Due to the long cross-country journey we had to make to get from Fujikawaguchiko to Shirakawa-gō, James and I decided to stop overnight in the sleepy inland city of Nagano. Nestled in the mountain ranges of the Northern Alps, Nagano has long been a place of pilgrimage. Its most famous temple, the Zenkō-ji Temple, is situated in a prominent position to the north of the city and draws more than four million visitors each year.
The interesting thing about Nagano (to me, anyway) is its hushed atmosphere, its understated peace and quiet. Littered with cobblestoned walking paths, charming little shop houses and neat flowerbed-lined streets, the city holds a starkly different vibe to other Japanese cities. While it is not quite as entrenched in cultural traditions as Kyoto, it is definitely not as fast-paced as Tokyo or Osaka.
4 Interesting Facts About Nagano
- Nagano is the gateway to the Japanese Alps region, a series of mountain ranges that bisect the main island of Honshu.
- Nagano’s main attraction is the Zenkō-ji Temple, which stores the first Buddhist statue ever to be brought into Japan.
- Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics.
- Nagano is the capital city of Nagano Prefecture, formerly known as the Shinano Province.