Thanks to the rapid and seemingly unstoppable growth in popularity of areas such as Hakuba and Shiga Kogen, Nagano is quickly becoming Japan’s snow sport capital. Those who set out to visit Nagano during the winter will find that not only is Nagano home to quality snow and exciting ski resorts, but that it is also a place where you can deeply immerse yourself in history and culture.

Nagano is a must visit destination for any Japan fan, and so we invite the G’Day Japan! readers to enter this giveaway, to be in the running to win return flights to Japan for a trip to Nagano City for two!

It’s easy to enter! Just answer the survey questions below and click enter. Be sure to share with friends to increase your chance. Entries close at noon on the 20th of January, 2020.


Nagano City receives many visitors from all around the world throughout the year. Its main drawcard is the snow, and most that have visited Nagano will have come during the winter for it. Nagano is a heavy snowfall area, home to hot spots such as Hakuba; the quality of powder is exquisite and there’s plenty of variety in terrains across the area, making Nagano a favourite destination for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.
But the snow is not all that Nagano has to offer. Throughout the whole year, there are tons of outdoor activities to be enjoyed such as hiking and camping. Plenty of traditional, authentic Japanese cultural experiences can be found in Nagano too. From visiting 1,400 year old temple, Zenko-ji to eating authentic local cuisines at Nagano’s many traditional Japanese eateries, as well as exploring and indulging in the many natural hot springs found in areas like Nozawa Onsen.
Once you arrive in Nagano, you will find that there’s so much more to Nagano than whatever initially drew you in.

Nagano Convention and Visitors Bureau

Must-See’s in Nagano City

Zenko-ji Temple

The Zenko-ji Temple is a historically significant temple in Nagano, in fact Nagano originally was built around this temple many centuries ago. This temple stores the first Buddha statue that was brought into Japan, though the original has been hidden away for safe keeping. Every February the surrounding area hosts the Toumyo Festival of beautifully lit lanterns, art, food and sake where you can celebrate the local history and culture. In 2018, Nagano has been selected as one of the host cities of Japan Design Week. The Zenko-ji Temple and its grounds will be lit up with illumination from late November until December. *The festival will not be held in 2019.


You will find a great mix of activities in the Togakushi area. Try snow shoeing or cross-country skiing on the frozen Kagami-ike pond (Mirror pond) in winter or see the surrounding scenery reflected onto the surface of the pond during the warmer seasons. You can also fill your belly with the Togakushi soba buckwheat noodles or get a fill of local culture at Togakushi Shrine. This shrine is a three part shrine within the mountains northwest of Nagano city and is associated with the Sun Goddess of Japanese mythology. We also can’t go without mentioning the Togakushi ninja school, where visitors can learn the ways of the ninja. The Togakushi Ski area accommodates skiers of all abilities, and with 20 course there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy!

Matsuhiro Area

The area of Matsuhiro will certainly satisfy your thirst for some local history and culture. This area is just half an hour from the busy Nagano Station, yet here you’ll find heritage buildings and gardens that was once occupied by samurais. Explore the Matsuhiro Castle on foot to gain understanding of the local history or try out swordplay or archery at the Bunbu Literary and Military School to immerse yourself in feudal Japan.

Eating & Drinking in Nagano

Gourmet in Nagano City certainly doesn’t disappoint. There’s of course the delicious locally made soba noodles in Togakushi but there’s plenty beyond that too. Food vendors line the streets leading up to Zenko-ji; be sure to check out Nakamise Shopping Street where you can try out the local sweet and savoury snack, Oyaki. Out in the snow there are plenty of traditional Japanese eateries and in the city area of Nagano is bustling day and night with small and large restaurants and bars with plenty of variety in cuisine and atmosphere to choose from.

Local Highlights around Nagano City


Powder paradise with 11 resorts of the Hakuba Valley 70 mins away, plus, Nozawa Onsen – the deep powder resort and charming hot spring village – is 75 mins away from Nagano Station by bus.


The antics of the resident Japanese macaques playing in the hot spring baths here are irresistible.

One-day Snow Monkey Tour from Nagano City is available! Book now >>


A monument to Azuchi-Momoyama period(1574-1600) castle design, and National Treasure of Japan.


Home to the traditional onsen town of Togura Kamiyamada, Chikuma was a major stop along the ancient Zenko-ji pilgrimage and retains ease of access from Nagano, owing to its close proximity and great public transport.


A city with a rich history along the Chikuma River, Ueda has been integral to the Shinshu region’s culture since ancient times, with Ueda Castle among the many draw cards of the city.


This beautiful summer resort town offers grand mountain views and serene nature surrounding cafes, fashionable shops, art galleries, museums, golf courses and hot springs.

Shinano Railway Banzai 2-day Pass

Between Karuizawa  –  Myoko-Kogen stations

The Shinano Railway Banzai 2-day Pass is basically an invitation for foreign visitors to explore the surrounding areas of all thirty stops on the line. For two whole days, pass holders get unlimited access on the Shinano Railway line PLUS have access to discounts at selected locations.
You’ll want to make sure you have window seats on your journey out into these areas on the Shinano Railway. The train runs along the Chikuma River, the longest and largest river in Japan, and as you come into Karuizawa, you get to enjoy the view of Mount Asama which is simply picturesque.

For more details about Shinano Railway Banzai 2-day Pass


Soba Making

Soba is the Japanese buckwheat noodle that is becoming more and more popular in Australia as a health food. You can’t get better soba than soba that’s been made freshly so why not try it out yourself by taking a class on soba making? Under the guidance of Togakushi’s soba masters, learn how to make soba from scratch. The fresh soba that you’ve made for yourself is guaranteed to taste better than any other soba you’ve had before.

Togakushi Shrine Okusha

The Togakushi Shrine Okusha is the main shrine of the famous Togakushi Shrine. It is said to be a spiritually powerful, mystical spot. The shrine is located at the foot of Mt. Togakushi which add to the majesticity of the whole experience. To get to the shrine, you must walk up the 2 kilometre approach that cuts through a 400 year old cedar tree forest. It is said that the deities worshipped here will grant you good luck, wishes coming true and abundance.


Togakushi Ski Field is known for its dynamic surroundings and powder snow. Other than your regular snow activities like skiing and snowboarding, you can also participate in snowshoeing here. This is a more relaxed way of enjoying the snow. Wearing the special snowshoe for walking over the powdery snow, you’ll get to explore the area freely without sinking into the snow.

Zazen Meditation

Practiced by Zen Buddhists, Zazen is a meditative discipline that is said to provide insight into yourself and in life itself. Zazen is practiced by having the practitioner to sit in a specific cross-legged position which allows you to have straight posture comfortably. The hands are in a comfortable mudra position right in front of the stomach, while the eyelids are softly closed. For those interested in mindfulness, trying out a Zazen meditation in Japan could make for an enriching experience and something that can be brought home too.

Buddhist ‘Shakyo’ Transcription

The practice of transcribing Buddhist scripture is known as ‘Shakyo’ in Japan. It is enjoyed by the Japanese people for both spiritual reasons and as a mindfulness practice. The act of transcribing the scripture by hand is a meditative one, where you can quietly sit and focus on the task at hand. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never written in Japanese before, much like the rest of Japanese Buddhist practices, the point of Shakyo is in the discipline of the practice rather than how it looks. This experience is truly unlike any other and you’ll get to take home a unique souvenir of the transcribed scripture.

Goma Prayer Ritual

The Goma prayer is a Buddhist fire ritual for spiritual and psychological cleansing. The ritual is performed at a temple like Zenko-ji and it is lead by the resident monk. The monk will lead the participants by burning the wooden prayer sticks in the consecrated flame. The flame is said to clear any concerns or negative energy within the participant almost immediately. The ritual is held five times a day. This is another one of the unique offerings of Nagano that is sure to leave you with a fresh spirit and beautiful memories.

O-Asaji Morning Service

Every morning at the main hall of Zenko-ji, the priests and monks lead a morning service known as ‘O-Asaji’. Temple goers can receive blessings from the high priest or the priestesses before and after the service. To do so, you must line up and be on your knees and wait to receive the Buddhist rosary from the priest or priestess as they enter or leave the main hall. Both the blessing and the morning service is open to all. Be sure to check up on the starting time as it varies accordingly to the time of sunrise.

Temple Lodging at Zenko-ji

Some Buddhist temples, including Zenko-ji provide temple lodgings known as ‘Shukubo’. Pilgrims and visitors may stay in the Shukubo not just to rest their heads in the evening but to also experience the lifestyle of a Buddhist monk and even participate in meditation or morning service. There are 39 Shukubo’s that belong to Zenko-ji and each has its own resident monk. They will guide you in the customs of living as a monk during your stay.

Buddhist ‘Shojin’ Cuisine

The Buddhist monks lead a life of modesty and discipline. This encompasses all areas of their lives including what they eat. The monks eat what is called Shojin cuisine, a vegan cuisine that mainly features food made of soybeans, tofu, various sprouts, mushrooms, seaweed, grains and seasonal vegetables. The meals are simple and healthy. You can experience a Shojin meal when you stay at a Shukubo or find a temple that offers it to its visitors.

Japanese Sake Tasting

One way to make your tour of Nagano better and more delicious is by adding in Sake tastings at local breweries. There are approximately 80 breweries in Nagano, and five of those are in Nagano city. At each brewery you can sample their best local Sake and at some you can even get a tour inside the brewery and learn about the process of making Sake. A small (or large) bottle of local sake will certainly make for a fantastic souvenir to take home with you.

Nagano Toumyou Festival

This festival of light began back in 2004 to commemorate the Nagano Olympics which was held back in 1998. The concept behind this festival is to continue to carry on the Olympic spirit of advocating for world peace. The monumental Zenko-ji is light up in five colours of the five Olympic rings. Out on the streets that approach the temple is filled with light installations and other brightly lit up artwork to shine a light to Nagano and to signal for world peace.

Win & Explore Nagano’s Nature & Culture PRIZE DETAILS


The winner will receive return flights to Japan for trip to Nagano City for TWO!


ONE lucky winner will receive TWO return tickets to Tokyo from Sydney/Melbourne, valid for travel between 1 February to 30 June 2020. Winners will be notified via email in late January 2020. The flights are subject to the following terms and conditions:

Prize ticket conditions

  • All seating is subject to availability at time of booking
  • No flights are unavailable in the black out period of mid-March to mid-April 2020
  • Additional payment may be required should seating allotment by airline not be available on prize winner’s specified date
  • Amendments or cancellations are not possible once a booking has been finalised
  • Domestic transportation expenses not included
  • Please note the carrier of your flights is subject to change.
  • The prize cannot be exchanged or transferred.

Experience Japan

At Experience Japan, we are able to provide you with the firsthand knowledge of what to see and do. Let us share our passion for this great destination with you!
For more information:


Hannah won last year’s giveaway and visited Nagano City, here is what she had to say about her trip.

“I loved going to Nagano – it was such a surprising city.
I know many people go during the ski season, but going in Spring was just beautiful.

Nagano city was a great size – perfect for walking around, friendly people and delicious food.
The temple complex was larger than I expect and really beautiful, it was nowhere near as busy as temples in larger cities.
I was in awe of the giant wooden statues guarding the temple. They were incredible.

Every evening we walked along the river in Nagano, watching the water bubble away and seeing the birds nest in the cliffs.
Ending the day at the river-side Uruoikan onsen was perfect.

We did a fantastic day trip to the Togakushi Shrine and walked around the old cedar trees.
There was still snow on the ground as we walked up the mountain and across to the lake.
It was stunning country side, and the delicious soba we ate there was out of this world!
It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful as well. Getting up to the mountain was easy on the local bus service as well.

I really enjoyed our trip to Nagano – it was such a pleasant surprise as we had no expectations on what it would be like.
It was a charming, medium sized city which are the best for exploring on foot or bike. It was such a great trip – thanks G’Day Japan!.”


Check out all the fun you can have in Nagano below and select what you would like to experience in the questionnaire below. You will need to rate each experience on a scale of 1 to 5; 5 being what you want to most experience, 4 is something you’d like to experience, 3 being neutral, 2 is for something you’re not interested in and 1 being something you don’t want to experience.



G’Day Japan! – “Win your #holidaygoals: Nagano holiday giveaway!” Prize Draw Terms and Conditions

1. Entry to the “Win your #holidaygoals: Nagano holiday giveaway!” prize draw (the “Promotion”) is limited to residents of Australia aged 18 years or over, and anyone professionally connected with it is excluded from entering.

2. The Promotion is run by JAMS.TV PTY LTD, Suite 3704, Level 37, 1 Macquarie Place, Sydney NSW 2000, phone (02) 9252 6307 (the “Promoter”). All enquiries regarding the Promotion should be emailed to

3. The Promotion begins at 12:00 (AEST) on November 1, 2019, and ends at 12:00 (AEST) noon on January 20, 2020, and entrants must complete and submit the survey form available on the G’Day Japan website at by then to be eligible for the prize draw.

4. Submission of an entry constitutes an acceptance of these Terms and Conditions.

5. Only one entry per person is permitted.

6. No responsibility is accepted for late, lost, or misdirected entries. All entries become the property of the Promoter.

7. Incomplete, indecipherable or illegible entry forms will be deemed invalid.

8. The Promoter reserves the right, at any time, to verify the validity of entries and entrants and to disqualify any entrant who submits an entry that is not in accordance with these Terms and Conditions.

9. The winners will be drawn at random by the close of business on January 31, 2020 at Suite 3704, Level 37, 1 Macquarie Place, Sydney NSW 2000.

10. Total value of the prize pool is $3,000.00, which includes return airfares from Sydney or Melbourne to Tokyo for two people to be won by a total of ONE winner.

11. Winners may claim their prizes through the following methods: i) Requesting delivery by mail to a preferred postal address in Australia, or ii) Claiming in person from Suite 3704, Level 37, Gateway, 1 Macquarie Place, Sydney NSW 2000.

12. Entrants are eligible to win a maximum of one prize from the total prize pool.

13. Prize winners do not have to be present at the time or place of the prize draw.

14. The Promoter will take reasonable endeavours to announce winners by publishing their names and state on the G’Day Japan website within 3 months of them being drawn. The Promoter does not accept responsibility for the inability to make contact with a prize winner within a reasonable time after the end of the Promotion, in which case another winner will be selected and notified as set forth in these Terms and Conditions.

15. The Promoter’s decision as to the winners of the prizes will be final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into in relation to the conduct of the Promotion or otherwise.

16. The Prizes are not transferable, refundable or exchangeable and cannot be taken as cash.

17. If a prize is unavailable, the Promoter, in its absolute discretion, reserves the right to substitute the prize with a prize to the equal value and/or specification.

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NSW Permit Number LTPS/19/39349