Former Winter Olympic host city and ski resort capital of Japan, Nagano is a wonderful destination to explore, anytime of year and no matter what the season. The capital city of Nagano Prefecture is home to 400,000 people but welcomes well over twice that many tourists on average, every year. The most important attraction in the city is without a doubt, the 6th century Zenkō-ji Buddhist masterpiece. The temple compound has many noteworthy monuments and landmarks, from the Niōmon and Sanmon gates to the Kyōzō, where pilgrims come to seek enlightenment.
Other major points of interest in and around Nagano include Kawanakajima park. On the site of a 16th century feudal military battlefield, highly momentous in the history of Japan, the park and museum are worth a visit. So too is Jigokudani Monkey Park, where playful macaques, or snow monkeys, delight and thrill visitors of all ages. Of course, when in Nagano in winter, ski and snowboard enthusiasts head to Shiga Kōgen for world class slopes.
- Sanada Treasure Museum - The Sanada ancestral home. Exhibits include armour and the house itself.
- Matsushiro Literary and Military School - Learn about rebellious samurai.
- Hachimanbara Historic Site - A preserved battlefield where you can learn more about the history of war in Nagano.
- Matsushiro - The historic village that served as the base for the Sanada family.
- Togakushi Folk & Ninja Museum - How the Togakushi people lived, and displays of Ninja weapons.
Nagano Art & Culture
- Shinano Art Museum - This features a permanent exhibit of paintings of Kyoto.
- Kitano Museum of Art - Established in 1968 and includes over 600 works by Japanese and European artists.
- Kaizujo Castle - Some of the castle is in ruins, while other parts are restored.
- Matsumoto City Museum of Art - Highlights Japanese artists both traditional and modern.
- Japan Ukiyo-e Museum - Features an extensive collection of woodblock prints and books.
- Nakamachi Kura-Chic-Kan - You can find locally produced arts and crafts.
- Nakamachi - A shopping district where you'll find a variety of shops and restaurants.
- Berami - This art shop features beautifully decorated balls and dolls of both the paper and regular variety.
- Heiando Book Shop - This is a very large bookshop which also sells English-language books.
- Sweet Apples - Sells fruits of all kinds, but especially apples. Features different types throughout the year.
Gay & Lesbian Nagano
- Arriba Ski and Snowboard Club - This is a gay and lesbian travel club.
- Gay Ski Weekend - An annual charity event in support of the gay and lesbian community.
- Allure - A gay-friendly, Western-style lodge known for attentive staff.
- Nagano Hakuba Onsen Ryokan - An onsen that is gay friendly with shared bathrooms.
- Metropolitan Nagano Hotel - This is a hotel that is close to everything, with fairly large rooms.
- Chibikko Ninja Village - Rent a costume and train to be a ninja; for children and adults.
- Tokagushi Forest Botanical Garden - Most beautiful when the flowers are in bloom.
- Okususobana Natural Garden - These are beautiful gardens to explore and see traditional Japanese horticulture.
- Snow Monkey Park - These monkeys are world famous, and you can observe them here.
- Lake Suwa - A lovely park to wander at any time of year, with marvellous fireworks in the summer.
- Skiing for everyone from the beginner to the advanced at Togakushi Ski Area.
- Skiing and snowboarding are fun at Shiga Kogen; but bring cash; it doesn't take credit.
- Proud of hosting the Olympics, the Nagano Olympic Museum houses exhibits about the Nagano Olympics.
- Skating is always fun at M-Wave, the unusually shaped building.
- The Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon goes every year and ends at the Nagano Olympic Stadium.
- Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters
- Jigokudani Monkey Park
- Jōshin'etsu Kōgen National Park
- Hokusai Museum
- Shiga Kōgen Ski Resort
- Sanada Festival
- Nagano Binzuru
- Winter Sports
- Iizuna Fire Festival
- Cho Bali Bali
- Junk Box
Nagano's four season climate features cold, snowy winters and hot summers.
- Winter (December to March) -5-8°C
- Spring (April to May) 4-22°C
- Summer (June to September) 15-30°C
- Fall (October to November) 8-24°C