5 things to do in Nagano City (that aren't winter sports)

By Liam Carrigan

Before the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano wasn’t exactly one of Japan’s tourism hotspots. This sleepy little city, the capital of the prefecture of the same name, was just another small- to medium-sized Japanese city in the middle of nowhere.

However, after hosting those games 18 years ago, Nagano has gone on to become a holiday hotspot that draws tourists to its array of fine winter sport resorts dotted across the Japanese Alps.

But there’s a whole lot more to Nagano than just skiing or snowboarding. After a wonderful weekend in and around Nagano City, it seems like as good a time as any to present my personal top five things to do there, besides winter sports.

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I wonder why the Higashiyama art gallery isn't mentioned (a few minutes' walk from Zenkoji Temple).

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One thing you gotta do ... and that is "look" for the key in the completly blackened out area located underneath Zenkoji Temple. When and if you find the key in the dark you will have good luck. And if you're tall like me, go in low as the ceiling appears to be rather low too.

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Until the then-Nagano Shinkansen opened in 1997, even relatively small numbers of Japanese visited that town for tourist reasons, mostly because it was a long train ride just to get there from Tokyo. But once the Shinkansen opened, the city became a bit of a tourist town--and now even more so with the full opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen all the way to Kanazawa.

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