Sugadaira highland /5/
Zenkoji temple /6/
Obuse town /7/
Shiga highland /8/
Nozawa hot spring resort /9/
Lake Nojiri /10/
Mount Togakushi /11/

Central area

Yatsugatake Mountains /21/
Tateshina highland /22/
Kirigamine highland /23/
Lake Suwa /24/
Matsumoto Castle /25/
Azumino /26/
Utsukushigahara highland /27/

Along Northern Alps

Kamikochi /31/
Norikura highland /32/
Nishina Three Lakes /33/
Hakuba /34/

Along Kiso Valley

Narai post station /41/
Mount Ontake /42/
Nezame-no-toko gorge /43/
Tsumago and Magome post stations /44/

Along Ina Valley

Mount Kiso-Komagatake /51/
Tenryukyo gorge /52/

Scenic or Nature / Park or Garden / Resort / City, Town or Village / Quarter or Street /
Temple or Shrine / Museum or Laboratory / Market or Commercial facility / Factory /
Other Building or Construction / Historic place / Remains / World Heritage Site

Main events in Nagano Prefecture

Nozawa Fire FestivalNozawa Fire Festival (January 15th)

It is the festival held in Nozawa-Onsen village located at the north end of Nagano Prefecture.
Before a few days, the village men log some big trees from a mountain. The men are 25 or 42 years old, and they are climacteric year in Japan.
They build a shrine with the logs speedily.
On the day, many torches are lit, and the highlight of festival comes.
They battle between the men with torch and the men defending the shrine. After about 2 hours, at last, they set fire to the shrine, then it burns up.
All people in the village see the fire and pray their perfect health.

Suwa Onbashira FestivalSuwa Onbashira Festival (Early April and early May)

It is the main festival of Suwa Shrine with four shrines, and is held every 6 years. (The last festival was in 2004.)
Sixteen big fir trees are logged from a mountain, and they are set up in the precincts of the four shrines.
In April, the logs are brought a distance of about 12 km from the mountain to the town. Especially when they take a downhill slide, it is very exciting.
In May, the logs are brought a distance of a few kilometers to each shrine. And four logs are set up as the pillars in each shrine.

Local foods and products in Nagano Prefecture


It is a Japanese dumpling made from a fermented buckwheat dough wrapped around a filling of Japanese vegetables, fruit, or "an" (sweet bean jam) and then roasted on an iron pan. It is made across Nagano Prefecture.
Because Nagano Prefecture is very mountainous and have a cold climate, it has been a small crop of rice.
So Oyaki has been eaten as a substitute food.


It is a skewered rice cake, and had been made in the south part of Nagano Prefecture since the 18th century.
Boiled rice is stuck on a stick. And it is coated with the soy sauce with sugar, cracked walnut and sesami, and is grilled.
Generally the shape of the cake is flat oval, and we can sometimes find Gohei-mochi with a few rice balls.

Pickled NozawanaPickled Nozawana

Nozawana is a Japanese leaf vegitable. It is a cruciferous plant and its leaves are about 60-90 centimeters.
It is mainly cultivated around Nozawa-Onsen village.
Commonly its stems and leaves are pickled with salt. Because it is created in a cold environment, it is fermented only a little. So the taste is plain and the flavor is mild.
In Nozawa hot spring resort, most of hotels, ryokans, restaurants and pubs serve the pickled Nozawana.

Shinshu sobaShinshu soba

Nagano Prefecture is a cool land, so buckwheat has been cultivated from old times.
The method that we eat buckwheat in the form of noodle originated from Nagano Prefecture. Shinshu is the old name of Nagano Prefecture. We can eat the tasty soba noodle across Nagano Prefecture.
"Shinshu soba" is a famous brand, so we can find its soba restaurants in Tokyo and the other cities in Japan.

InsectInsect eating

Nagano Prefecture has been known for insect eating.
Since old times, insects as the food have been a precious source of protein for the people.
Locusts from rice field can be a "tsukudani" which is made by boiling them with soy sauce and sugar. And larvae or pupae of vespine wasps are fried or seasoned with soy sauce. They are often cooked with rice.
When we eat them, we can't avoid seeing the original shape of the insects.

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