Enjoy the finer things in a hot spring town on Hakuba’s doorstep
Just 40 minutes from Hakuba, Omachi is local to the ski resorts of Kashimayari Sports Village and Jiigatake. Its hot spring area of Omachi Onsenkyo is set in deep forest, and skiers and snowboarders overnight here from Hakuba to enjoy the local hospitality and cultural attractions. Shinano Omachi Gourmet Street is the place to go for great local food, including the famous ‘oyaki’ steamed vegetable dumplings, and premium sake. Lift passes for Omachi’s Kashimayari Sports Village and Jiigatake ski resort are also included in the Hakuba Valley Ticket, along with free shuttle bus access – another great reason to stop by this welcoming town in winter, cradled by the majestic 3,000-metre peaks of the Northern Japanese Alps.
Getting to Omachi
Shinano Omachi Station, Omachi’s main travel hub, is just 3 hours from Tokyo on the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo to Nagano, and an Alpico express bus from Nagano to Omachi.
Kurobe Dam & Alpine Route
The Tateyama-Kurobe alpine route is a mountain sightseeing route. Here you can enjoy sweet and colourful sceneries of autumn leaves changing colour from mid September to November. The Kurobe Dam is one of Japan’s largest dam that is 186 metres tall and 492 metres in crest length. It’s the best arch shaped dam in Japan and from its observatory, not only can you see the majestic dam but the massive panoramic view of the Tateyama mountain range as well.
The best time to see the autumn leaves near Kurobe Dam is mid October. The whole view from the dam at that time is of the mountain range looking like it’s lit up in gorgeously bright red flames.
To visit Kurobe Dam, take a 40-minute bus ride from Shinano Omachi station to Ogizawa station. From there, take an electric bus and you’ll arrive at the dam in another 16 minutes.
Nakayama Kogen is a highland area that is gorgeously decorated by nature from season to season. In spring, what the locals call the ‘phantom pond’ appears created of a pool of melted snow. With lingering snow on Jiigatake and Kashimayarigatake of the northern alps, mustard-colored flowers create a lovely spring scenery. Over late August to mid September, the highlands transform into what looks like a white carpet with the blossoming buckwheat flowers. It’s a dynamic, picturesque area where you can enjoy the highlands and the northern alps together.
To get to Nakayama Kogen is a 20-minute drive from Shinano-Omachi station.
Reishoji is the most ancient zen buddhist Sotoshu temple in Nagano. On the two-storied gate known as the Sanmon. You’ll find magnificent carvings, and these gates are protected as a prefectural treasure.
To the side of the Sanmon are the rare and grand, fossil trees known as Ohatsuki Ginko trees. The leaves of these trees bear seeds on it and are used as a talisman for fertility.
Inside its property, there are many traditional Japanese greenery including cherry blossoms, maple and azaleas. The autumn leave here over late October to mid November is a sight to see.
Reishoji is accessible by car, and it’s located just 19 minutes from Shinano Omachi station.
Omachi Dream Fireworks & Sound Festival
The Omachi Dream Fireworks & Sound festival is held every second Saturday in February at Omachi Onsenkyo. Fireworks light up the night sky in winter with an accompaniment of Japanese Taiko drums. It makes for the perfect excuse to get away to Omachi for a night or two.
Shionomichi Chojiya offers visitors a great range of traditional costumes to try on for a photo shoot, including kimono and ninja, as well as workshops on cooking traditional ‘kori-mochi’ rice cakes, Japanese calligraphy and more. It takes 7minutes walk from Shinano Omachi station.