Thursday, February 11, 2010


That name suddenly wakes me up this morning, early in the morning. I’m still wandering why. So I do some research in Google. Well, Nagano is place in Japan…

I came across Nagano Prefecture or the popular nickname, ‘The roof of Japan’. Nagano Prefecture is located basically in the center of Japan and is surrounded on all four sides by 3000-meter tall mountains.

In 1998, Nagano hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The world-class snow resorts of Hakuba, Shiga Kogen Heights and Nozawa Onsen continue to attract winter sports enthusiasts every year.

The prefecture spreads out to the north and south over 13,562 square kilometers, making it Japan’s fourth largest in size. Approximately 20% of the area is designated as Natural Parks.

The prefecture boasts a sunny, inland climate, with an annual average of approximately 2000 hours of sunshine, and an average temperature of a moderate 12 degrees Celsius, with relatively low humidity.

Besides being a treasure trove of nature, history and culture. Nagano is bursting with natural hot springs, making it the king of Onsens.
Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park is the only place in the world you can see wild monkeys bathing in an onsen. Seeing their human-like expression on their faces as they soak is sure to bring a smile to your face.
Karuizawa has historically been Japan’s most popular summer resort town. In addition to a multitude of golf courses and tennis courts and a well-appointed ski area, Karuizawa also features an expansive outlet shopping mallfor year-round leisure enjoyment.

Matsumoto Castle has the oldest 5-storied wooden donjon in the country and is a designated national treasure. Its black and white stucco siding provides a striking contrast with the beautiful Japan Alps in the background.

Tsumago-juku, thanks to the preservation efforts of its townspeople, looks much the way it did during the feudal Edo era. Stepping into this classic post town gives one the feeling of having slipped back in time. Many people enjoy walking the 8 kilometers to Magome along the old Kyoto-to-Edo (Tokyo) Nakasendo Road, parts of which have the original cobblestone.
In addition, thanks to the crisp, clean water and air, Nagano is famous for its delicious soba noodles, apples and sake, as well as oyaki dumplings, gohei mochi snacks, bamboo leaf-wrapped sasa-zushi. These and other traditional foods are part of Nagano’s culinary heritage and one of the prefecture’s biggest attractions.

Few places in Nagano Prefecture.

Matsumoto Castle.

Matsumoto's namesake castle is the oldest existing castle in Japan and is recognized as a National Treasure. The contrasting black and white plaster of the exterior stands out boldly against the magnificent backdrop of the Japanese Alps. Built with many unique architectural elements, Matsumoto Castle also features a moon viewing pavilion, indicative of the lifestyle of the feudal lords. The grounds of the castle come alive in color in the spring with cherry blossoms.

Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park (“Snow Monkey”)

Jigokudani, home of the world-famous "snow monkeys", is situated in the valley of the Yokoyu River, downstream from Shiga Heights and just upriver from Shibu-Yudanaka Onsens. 200 or so Japanese Macaque monkeys inhabit the area and despite the harsh conditions (snow-covered for one-third of the year) and the rough cliffs and hot springs bursting from the ground (hence the Jigokudani “Hell’s Valley” name), the area is paradise for the monkeys. The reason is that same hot spring water collects in pools that the monkeys enjoy bathing in. This provides an opportunity for us humans to watch the Macaque up close and observe their fascinating behavior (not to mention enjoy the blissful looks on their faces as they soak in their onsen). Just before the entrance to the park is the Jigokudani Steam Vent, a nationally registered natural object and an impressive example of natural onsen forces at work. Across the Yokoyu River is Korakukan Ryokan where humans also can enjoy an onsen bath.


Tsumago-juku, deep in the Kiso Mountains, is the 42nd of 69 post towns on the feudal Tokyo-to-Kyoto Nakasendo Road. After World War II, the townspeople started to restore the buildings to the way they were back in the Edo era, one of the first such projects in the country. Their efforts paid off handsomely – today, walking down the streets of Tsumago you will feel like you slipped back in time to the Edo period. Many visitors choose to add to the experience by walking the 8 kilometers from here to Magome, the next post town down the road. Many areas along the way have the original stone pavers. Here you can really get a sense of Japan’s feudal history.

Shibu Yudanaka Onsen

One of Nagano’s classic onsen resort areas set at the base of Shiga Kogen Heights. Shibu, Yudanaka, Kanbayashi and the other onsens that make up this historical district have convenient access to Nagano City via the Nagaden Railway. Onsens are an important part of the local culture with there being common onsen bathhouses open for public use where the villagers take their daily soak, and there are numerous foot baths as well. Shibu Onsen is especially distinctive with its narrow cobblestone streets that go so well with people strolling in their yukatas and wooden geta sandals. Some of the inns date back 16 generations and their wooden facades look like they came out of an anime movie. Just upriver is Jigokudani with its famous snow monkeys.

Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza

Karuizawa sports Japan’s largest shopping mall, built in 1995 on the south side of Karuizawa Station. Featuring outlet shops of overseas designer brands, the mall provides year-round shopping enjoyment. Its approximately 200 shops offer everything from famous fashions to distinctive souvenirs, all in a natural setting with impressive views of Mount Asama.

Tenryu-kyo Valley

Tenryu-kyo is a fascinatingly beautiful valley located in a national park along the Tenryu River. The river originates at Suwa Lake and flows out to the Pacific Ocean, carving this picturesque canyon along the way. Weather-eroded rock formations and dynamic cliff faces add to the valley’s attraction. One of the more popular ways to enjoy the valley is on a river rafting tour. Some tours feature a fishing demonstration with any fish caught cooked right there on the boat for the guests.

Hakuba Ski Area

Set at the base of the Northern Alps, Hakuba Village features 7 world class ski areas and is considered a winter sports mecca. Hakuba gained international recognition when it hosted several of the 1998 Winter Olympic events. There is a wide variety of terrain, to be enjoyed by everyone from beginners to experts. Hakuba also has the best developed après ski selection of restaurants and bars in the prefecture.

Ok. That's it. Still don't know why this place in my mind, haven't heard about it before, but kinda interesting. Maybe a place I wanted to go someday...

I'll do more research about this place, anyway.


...takkan berhenti menari!!!


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