Commonly known as the ‘Roof of Japan’, the Nagano Prefecture, is abundant with beautiful mountain scenery, rich cultural history and internationally-renowned cuisine. Our journey discovers the valleys of Matsumoto, Kamikochi, Obuse before ending in Yuzawa, in Niigata Prefecture.
Matsumoto is a city surrounded by snow-capped peaks of the Japan Alps and developed around the Matsumoto Castle that still stands today. It’s garden has over 300 cherry trees and is known as one of the best spots in Japan to view blossoming cherry trees. Just outside Matsumoto is the Japan Ukiyoe Museum, which houses one of the world’s biggest private art collections of over 100 000 pieces. Those who love wasabi should head to the Daio Wasabi Farm to wander the trails between fields.
From Matsumoto, we visit Kamikochi, considered one of the country’s ecological highlights, famed for pristine nature and biodiversity. Kamikochi is also the kick-off point for spectacular treks into the Japanese Alps.
We then continue though the Alps to Nagano and on to Obuse, small town in northern Nagano with a pretty town center. Hokusai, a renowned woodblock painter, who is best known for his woodblock prints, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, spent the later years of his life in Obuse.
We then conclude your journey in Osawa, Niigata at Satoyama Jujo, nestled in the forest and and where we explore the area’s hikes and local wineries.
These are a selection of lodges that we feel combine well for this journey. However we do also have a range of options to consider in each region, and can tailor them to you preference.
In the heart of Japan’s “Northern Alps”, discover the secret charms of this hotel that opened in 1931. This little jewel is tucked away in the calm and serenity of the mountains, between the snowy peaks and fine traditional hot springs, located in the national park, and renowned for their therapeutic qualities. Tobira Onsen Myojinkan offers a divinely serene atmosphere in the forest, relaxing baths in the heart of nature, aromatherapy and superb rooms and suites.
Masuichi Kyakuden was established in 2007 by the Ichimura's, the owner of Masuichi Sake Brewery. Masuichi Kyakuden embodied the family's idea of creating a "home away from home" in Obuse. Obuse is well known for Ukiyo-e artisan Hokusai and locally-grown quality chestnuts. Masuichi Kyakuden is composed of seven old buildings including earthen store houses which were once owned by local sugar merchant. Twelve appointed rooms, designed by contemporary architect John Morford, are western style with Japanese architectural elements beautifully incorporated.
Satoyama Jujo not only borrows the Japanese terms for “mountain village” and “10 stories” for its name, but the 12-room hotel also conceptually tells its own stories throughout the 150-year-old house and modern extension that it calls home. For example, the story of organic growth and harvest is told through the farm-to-table process that the hotel’s Sanaburi restaurant employs to serve up cuisine inspired by the Minami-Uonuma region, while the story of art is present in the hotel’s mountainous village-like location, believed to be perfect for unlocking one’s inner creativity.