10 Best Things to do in Nagano | Japan

10 Best Things to do in Nagano

Nagano is a city, belonging to the Nagano Prefecture. It is also a prime destination to visit Honshu during the winter. There are ski slopes in the city for those who love skiing and snowboards. The city is famous for several things so here are the 10 best things to do in Nagano.

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10 Best Things to do in Nagano | Japan

1. Exploring Nishi-no-Mon

Exploring Nishi-no-Mon | 10 Best Things to do in Nagano
Source: livingnomads.com

This is the name of a sake brewery in the city of Nagano. You can also find a gift shop, a museum, and a restaurant nearby in the brewery. The brewery and the museum houses many ancient photos, telling the stories of the brewery itself.

Visitors can check out a few of the contemporary brewing apparatus inside the brewery. When the tour is about to end, you will be allowed to taste some of the sake there. Sake is a type of rice wine, made famous by Japan and they will let you purchase some as a souvenir.

2. Bathing in the Onsens

Bathing in the Onsens | 10 Best Things to do in Nagano
Source: onsenguide.org

You can find onsens wherever you visit in Japan. But, the onsens in Nagano are said to be the most relaxing when the day ends. The Kagai onsen Ichiyoukan is a well-renowned onsen located in Nagano. There are baths full of brown water inside the onsen and are separated based on gender.

There is another notable onsen in Nagano. It is the Omuro Onsen Makibanoyu. This onsen comes with a huge outdoor bath. You can not only enjoy a warm bath but also take in the view of the Zenkouji Plain.

3. Visit Zenkoji

Visit Zenkoji | 10 Best Things to do in Nagano
Source: en.japantravel.com

The Zenkoji is an ancient temple that has been around since the 7th century. It is a very famous pilgrimage site for the followers of Buddhism in Japan.

You can spot a hibutsu in the temple. It is referred to as the hidden Buddha and is shown to the common people once every 6 years. So, the year when you can see the hibutsu again is in 2022. Then, everyone will have to wait for 6 more years to get a view.

The temple allows many shops to be set up in front of it. You can see the locals sell lucky charms and talisman.

4. Visiting the Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum

Visiting the Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum | 10 Best Things to do in Nagano
Source: livingnomads.com

There is no museum in this part of Japan that is as popular as the Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum. It attracts viewers from every corner of the country. Some of the landscape paintings in this museum compel people from all over the country to pay a visit.

The museum has a diverse range of paintings. You can find some European art alongside paintings from all over Japan. So, all of it makes for an amazing experience.

5. Tasting the Regional Delicacies

Tasting the Regional Delicacies
Source: justonecookbook.com

While food isn’t what compels people to visit Nagano, it still has many local delicacies that you cannot miss. Oyaki is a very famous dish around this region. It is a Japanese dumpling which is usually steamed.

Oyaki has two flavors: sweet and savory. There are several fillings that the cooks use including pumpkins, eggplants as well as red bean paste. They are added to the dumplings to bring out different flavors.

There are a few other delicacies left for you to try in Nagano. Oden is one such delicacy. It is a stew that includes white radish, hard-boiled egg as well as fish cakes.

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6. Experience Binzuru

Experience Binzuru
Source: snowmonkeyresorts.com

If you visit Nagano during August, you are likely to witness Binzuru. It is a prime summer event that the residents enjoy. You can witness nearly 200 musical and dancing groups attending the event. Additionally, there is a procession that takes place in honor of an Indian Buddhist Saint named Pindola Bharadvaja.

When the event draws to a close, the residents make their way to the Zenkoji temple. They enter the temple and rub Binzuru’s statue. There is a belief that rubbing Binzuru’s statue can shower people with good luck. It is sure to make your day memorable.

7. Visiting the Togakushi Shrine

Visiting the Togakushi Shrine
Source: alpico.co.jp

Nagano is full of beautiful shrines but, none are as beautiful as the Togakushi Shrine. When you make your way to the shrine, you will find a few hiking trails as well. Those trails can take visitors out to the neighboring areas.

You can visit the famous Kagami Pond near the shrine as well. The pond is famous for its calming waters. If you become hungry on the trip, you can run across the road to eat soba noodles. There are quite a few noodles shop set up in that vicinity and always attracts locals and foreigners alike.

8. Observe the snow monkeys

Observe the snow monkeys
Source: martinbaileyphotography.com

The city of Nagano is well known for the “snow monkeys”. Every year, people from around the globe visit Nagano to spot these magnificent creatures. You can see the monkeys if you visit Jigokudani, a part of the Yokoyu River. Visitors can tour the area coming from Shihga Heights.

You can find over two hundred snow monkeys in this region. These monkeys are known to stroll inside the local onsens and take a dip inside the warm waters.

9. Trying Horse Meat Sashimi

Trying Horse Meat Sashimi
Source: taiken.co

The horse meat sashimi is an unorthodox dish you can find in Nagano. There is a twist to this dish, it is referred to as basashi. It is kept raw for making a type of sashimi. However, the sashimi prepared with thinly sliced horse meat.

The horse meat sashimi can be found in any place inside the city. This dish opens visitors up to another unique experience.

10. Tour the Chibikko Ninja Village

Tour the Chibikko Ninja Village
Source: jpninfo.com

The ninja culture is a huge attraction in Nagano and other regions of Japan. Ninjas had been active in Japan during the 15th and 16th centuries. A ninja was known to work as a mercenary.

Nowadays, you can find ninjas who will show you some tricks in their own homes. There are centers where people can train to be a ninja as well. You can take a class there to learn the ways of throwing knives.


To conclude, a trip to Nagano will help you get an unforgettable experience. It is only appropriate that you visit Nagano as soon as you can.

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Taufiq is an award-winning copywriter and digital marketing consultant. He is also a passionate traveler and freelancer, teaching financial independence and professional development through working freelance projects: www.freelancerhelpbangladesh.com

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