By Febry Fawzi
If you need a reason to visit Nagano prefecture, you must know that in this area you will find many points of interest to visit that will leave you speechless. From Zenko-ji Temple, to Jigokudani snow monkey park and Matsumoto Castle, Nagano attracts many tourists in search of real Japanese beauty.
Whether you're a tourist, or you are on business, the Hotel Metropolitan Nagano is a great choice as your central travel base, conveniently located just steps away from JR Nagano Station. A large lobby welcomes guests with its relaxing waiting area and a cafe ready to host newly arrived guests.
The hotel provides 235 spacious, comfortable rooms, all with the latest amenities. The carpeted floors, seating area and flat-screen TV ensures guests can quickly feel at home. Rooms come in a variety of standard, twin and deluxe options – with several contemporary and luxurious variations also on offer. There is free Wi-Fi in all rooms and, indeed, throughout the hotel's facilities.
The Hotel Metropolitan Nagano offers a choice of three on-site restaurants: the Japanese Restaurant Shinano, the Chinese Fan-Fahr and the Iris cafe-restaurant.
Shinano excels in serving top of the range, seasonal Shinshu ingredients across a range of kaiseki courses. Within Shinano itself, guests can also opt to dine at the Kaidu sushi bar or the Yamasachi teppanyaki grill, where mouth-watering cuts of succulent Shinshu beef await.
Sichuan cooking takes centre stage at Fan-Fahr, while breakfast/lunch is served at the Iris cafe. For those staying up late, the Bar Apollo is located on the top floor and provides guests an intimate space to unwind with cocktails against a spectacular, panoramic night view.
The Hotel is located right next to JR Nagano Station and near the center of the city, and you can easily reach all of Nagano's recommended destinations.
Zenko-ji Temple, one of Japan's national treasures, is just a 10 minute drive from the hotel. It was founded in the 7th century and is home to the first Buddhist statue ever brought into Japan, back when Buddhism was first introduced in the 6th century.
The Shinano Art Museum and the Joyama Park are located within a 5 minute walk from the Temple.
If you have some time to spend in Nagano prefecture I personally recommend a visit to Obuse (30 mins by train from Nagano station using Nagano Dentetsu Line). Here Katsushika Hokusai, one of the most famous Japanese ukiyo-e painters of the Edo period, spent the last days of his life and you can follow his life at the Hokusaikan Museum. Traces of this Obuse period are still visible at Ganshoin Temple (2 km from Obuse station) where you can admire the beautiful ceiling painting, 'Happounirami Ōhōōzu' or 'great phoenix staring in all directions', as its gazes seems to follow you around the room.
Another popular heritage site to visit in Nagano area is Matsumoto Castle (about 1 hr from Nagano Station via JR Shinano Line) – one of Japan's most beautiful castles whose original interior and exterior has been well-preserved. Another unmissable experience is a visit to Jigokudani Monkey Park, providing the chance to see wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring (about 40 minutes by bus far from Nagano Station).
Nagano prefecture, in short, has all the ingredients for an unforgettable holiday for lovers of nature, art and mountain excursions.
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