Utsukushigahara Highlands – A Cow's Favorite Spot in Nagano
Matsumoto & Ueda Cities, Nagano Prefecture – Utsukushigahara, literally translated into ‘Beautiful Field’ is a plateau standing at approximately 2,000 meters high. With alpine flowers in bloom from July to August, autumn-colored leaves adorning the trees from September to November, and the crisp, frosty air to delight in from December to March, Utsukushigahara is a choice destination throughout the four seasons.
There are various trails leading up to the top, so whether you’re in the mood for a short refreshing stroll in the highlands or a long and adventurous hike, Utsukushigahara is a place for everyone.
Starting at the parking lot, however, one may find the outdoor statues of the Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum to be quite the pleasant view, as with your ascent, the pieces that you once found yourself staring up at will have grown smaller, and a brilliant overall view of the outdoor museum will enter your sights. Just when the structures are tiny enough to where they seem as if they could be little pieces in a doll house, however, you’ll have reached the “top”, and this is where you’ll see just what makes Utsukushigahara so special.
Famous for its 360-degree, breathtaking, panorama view of Mt. Asama to the East, the Japanese Alps to the North and West, and Mt. Fuji to the South, Utsukushigahara really lives up to its name.
The tranquility and peace that can be found upon reaching the top of Utsukushigahara is one that many hikers will know. The fresh air that enters your lungs and the panoramic mountain view surrounding you throughout the seasons is enough to take one’s breath away.
Utsukushigahara’s Main Attractions
Amongst the various mounds of stones built at the top of Utsukushigahara, lies an old metal plate, and similar to the wooden signs you’ll find throughout your journey through these highlands, this plate contains information about the area.
Unlike the wooden signs, however, this plate is not here to tell you about the various animal and plant-life that make Utsukushigahara their home, but it tells you more about the surrounding mountains. With North, South, East, and West depicted, one may even use this as an alternative compass.
Cows. Who doesn’t love them? The cows of Utsukushigahara are famous and one of the highland’s main attractions. They can be found grazing in the pastures behind sturdy wooden fences.
They are so popular that in a nearby gift shop, you can even find small little cow keychains, that portray the cows pasturing in the meadows of the highlands. And, if you’re feeling a bit parched, you could even buy milk, or order some milk-flavored ice cream.
Even more famous than adorable cows or the impressive panoramic view, however, is the bell tower. This structure happens to be the symbol of Utsukushigahara, and is said to have once been used to aid travelers lost in the fog.
Those able to make the trek up to this stone bell tower are highly recommended to do so, and most make this point in the hike their final destination before heading back down.
One thing for sure, however, is don’t forget to bring a camera. There are tons of opportunities for photo just waiting to be taken at Utsukushigahara!
There is a limited bus that takes approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes from the Matsumoto JR Station, however, as it is limited, it is recommended to go by car.
How to Get There: To get to the parking lot below the Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum, take the Azalea Line heading up into the depths of Iriyamabe, and then head up to the highlands via the Venus Line (which is closed during the winter).
General Location: 〒386-0507 長野県上田市武石上本入