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NAGANO Prefecture

Area: 13,585 km2
Population: 2,122 million
Region: Chubu
Capital: Nagano

photo by t-mizo

Nagano Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūbu region of the island of Honshu. The capital is the city of Nagano.
Nagano has impressive highland areas, including most of the Kita-Alps Northern Alps, Chu-Alps, and Southern Alps, which extend into the neighboring prefectures. In addition to its natural scenic beauty and rich history, Nagano was host to the 1998 Winter Olympics, which gained the prefecture international recognition as a world-class winter sport destination and a Shinkansen line to Tokyo.

Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. Many of the Olympic facilities remain open - like the M-Wave speed-skating arena and the Aqua-Wing arena - making Nagano a popular destination for indoor and outdoor sports enthusiasts. Important skiing competitions are still held there.
Nagano is also a key launching point for trips to onsen (hot springs) and ski resorts in the nearby mountains, which are often referred to as "the Japanese Alps".
One of the city’s main tourist attractions is Zenkō-ji, Buddhist temple built in the 7th century.
Some of the top destinations and tourist attractions include:

Hakuba, one of Japan’s top winter resorts areas, offering some of the best winter sports slopes and action in the country.
The excellent quality of snow makes hakuba a top choice for skiers and snowboarders around the world. 9 ski resorts, with over 200 different trail are spread around the region.

Karuizawa, an upmarket mountain resort with various outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, golfing in summer and skiing or any other winter sport in winter.

Azumino city. Situated among the picturesque valleys of central Honshu's famous Alps region, the city boasts a unique blend of culture, history and natural beauty.It is also famous for its incredible number of museums and galleries.
You can also enjoy hot air ballon rides from December to March.

Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park, home of the snow monkeys, is the only place in the world where you can see wild monkeys bathing in a hot spring. You will be able to get really near to them.

Suwa Taisha, is one of the oldest shrines in existence. It consists of four building complexes, the Maemiya ( old shrine), the Honmiya (main shrine), the Harumiya (spring shrine), and the Akimiya (autumn shrine).

Matsumoto Castle, located in the city of Matsumoto, it is one of Japan’s premier castles (fortresses), constructed primarily of wood and stone. The keep of the castle maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework and it is listed as a National Treasure of Japan. The castles’s narrow wooden window provide amazing views of the Japanese Alps, Matsumoto City and the koi fish and swans circling in the moat below.
By train
The Nagano Shinkansen line, a branch of the Joetsu line to Niigata, connects to Tokyo in approximately 2 hours.

By Bus
Buses from the Shinjuku long-distance bus station run about once an hour. The trip takes approximately 3.5 hour.
There is also a similar bus to Matsumoto here, going via Kofu city.
Because of the high altitude the weather is much colder here than in the rest of Japan, even during summer.
During the winter the slopes are covered in snow. There is a distinct difference in snow accumulation amounts within the prefecture. Northern Nagano has many days of snow, while the lower areas of Central and Southern Nagano have a drier atmosphere with sunnier days.
During summer, you should be fine if you wear a short-sleeved shirt, t-shirt or a dress, however a long sleeved shirt is highly recommended if you choose to go near water or to the mountains. It's advisable to wear a hat to protect from the strong sunlight.
In the winter, be sure to bring warm clothes such as winter coat or jacket, hat, scarf and gloves. Snow boots are advisable if you’re going to the mountains
For the spring and autumn a light jacket or a sweater should keep you warm.
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