8 Popular Things to Do in Nagano: A Guide for First Timers

Nestled in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Nagano is a breathtaking destination that caters to travellers of all ages and interests. Whether you are an adventurer seeking outdoor thrills, a couple looking for a romantic getaway, or a family wanting to experience Japanese culture, Nagano has something for everyone!

Nagano Prefecture is also a popular outdoor sports mecca, particularly for skiing and snowboarding.

Travelling from Tokyo? Find out how to get to Nagano here.

Read on to find out what are the seven popular things to do in Nagano!

8 Popular Things to Do in Nagano

1. Hit the slopes in Hakuba


Nagano is known for its incredible skiing opportunities, and Hakuba is one of its most famous ski resort towns. Boasting numerous ski resorts with stunning panoramas, Hakuba is popular among both experts and beginners alike. With rental shops aplenty and quality snow that lasts well into spring, Hakuba is an absolute must-visit for ski and snowboard enthusiasts.

2. Soak in a traditional onsen

Nothing beats soaking in a warm, soothing onsen after a day of exploring in Nagano. The region is home to numerous natural hot springs, with many featuring traditional open-air baths surrounded by nature, offering a unique and rejuvenating experience. Some popular onsen destinations in Nagano include Shibu Onsen, Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, and Nozawa Onsen.

Nozawa onsen
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3. Witness the famous snow monkeys

Visit Jigokudani Monkey Park to see the adorable Japanese macaques, famously known as snow monkeys, up close and personal. Watch these curious creatures as they lounge around in their natural habitat, taking dips in the warm hot springs to keep warm during the winter months.

4. Explore Zenko-ji Temple

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As one of the most important Buddhist temples in Japan, Zenko-ji Temple should be at the top of your Nagano bucket list. This ancient temple dates back to the 7th century and houses a revered statue of Buddha that is said to bring salvation to all who see it. Discover the temple’s rich history and stunning architecture, and be sure not to miss the pitch-black underground passage leading to the ‘key to paradise.’

5. Embark on a food tour

Indulge in Nagano’s local delicacies on a gastronomical adventure. Known for its delicious buckwheat soba noodles and mouthwatering Oyaki dumplings, Nagano’s food scene is a source of pride for locals. Wash your meal down with some crisp, locally brewed sake and don’t forget to try the region’s delectable persimmons and Shinshu apples!

6. Take a scenic walk through Togakushi Forest

Nature lovers will adore Togakushi Forest and its serene, winding trails. This lush area is home to towering, ancient cedar trees and mystical shrines, providing an enchanting backdrop for a leisurely hike or a peaceful moment of reflection. Tokugashi Forest is mesmerising throughout the seasons.


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7. Experience a traditional tea ceremony

Immerse yourself in Japanese culture by taking part in a traditional tea ceremony in Nagano. This revered cultural activity not only allows you to enjoy the artistry of tea making but also provides a glimpse into the spiritual side of Japanese life. Look for tea houses and cultural centers that host tea ceremonies for an unforgettable experience.

8. Take a tour of Matsumoto Castle 


Matsumoto Castle is one of the oldest castles in Japan, and it’s surrounded by beautiful gardens and moats. The castle has been designated as a National Treasure of Japan. Tours are available that will take you through the castle’s history and architecture.

Ready to explore Nagano?

The Japan Rail Pass is the ultimate ticket for travellers looking to unlock the wonders of this beautiful region. With Japan Rail Pass, you can get around Nagano on trains easily and affordably. Enjoy convenient connections and experience the best that Nagano has to offer without worrying about tickets.

Get your Japan Rail Pass (Nationwide Pass or Hokuriku Arch Pass) here! Start packing your bags – adventure awaits!

Get your hands on a Japan Rail Pass now for an effortless journey through beautiful Nagano!

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