Nagano, the Japanese Capital of Winter Sports
Made famous by the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, Nagano is a mecca for Buddhist pilgrims as well as for tourists looking to enjoy the lovely Japanese Alps .
Popularity of Nagano dates back to the construction of Zenkoji temple in the seventh century. National treasure, it would host the first Buddha statue brought to the archipelago by Korean missionaries during a visit in the year 552.
Some facilities built for the Olympics have been converted into a museum, such as the M-Wave, or the sports complex, now renamed the "Minami Nagano Sports Park". Active enthusiasts may also choose to leave town for a day to go exploring on foot or ski in the mountains that overlook the city.
Ski and soba noodles
Nagano is above all the Japanese capital of winter sports and mountain hiking, because it is blessed by the peaks of the Japanese Alps that surround it. A paradise for skiers and lovers of hot springs, and the perfect place to enjoy an old Japan, such as in "Little Kyoto," Takayama, or old post towns of the old road Nakasendō.
To regain strength, restaurants in Nagano and its surroundings offer the local specialty: Shinshu soba, thin buckwheat noodles dipped in a hot broth.
The monkeys of Jigokudani
Surrounding towns are easily accessible from Nagano by train or bus in an hour and a half on average, each offering their own unique attractions: the sixteenth century castle of Matsumoto, the famous macaques basking in the hot springs of Jigokudani, or the Museum Mount Togakushi ninjas.