Can’t decide on a weekend destination? How about somewhere with a great view and a rich history and not-so-far from the big city?
Nagano is the perfect weekend getaway for you! Enjoy the rich history of ancient Japan at the temples, the vitality of modern society along the streets of Obuse and of course, the scenic view at Jigokudani Monkey Park.
iris on Flickr
Built more than 600 years ago, the Jokoji Temple is one of the most important cultural properties in Japan. Be sure to try some oyaki (a traditional local vegetable-filled rice dumpling) at the foot of the shrine.
kumiko on Flickr
Write your wishes and longings about love on this heart-shaped wooden plates. These hearts symbolize the flowers of the “Hanamomo” tree at Jokoji temple. The flowers, with deep pink hue, mean “prisoner of love” and the tree is referred to as the “love tree”. Jokoji temple is a good destination for the hopeless romantics.
yoppy on Flickr
But the main highlight of the temple is the spacious slacklining grounds. Imported from Germany, Slackline is a hip sport involving tightrope walking in a flat belt which stretches and bounces like a trampoline. Slackline participants can perform various stunts and flips depending on their skills. It may seem easy but it’s actually a difficult task and can be considered a great exercise.
Eiju Hayashi, chief priest at Jokoji temple, opened a fully developed slackline area on the temple grounds in 2013. Locals eventually flocked the playground and created a popular and fun place within a provincial town.
buck82 on Flickr
Unlike other Japanese cities which, before they were the big cities they are today, evolved from castle towns (eg. Osaka and Kyoto) and harbor towns (eg. Nagasaki and Kobe), Nagano developed mainly from a temple town, with a primary focus on Zenkoji Temple which has a rich history dating from 642 AD.
The temple displays the first Buddhist statue ever to be brought in Japan which was created in India and then introduced to Japan via Paekche in the Korean Peninsula. The temple’s name is derived from the name of Yoshimitsu (善光) Honda, who enshrined the statue.
The statue is now hidden from the public and only a replica is being displayed for a few weeks every six years. Watch for it in 2021.
Although cameras are not allowed inside the main hall, taking portraits outside is highly encouraged. You wouldn’t want to miss a scenic view to bring back home. Everything is picture perfect and gives you a vibe of ancient Japan.
Mig Gilbert on Flickr
Jigokudani is a destination well-loved by both foreigners and locals. A trip to Nagano will certainly seem incomplete without it. The best part of this spot is watching the wild monkeys take a dip in the hot springs amidst the snowy mountains.
But you can also definitely enjoy the long hike and admire the picturesque view.
Kotsu Kotsu Mame To Tsuwa
dazegg on Flickr
Home entrance turned to a hipster, intimate coffee shop, Kotsu Kotsu offers the best black coffee you’ll need for the weekend. The shop also displays artworks and antiques from various local artists. Be sure to sit on the spot near the fireplace: it’s warm and cozy.
Hurry up and pack your bags for Nagano. Have a great weekend!
Jokoji Temple Access
〒381-0211 676 Karida, Obuse, Kamitakai District, Nagano Prefecture
Zenkoji Temple Access
〒380-0851 Motoyoshicho-491, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture
Jigokudani Park Access
〒381-0401 6845 Hirao Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano-ken
Kotsu Kotsu Mame no Tsuwa Access
〒381-0201 228-5 Obuse, Obuse-machi, Kamitakai-gun, Nagano-ken