The mountainous prefecture of Nagano Prefecture (長野県, Nagano-ken) is the perfect summer resort to avoid the heat, with the town of Karuizawa being one of the most popular summer getaway spots in Japan.
Take advantage of the relatively cool weather to explore the famous Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan’s oldest shrines in Suwa Taisha, and Zenko-ji, a major pilgrimage site. Nagano’s many tall mountains serve as challenging but beautiful hiking trails, especially those of Kamikochi.
That being said, Nagano is also a great destination in the winter, and it was the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics. The prefecture’s mountains are some of the largest ski resorts in Japan, most notably Shika Kogen and Mount Hakuba. After being out in the cold, seek warmth in one of Nagano’s many famous hot springs.
From early November until early January, Nagano's Alps Azumino National Government Park will host their annual illumination..
The Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival, an outrageous combination of flames, kindling and tons of sake is held every year on January 15th..
The Matsumoto Castle Ice Sculpture Festival has been running for over 30 years now, with a variety of skillfully designed works..