by Abigail Javellana
Nagano Prefecture besides having the most accessible snow resort in Japan, it is surrounded by sought after attractions like the famed 400-year old Matsumoto Castle, Zenkoji Temple, and the cute wild snow monkeys!
Fun Fact: Nagano, known as the prefecture of longevity is blessed with fresh air and clean water from the soaring 3000-meter high Japan Alps. It is believed because of this beautiful environment and fresh produce from the mountains to be related to the highest average life expectancy rate in Nagano.
Here's a sample itinerary for a day trip in Nagano...
Central Japan Blog Series
Day 5 Matsumoto City -> Nagoya
8:00 Check out after Breakfast
8:10 10:10 Tour Matsumoto Castle, Nawate Street, and Nakamachi Street
11:00 Experience Workshops for soba making (Mirahashi Farm)
12:00 Lunch at Farm Restaurant Tomato no Ki
(Ina City ->Nagoya City)
16:30 Shopping around Nagoya Station
18:00 Check in at Tokyu Rei Hotel
Day 6 (Nagoya -> Mnl)
5:50 Check out
6:05 Bus Travel to Chubu Central International Airport from Meitetsu Bus Center
7:48 Arrival at Chubu Central International Airport
Matsumoto Castle, a 400-year old structure makes it one of Japan's oldest castle. It still contains its original wooden donjons and walls that make it one of five beloved national treasures of Japan.
Nicknamed as the "crow castle for its contrasting color of black and white. It's one of my favorite castles in Japan since I find it exceedingly rare to find a Japanese castle well preserved in its original state.
It still has its original wooden frames and flooring!
There's also an indoor museum which contains historical materials and artifacts including samurai armor and collection of the muskets.
Besides the castles, tourist would love to take a photo with the staffs wearing traditional Samurai and Kimonos walking inside castle gates.
Matsumoto Castle has a fantastic backdrop of the snowy peaks of the Japan Alps, that can be enjoyed during all four seasons but the best time to visit is when the cherry blossoms bloom.
Matsumoto Castle (Nearby Attractions)
Matsumoto Castle Town
Just a walking distance away from the castle are many old buildings and row of houses which are still intact that's reminiscent of old Japan.
You'll recognize Nawate street with the row of brown houses that was once the border between the samurai and commoner residences. Today the streets will take you back to the lively Edo-period shopping streets where you can find countless food vendors and quirky souvenir shops.
While Nakamachi street is distinct for the white and black earthen-walled store houses that have been refurbished as modern cafes, izakayas (pub) and shops.
Soba Making Workshop
Nagano is synonymous for their soba noodles. The fresh air, clean water, and climate make it perfect to grow buckwheat used in making this deliciously fresh soba.
What makes Nagano's soba different? Apart from being prepared traditionally, their noodles are especially chewy, slippery, bouncy and fragrant compared to the regular soba.
My first attempt at making soba. I obviously need more practice. You can try your hands-on the art of soba noodle making and taste them in the workshop.
Soba Making at Miharashi Farm
(Available for Individual, Small Group, Big Group)
5 sets of Soba Noodles P4600 yen
We had our prepared in a simple mori style soba dish. It's chilled soba on a tray dipped in tsuyu (soy sauce, mirin, rice wine, katsuobushi, seaweed, sugar). I love simple flavors where the noodles are the highlight of the dish. (Meijin Tei/Soba Noodles 700-1200yen)
Nagano Prefecture is a fruit paradise! The big difference of temperature between night and day coupled with a lot of sunlight produces a variety of fresh fruit, including apples, grapes, strawberries and peaches available for picking and tasting at farms around the prefecture.
Their most popular fruit are the apples, that coincides with the coming of autumn.
Strawberry picking ( January to June depending on the season prices may range from 1100-1800 yen)
Panorama Ina City
Hakuhiu Hot Springs Habito Agricultural Park Mihara Farm 399-4501 Ina-shi Nagano Prefecture
Nagoya (Free Day)
Last minute shopping in Nagoya. Unlike Tokyo or Osaka, that has bigger malls and more popular for shopping. Nagoya City still has a lot to offer like your favorite brands Uniqlo, GU and Don Quijote.
The residents of Nagoya are underground people, so don't be surprised to find Sakae the biggest shopping area in Nagoya to be an underground mall.
What to Eat:
Tebasaki (Chicken Wings)
Nagoya's specialty "tebasaki" chicken wings are fried twice, so you'll get that crispy outside and juicy inside then seasoned with spices and salty-sweet sauce. The wings are best enjoyed with a beer in an izakaya restaurant.
Tip: We ate at Yama-chan a famous Tebasaki Restaurant in Nagoya. It was our last day in Japan so we decided to have the Y1200 promo of unlimited beer and alcoholic beverage. Kanpai!
Overall, I love my trip through Central Japan! Filled with castles, temples, and old towns the country isn't just blessed with historical value but it also surrounded by the beauty of nature.
From the mountains to the seas complimented by the changing seasons, whether you enjoy it in autumn, spring or winter there's always something different to look forward to whenever you're returning to Central Japan.
Central Japan Blog Series
Live an Awesome Life,
ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: Our trip was courtesy of Central Japan International Airport. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.