Nagano (city)

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From top of left, Zenkoji, Mount Togakushi, Kinasa village, Nagano Big Hat arena, Airial in Kawanakajima, Oku-Subana Valley, Marukome, which headquarter in Nagano, and famous for miso product company in Japan, Oyaki Japanese sweets, Togakushi ski place, and Matsushiro Castle
From top of left, Zenkoji, Mount Togakushi, Kinasa village, Nagano Big Hat arena, Airial in Kawanakajima, Oku-Subana Valley, Marukome, which headquarter in Nagano, and famous for miso product company in Japan, Oyaki Japanese sweets, Togakushi ski place, and Matsushiro Castle
Flag of Nagano
Official seal of Nagano
Location of Nagano in Nagano Prefecture
Location of Nagano in Nagano Prefecture
Nagano is located in Japan
Coordinates: 36°38′54.9″N 138°11′39.1″E / 36.648583°N 138.194194°E / 36.648583; 138.194194Coordinates: 36°38′54.9″N 138°11′39.1″E / 36.648583°N 138.194194°E / 36.648583; 138.194194
RegionChūbu (Kōshin'etsu)
 • MayorHisao Katō
 • Total834.81 km2 (322.32 sq mi)
(October 2016)
 • Total375,234[1]
 • Density449/km2 (1,160/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+9 (Japan Standard Time)
• TreeJapanese Lime
• FlowerApple
Phone number026-226-4911
Address1613 Midori-chō, Nagano-shi, Nagano-ken 380-8512
Nagano City Hall

Nagano (長野市, Nagano-shi, Japanese: [nagaꜜno]) is the capital and largest city of Nagano Prefecture in the Chūbu region of Japan. It is the highest prefectural capital in Japan, altitude 371.3 m. Nagano is an important industrial center, as well as travel destination and a center for accessing surrounding sightseeing spots throughout the year. Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics and the 1998 Winter Paralympics. As of October 1, 2016, the city had an estimated population of 375,234, and a population density of 449 persons per km². Its total area is 834.81 square kilometres (322.32 sq mi).

Nagano, located in former Shinano Province, developed from the Nara period as a temple town. It is home to Zenkō-ji, a 7th-century Buddhist temple which was established in its current location, approximately 2 kilometers from central Nagano Station, in 642 AD. Nagano was an important post station (shukuba) on the Hokkoku Kaidō highway connecting Edo with the Sea of Japan coast. Following the Meiji restoration, Nagano became the first established modern town in Nagano prefecture on April 1, 1897.


Nagano is located in former Shinano Province and developed from the Nara period as a temple town at the gate of the famous Zenkō-ji, a 7th-century Buddhist temple which was relocated to this location in 642 AD, and as a post station on the Hokkoku Kaidō highway connecting Edo with the Sea of Japan coast. During the Sengoku period, the area was hotly contested between the forces of the Uesugi clan based in Echigo Province and the Takeda clan based in Kai Province. The several Battles of Kawanakajima between Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen were fought near here. During the Edo period, much of the area came under the control of the Sanada clan based at Matsushiro Domain. The area suffered from flooding in 1742, and from a destructive earthquake in 1847. Following the Meiji restoration and the creation of the municipalities system on April 1, 1889, the modern town of Nagano was established. Nagano was elevated to city status on April 1, 1897. It was the first city founded in Nagano Prefecture and the 43rd city in Japan.

The city borders expanded on July 1, 1923, with the annexation of the neighbouring town of Yoshida and villages of Sarita, Miwa and Komaki. During World War II, construction of the Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters as the last redoubt for the Japanese government following the projected American invasion of Japan was started in 1944, but was aborted in 1945 due to the end of war.

The city again expanded on April 1, 1954 by annexing neighbouring villages of Asahi, Furusato, Yanagihara, Wakatsuki, Asakawa, Naganuma, Amori, Odagiri, Imoi and Mamejima. In 1959, due to the flooding of Chikuma River, 71 people died or were missing and 20,000 homes were flooded.

On October 16, 1966, the city again expanded by annexing the neighbouring towns of Kawanakajima, Matsushiro and Wakaho, and villages of Shinonoi, Kohoku, Shinko, and Naniai. During the 1985 Matsushiro earthquake, 27 people died and 60 homes were destroyed or badly damaged due to landslides.

In 1998, Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics and the Paralympics. It was elevated to a core city with increased local autonomy in 1999.

Nagano continued to expand on January 1, 2005, by absorbing the municipalities of Toyono, and the village of Togakushi, and Kinasa (from Kamiminochi District), and the village of Ōoka (from Sarashina District).

Nagano hosted the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

On January 1, 2010, Nagano absorbed the town of Shinshūshinmachi and the village of Nakajō from Kamiminochi District.[2]

1998 Winter Olympics and Paralympics[edit]

Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the third Olympic Games and second winter Olympics to be held in Japan, after the Tokyo 1964 Summer Olympics and the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo (the first Winter Games ever held in Asia). As of 2018, Nagano was the southernmost host of the Winter Olympic Games. The Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon is held annually to commemorate the occasion.


Nagano is located in north-central Nagano Prefecture, surrounding by mountains, near the confluence of the Chikuma River and the Sai River. The Sai River in Nagano should not be confused with the Sai River (Gifu) even though both rivers have the same kanji and reading, 犀川 (Saigawa). Other important rivers include the Susobana River, which originates in the Togakushi highland area; and the Torii River, which also originates in the Togakushi highland area.

Surrounding mountains[edit]

Along the route on Mt. Togakushi, Nagano, to Oku Shrine
Mount Minakami
Iizuna Highlands
  • Mount Iizuna, 1,917 meters, is a popular area for skiing and is where the bobsleigh and luge track, the Spiral for the 1998 Winter Olympics is located.
  • Mount Takatsu, 2,353 m, straddles Myōkō, Niigata and Nagano City. It is the highest peak of Togakushi mountain range. It is one of the hundred famous mountains in Japans and is also known as Togakushi Fuji.
  • Mount Togakushi, 1,904 m, is located in Nagano City.
  • Mount Hijiri, 1,447 m. is located along the border between Nagano City, and Omi in Higashichikuma District, Nagano.
  • Daibou Pass, 1,055 m, is located in Nagano City, on the boarder of Togakushi and Kinasa, Nagano.
  • Iizuna Kogen, 1000 m is a highland area that extends to the south base of Mount Iizuna in Nagano City.
  • Mount Mododori, 744 m, spans northern Nagano City, and Iizuna town. It is a monogenetic volcano that was active approximately 200,000 years ago.
  • Mount Dizuki, 733 m, is located on the northwest side of Nagano City.
  • Mount Minakami, 659 m, is a lava dome in Matsushiro in Nagano City. Its relative height to the surrounding landscape is 280 m.

Surrounding municipalities[edit]

Hakuba Happo-one Winter Resort
  • Nagano Prefecture
    • Shinano, located approximately 20 kilometers north of Nagano. Lake Nojiri is found in Shinano. Lake Nojiri was home to Kokusaimura, a landownership association, made up principally of Christian missionaries who had cottages there from the early 20th Century.

When we first went to Lake Nojiri, the International Village was like an island of affluence in a sea of poverty. But, as the Japanese economy recovered from the war, the scales tipped until we became an island of poverty in a sea of affluence [3].

— Alden Matthews, My Three Worlds (2007)
    • Nakano, located in the Zennoji Plain, on the Chikuma River and surrounded by mountains, experienced significant growth after the 1998 Winter Olympics.
    • Suzaka, a former castle town (jōkamachi) during the Edo period Tokugawa shogunate on the opposite side of the Chikuma River from Nagano. The city was noted in the Meiji period for its silk industry. After World War II, an electronics industry was established. The city is also noted for apples and grapes, and the Prefectural Agricultural Research Station is located there.
    • Obuse, an important historical tourist town, approximately 30 minutes by Nagano Electric Railway train from Nagano Station. Obuse is home to a Hokusai museum, and Gansho-in, a Buddhist temple, has a ceiling painted by him. The largest hospital in the town was a former tuberculosis sanatorium first built in the 1930s by the Anglican Church of Canada [4].
    • Ueda, approximately 35 kilometers south of Nagano, was a former castle town of the Ueda Domain under the Tokugawa shogunate. The ruins of Ueda Castle are an important historical site in the city.
    • Chikuma, located approximately 20 kilometers south of Nagano, includes numerous burial tombs (tumuli) from the Kofun period. During the Nara period, several important Man'yōshū poems were set here. The area around Chikuma prospered during the Edo period as several post stations along the pilgrimage route to the famed Zenkō-ji were located here. Obasute Station, a switchback station is located here.
    • Ōmachi is approximately 40 kilometers west of Nagano. The Hida Mountains, also called the Japanese Northern Alps, with 3000m peaks surround Ōmachi. The area was part of the holdings of Matsumoto Domain during the Edo period.
    • Omi is approximately 30 kilometers southwest of Nagano Station. The town is in the Hijiiri Highlands, and Hijiri-Kōgen Station is located here, as is Kitayama Dam.
    • Chikuhoku is located in the Matsumoto Basin, and the Higashijo Dam and Onikuma Dam are located here. Most of the area was under the control of Matsumoto Domain during the Edo period.
    • Ikusaka is approximately 50 kilometers southwest of Nagano, in the center of Nagano Prefecture. Two dams, Ikusaka Dam and Taira Dam are found here. The area of present-day Ikusaka was part of the holdings of Matsumoto Domain during the Edo period.
    • Ogawa is approximately 20 kilometers west of Nagano. It is listed as one of The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan. It is an important agriculture center, primarily rice cultivation.
    • Hakuba, located 45 km west of Nagano Station, is an internationally renowned ski resort town in the northern Japan Alps. The surrounding valley has an annual snow fall of over 11 meters, and the 10 ski resorts have more than 200 runs. The village was an important site for 1998 Winter Olympics (Alpine skiing , ski jumping, and cross-country). Most of Hakuba is located in Chūbu-Sangaku National Park.
    • Otari is located approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Nagano Station. It is in the mountainous far northwest of Nagano Prefecture, bordered by Niigata Prefecture to the north and west. Much of the village is within the borders of the Chūbu-Sangaku National Park or the Myōkō-Togakushi Renzan National Park.
  • Niigata Prefecture
    • Myōkō, on the border of Nagano Prefecture, lies in mountains surrounding the historical entrance to the Echigo Plains. The city is surrounded by five mountains. Madarao, Myōkō, Kurohime, Togakushi and Iizuna are collectively known as the Five Peaks of Northern Shinano (Hokushingogaku). Mount Myōkō (2,454 m) is in the city, much of which is within the borders of the Myōkō-Togakushi Renzan National Park.


Nagano has a hot-summer humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa) that borders on a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). Its location in a sheltered inland valley means it receives less precipitation than any part of Japan except Hokkaidō. The city receives heavy winter snow totaling 2.57 metres (101 in) from December to March, but it is less gloomy during these cold months than the coast from Hagi to Wakkanai.

Climate data for Nagano, Nagano (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 18.1
Average high °C (°F) 3.5
Daily mean °C (°F) −0.6
Average low °C (°F) −4.1
Record low °C (°F) −17.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 51.1
Average snowfall cm (inches) 98
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.5 mm) 13.0 11.5 12.0 9.2 10.0 11.4 13.1 9.8 11.7 9.1 8.6 10.4 129.8
Average snowy days 22.9 19.6 8.2 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.9 10.8 63
Average relative humidity (%) 78 74 68 61 64 70 74 72 74 75 76 77 72
Mean monthly sunshine hours 127.2 131.3 168.5 198.3 207.3 162.2 168.8 204.3 141.7 152.4 139.1 135.6 1,936.7
Source #1: Japan Meteorological Agency[5]
Source #2: Japan Meteorological Agency (records)[6]


Universities and colleges[edit]

Nagano is home to several private and public universities. Four of the ten universities recognized as major universities in the prefecture have campuses in the city, including the newest prefectural university, The University of Nagano.[7]


  • Shinshu University, Shindai is a Japanese national university with campuses also in Matsumoto, Ueda, and Minamiminowa, Nagano.
  • Nagano Prefectural College, is a 2-year prefectural college in the Miwa area of Nagano City. The predecessor of the school was founded in 1929. It became the 4-year university, The University of Nagano, in April 2018 [8]. Nagano Prefectural College will close when its final students graduate in March, 2020.
  • The University of Nagano, a 4-year university, replaced the 2-year Nagano Prefectural College in 2018. The university has two campuses, named for their location in Nagano, Miwa Campus and Gocho Campus. The university has an affiliated Center for Social Innovation Initiatives. The university is unique in that all second-year students take part in overseas study programs.
  • National Institute of Technology, Nagano College, is a national engineering college located in the Tokuma area of Nagano City. The national college has 5 departments: Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Electronics and Control Engineering, Electronic and Computer Science, and Civil Engineering [9].
  • Nagano Prefectural Agricultural College is a two-year practical, comprehensive agricultural college located in the Matsushiro area of Nagano.


Former schools[edit]

Primary and secondary education[edit]

Nagano has 55 public elementary schools and 24 public middle schools operated by the city government, along with one public middle school operated by the national government and four private middle schools. The city has 12 public high schools operated by the Nagano Prefectural Board of Education, of which three are vocational, one public high school operated by the city government, and five private high schools. In addition, the city has four special education schools.

Prefectural high schools[edit]

  • Nagano Prefectural Nagano Senior High School
  • Nagano Prefectural Nagano Yoshida High School
    • Nagano Prefectural Yoshida Senior High School Fixed Part-time School
  • Nagano Prefectural Nagano West Senior High School
    • Nagano Senior Nagano West Senior High School Chujo School
  • Nagano Prefectural Nagano East Senior High School
  • Nagano Prefectural Nagano High School of Technology
  • Nagano Prefectural Nagano Commercial Senior High School
  • Nagano Prefectural Nagano South Senior High School
  • Nagano Prefectural Sarashina Agriculture High School
  • Nagano Prefectural Shinonoi High School
    • Nagano Prefectural Shinonoi High School Saikyou Branch
  • Nagano Prefectural Matsushiro High School

Municipal high schools[edit]

  • Nagano City Nagano Junior and Senior High School

Private high schools[edit]

  • Nagano Seisen Jogakuin Junior and Senior High School
  • Nagano Women's High School
  • Nagano Shunei Senior High School
  • Nagano Nihon University Junior and Senior High School
  • Bunka Gakuen Nagano Junior and Senior High School
  • Tsukuba Kaisei High School, Nagano Learning Center



Nagano Station Zenkō-ji exit at night.

The city's main railway hub is Nagano Station. The coming of the 1998 Winter Olympics saw important changes to the transportation systems. Nagano Station and the smaller Shinonoi Station were expanded, and with the construction of the Athletes village for the Games in the Kawanakajima area, Imai Station was opened. Finally, the Hokuriku Shinkansen, initially named the Nagano Shinkansen, connecting Nagano to Takasaki, Gunma, opened in 1997 to accommodate the expected increase in travelers to Nagano.

As the main railway hub of the region, Nagano Station connects JR East, Shinano Railway, and Nagano Electric Railway in the city center.


Buses for Kawanaka-jima Bus and the Nagano Dentetsu Bus Co. service the city, departing both Nagano Station and the Nagano Bus Terminal just west of the station. Local bus provider, Alpico Kōtsū, departs from a dedicated office across the street from the Zenkō-ji Exit of Nagano Station. Long-distance highway bus services depart from the East Exit of Nagano Station. There is also a daily bus to Narita Airport.


The nearest airport is Matsumoto Airport, connected via a 70-minute express bus from Nagano City.


International relations[edit]

Local attractions[edit]

Nagano is surrounded by mountains which boast excellent hiking, camping, and cycling.

Temples and Shrines[edit]

  • Zenkō-ji Buddhist temple and pilgrimage destination, that was established in its current location in the middle of the 7th century.
  • Togakushi Shrine, a complex of five Shinto shrines, in the mountains above Nagano, whose uppermost shrine is approached via a path of more than 300 Cryptomeria trees.
  • Saikou-ji, a Jōdo-shū (Jōdo Buddhism temple, approximately 1 kilometer west of Zenkō-ji.
  • Miwa Shrine, likely stabbed in the 9th century, is located near Hongō Station.

Historical Sites[edit]

Other sites[edit]


Notable people from Nagano[edit]



  1. ^ 市政情報 > 市の沿革・概要 > 人口・面積・自然 (in Japanese).
  2. ^ 長野市・信州新町・中条村合併後調査報告について. Nagano official website (in Japanese). Nagano City. Retrieved 18 September 2011.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "International Village, Nojiri-ko (Lake Nojiri), Nagano Prefecture". Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  4. ^ "Obuse Area Guide, Southern Area". Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  5. ^ 平年値(年・月ごとの値). Japan Meteorological Agency. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
  6. ^ 観測史上1~10位の値(年間を通じての値). Japan Meteorological Agency. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
  7. ^ Government, Nagano Prefectural. "Introduction to Nagano Prefecture / Nagano Prefectural Government". Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  8. ^ "長野県内で企業の入社式や辞令交付式". 日本経済新聞 電子版 (in Japanese). Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  9. ^ "NIT Departments" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  10. ^ Snow Monkeys. "Shiga Kogen | Snow Monkeys". Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  11. ^ Snow Monkeys (2012-09-27). "Snow Monkey park | Snow Monkeys". Retrieved 2013-10-04.

External links[edit]