Many visitors to Nagano City's Togakushi District come for the soba, or for a visit to its Shinto shrines. Go a little off the beaten path and you'll find the breathtakingly beautiful Kagami-ike, an artificial reservoir that offers a delightful reflection of the Togakushi Mountain Range.
Its name is perfectly fitting. Kagami means "mirror" and Ike means "pond", and that is precisely what you get here. A pond that looks like a mirror. There are basically two ways to get to this hidden spot 2.5 km from Chusha shrine. Which way you go will depend on how you want to get there. Those with a car can drive directly by heading up the Togakushi Birdline and turning left at the sign for Kagami-ike, located just before the steps leading up to Hokosha shrine. This road will wind uphill and come to an end at Kagami-ike, on the side best suited for viewing its wonderful reflection of the mountains.
The other route is the more adventurous one. Either drive or take a bus to Okusha shrine and walk through the forest from there. The trail from the Okusha entrance to Kagami-ike is well-marked and easy to follow, with a well-maintained boardwalk over the marshland areas. If you walk from Okusha, be sure to go around to the opposite side of Kagami-ike, as that is where the view of the mountains and their reflection in the water is to be enjoyed.
Here, the only public services to be found are in the adjacent restaurant Donguri House. This restaurant's specialty is gallettes, made from soba, of course. When the weather is nice, enjoy a lunch out on the restaurant's wood deck and take in the view of the pond and the mountains.
It is important to note that while anyone can visit Kagami-ike year-round, during the winter months the restaurant is closed and the road from Hokosha is unplowed, making it impassable for cars. The popular thing to do is snowshoe or cross-country ski in from Okusha. Some shelter is available on Donguri House's deck, but otherwise you are at the mercy of the winter cold. Come prepared! It is worth it, as Kagami-ike at any time of years is quite a site to see!