Sightseeing around NAGANO & NIIGATA
Nagano and Niigata contain some of the nation's most beautiful mountain scenery and nature, enduring history and fascinating cultural heritage of both the past and present. The region, often referred to as the "Roof of Japan", is a must for sightseeing.
In Japan, there are only five castles that have been designated as National Treasures and Matsumoto Castle is among them. The five-storied donjon is one of the oldest castle structures extant in Japan. Construction of the main donjon began in 1592 when warlords around the country struggled for dominance.
Matsumoto Castle is one of the few great castles of the feudal era to survive in its original form. Matsumoto City Museum located next to the castle has various displays relating to archaeology, history and folklore of the surrounding region, including samurai armour, an ornate palanquin, farming equipment and items relating to Matsumoto's many festivals. These exhibits vividly depict the daily life and culture of the past.
2Dai-o Wasabi Farm
This is the largest wasabi farm in Japan and has been cultivating wasabi since 1915. The farm covers 15 hectares, and it took two hundred workers over 10 years to reclaim the land to cultivate wasabi.
Stroll through the perfectly manicured and landscaped fields of wasabi and treat yourself to wasabi in all manner of foods, including ice cream, beer and sausages!
Zenkoji Temple, a designated, National Treasure, has a history of over 1400 years and is a must-see while in the area. It is one of Japan’s most revered temples and houses the first image of Buddha brought to Japan in the 7th century．
The Buddha image has been kept hidden from the public since 654 and only every six years is a duplicate of the image displayed to the public. The roof of the Main Hall is the largest hinoki-thatched roof in Japan and the streets surrounding the temple are lined with lantern-lit shops and tiered roofed stalls and galleries.
Obuse is a historic town located 30 minutes outside of Nagano City, well known for its chestnuts and sake, and perhaps most importantly, home of the famous Japanese artist Hokusai and the museum dedicated to his work. Rare paintings and other works by the master of ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Hokusai Katsushika, are displayed in the museum.
The beautifully preserved 240-year-old Masuichi Sake Brewery next to the museum is also a great place to visit. Sample a glass of Sake and enjoy a traditional Japanese lunch in the brewery's superb restaurant. The village of Obuse is wonderful location to just stroll around and visit the museums, temples, traditional residences and gardens that it is famous for.
5Jigokudani Yaen-Koen (Snow Monkey Park)
Jigokudani Yaen-Koen (Snow Monkey Park) is situated near Kambayashi Onsen at the base of Shiga Kogen. This unique area is home to about 200 wild monkeys who spend their days soaking in the natural hot springs, keeping warm from the harsh winter. The park was opened in 1964 and is considered to be the only place in the world to see monkeys bathing in the wild. Commonly referred to as "Snow Monkeys," Japanese Macaques are the northernmost species of monkey in the world, live at latitudes of 41° to 31° north of the equator. With their thick fur coats, almost human-like faces, and their deep, soulful eyes, the snow monkeys have won the hearts of people worldwide.