Áhugaverðir staðir

  • Zenjoki Temple

    491 Naganomotoyoshichō, Nagano, 380-0851 .

    Nagano's Zenkoji Temple (善光寺, Zenkōji) is one of the most important and popular temples in Japan. It was founded in the 7th century and stores the first Buddhist statue ever to be brought into Japan when Buddhism was first introduced in the 6th century. Nagano grew from a temple town which developed around its temple of great importance, Zenkoji.

    The temple approach leading up to this point is lined with shops selling local specialties and souvenirs, as well as small soba restaurants and a great bakery with apple custard pastry.

    Zenkoji's main hall is nicely ornamented and contains various Buddhist statues. A fee is required to enter the hall's inner chamber, where visitors can take a closer look at the temple's main altar. In the basement of the inner chamber is an underground passage, which visitors walk through in complete darkness in search of the "key to paradise". The key is attached to a wall along the corridor and is believed to grant salvation to anybody who touches it.

    Zenjoki Temple is a great half day out and easily accessible by a Lodge tour or easy bus and walk from Nagano Train Station.

  • Togakushi Shrine and the avenue of trees

    2410 Togakushi, Nagano, 381-4101, Japan .

    Togakushi Shrine (戸隠神社, Togakushi Jinja) consists of a lower, a middle and an upper shrine in the forested mountains northwest of Nagano's city center.

    Zuishinmon Gate

    Is the entrance to the upper shrine and avenue of trees.  A two kilometers uphill walk from the parking lot and bus stop starts the walk, which is lined by over 300 tall cryptomeria trees, dated approx. 400 years of age. The approach to the shrine passes the thatched-roof Zuishinmon Gate and ends with a series of stone steps. The shrine's main hall spectacularly stands in the steep mountainside of Mount Togakushi with the mountain peaks towering above.

    The shrines are related to an important story in Japanese mythology in which the Sun Goddess hid herself in a cave in present day Takachiho on Kyushu, after her brother had misbehaved, thereby bringing darkness to the world. In order to get the sunlight back, the other deities tried to lure the Sun Goddess out of the cave by performing spectacular dance performances in front of it. As the Sun Goddess took a peek out, one of the deities grabbed the cave's stone door and threw it away to prevent her from hiding again. The stone door flew all the way to Togakushi in Nagano Prefecture, which is also how the area got its name: Togakushi literally means "hiding door".

    This is an amazing day outing and in winter a great snowshoe adventure. Lunch can be found in the beautiful shrine town featuring soba, tea ice-cream and local Sake. Venturing down the street you will discover artesian basket weavers, synonymous to the area.

  • Matsumoto

    4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0873, Japan .

    Matsumoto Castle (松本城, Matsumotojō) is one of the most complete and beautiful among Japan's original castles. It is a "hirajiro" - a castle built on plains rather than on a hill or mountain. Matsumoto Castle is unique for having both a secondary donjon and a turret adjoined to its main keep. The castle structures, in combination with their characteristic black wainscoting, give off an air of grandeur.

    The wooden interior of Matsumoto Castle provides an authentic experience unlike that felt at many other castles rebuilt of ferro-concrete. Interesting features of the castle include steep wooden stairs, openings to drop stones onto invaders, openings for archers, as well as an observation deck at the top, sixth floor of the main keep with nice views over the surrounding city.

    In spring, Matsumoto Castle is a popular cherry blossom spot. Many visit to stroll around the spacious castle grounds and park. Along the outer castle moat are hundreds of somei yoshino cherry trees that provide lovely views when they are in full bloom around mid April each year.

    Matsumoto is a great day out, incorporating the Art Gallery, featuring international artist Yayoi Kusama, shopping and lunch at the new Aeon Shopping complex.

    Alternatively venture to Daio Wasabi Farm from April to October. 

  • Daio Wasabi Farm

    3640 Hotaka, Azumino, Nagano 399-8303 .

    We've all had imported Wasabi. But you haven't had fresh Wasabi until you visit Daio Wasabi Farm in the Green Season. This peaceful Farm was established in 1915 and features growing plants along the beautiful river banks, with serene walks and instagram opportunities. Plenty of  education and enjoyment of Wasabi flavoured food - even ice cream!