Togakushi is located in the northwestern part of Nagano City and was once visited by many ascetic practitioners as a sacred site. The area is designated as Myoko-Togakushi renzan National Park, where visitors can enjoy the rich natural beauty of the four seasons. Togakushi Mountain Range, consisting of Mt. Togakushi, Mt. Kuzuryu, Mt. Takatsuma, which is one of the 100 most famous mountains in Japan, and Mt. Nishidake, attracts climbers of all levels, from beginners to experts, and offers hikes ranging in difficulty from easy to advanced.
Located 1,200 meters above sea level in the Myoko-Togakushi renzan National Park, Togakushi Campground is a vast camping site boasting magnificent mountain scenery, wild birds, and alpine flora. The campground offers a full range of facilities to suit your specific preference, including basic tent sites, sites with electric hook-up and running water, cottages for families, log cabins, and bungalows for mountain climbers. Togakushi Farm is also attached to the campground, so children can enjoy watching cows and horses graze, cuddling small animals at the petting zoo, and horseback riding.
Togakushi Shrine has a long history and is even mentioned in the ritual of the opening of the Gate of Heavenly Rock. Since then, the shrine has been visited by many ascetic practitioners as the mecca of mountain worship, and is still popular as a power spot enshrining the gods. The approach to the rear shrine, where some 300 cedar trees each over four centuries old tower above in a closely-packed line for about 500 meters, is an especially majestic sight to see. Visitors will be overwhelmed by the powerful, perfectly-straight, giant trees, and experience a mystical atmosphere while basking in negative ions.
As its name suggests, Kagami-ike Pond is a beautiful pond that reflects the Togakushi Mountain Range on its surface like a mirror ("kagami" means "mirror" in Japanese). Especially on a calm day without wind, it is an excellent spot for taking pictures, reflecting the surrounding scenery so clearly you feel as if you are looking at a photograph. The pond is surrounded by a walking trail that takes about 30 minutes to complete as an ideal way to truly savor the great outdoors. For those who want to enjoy a quieter forest-bathing experience, Kotoriga-ike Pond and Midoriga-ike Pond may be just what you're looking for. Perhaps because they are less well-known than Kagami Pond, there are fewer tourists, so you can enjoy the tranquility. Togakushi Forest Botanical Garden also offers a well-maintained walking trail that is ideal for observing plants and wild birds.
Getting there and around
From JR Nagano Station, take the bus departing from bus stop No. 1 (bound for Zenkoji) at the Zenkoji Exit bus round-about. From the bus stop at Zenkoji Daimon, it is about a 5-minute walk to the main hall of Zenkoji Temple.
Known for the quality of its snow, Togakushi Ski Resort offers a total of 19 courses with a wide variety of terrain for skiers of all levels, ranging from beginner to advanced. From the summit, which is over 1,700 meters above sea level, visitors can enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of the Togakushi Mountain Range before their very eyes, see the Northern Alps (Hida mountains) in the distance, and on a clear day, even behold Mt. Fuji in all its glory.
Yudanaka Onsen is a famous hot spring in Nagano with a history dating back over 1,000 years, and the outer hot spring tour, in which visitors stay at the hot spring resort, is very popular. One of the highlights of the Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen resorts is the Jigokudani Yaen-koen, a wild snow monkey park located 850 meters above sea level and blanketed in snow from late November to early April. Japanese macaques were the first monkeys in the world known to bathe in hot springs in order to survive in this harsh environment. Their adorable appearance attracts people from all corners of the globe.
Myoko-Togakushi renzan National Park／妙高戸隠連山国立公園
Mountaineering & Hiking
Myoko-Togaku renzan National Park is located on the border between Niigata and Nagano prefectures and is Japan's 32nd national park. The park is home to a cluster of unique mountains, which are known as "Hitomegozan" (meaning "five mountains at a glance") because one can literally see all five mountains in a single glance. The area is also home to one of Japan's heaviest snowfalls. As such, the locals have developed the wisdom of living in harmony with the beauty and harshness of nature, as well as come to worship the mountains. Surrounded by such breathtaking nature, visitors can enjoy activities all year round; such as full-blown mountain climbing, casual hiking, nature-watching, canoeing and camping in summer, and skiing in winter. Kagami-ike Pond, a popular photo spot, offers a panoramic view of the Togakushi Mountain Range, and the reflection of the mountains on the surface of its water is mesmerizing. The lingering snow of springtime and the fiery autumn leaves are also not to be missed.
Togakushi Folk Museum／戸隠民俗館
The Togakushi Folk Museum is located in a reconstructed granary where tribute rice was stored during the Edo Period. The museum houses and exhibits approximately 2,000 pieces of folk tools conveying the lifestyle of the past.
The Togakushi Ninja Museum provides explanations of the Togakushi-style ninja and exhibits about 500 ninja tools, allowing visitors to learn about the history of the Togakushi region and its ninja. In the Ninja Karakuri Yashiki, visitors proceed through a maze and stairway full of tricks to reach the inner room of the house.
Togakushi soba is said to have originated as a portable food for monks who practiced mountain worship on Togakushi Mountain, and is considered one of Japan's "three great soba" along with Wanko soba of Iwate Prefecture and Izumo soba of Shimane Prefecture. The soba is boiled, rinsed, and then served in a characteristic "bocchimori" style, in which the noodles are divided into about five batches without being drained. Each soba restaurant has its own unique traits, such as the thickness of the noodles or the taste of the dipping sauce, so be sure to compare the different soba dishes for extra fun!
Among Togakushi soba, the special "Yukigakushi soba," made from fresh soba harvested in the fall and fermented in the snow, can be enjoyed seasonally and at exclusive restaurants from around June every year.
Travel Advice and Tips
Located near Kagami-ike Pond, Kotoriga-ike Pond is a surprisingly good place to take beautiful photos. Since most tourists steer toward Kagami-ike Pond, Kotoriga-ike Pond is a peaceful respite where you can leisurely take in the amazing scenery. With fewer people around, you can truly connect with nature in this pristine spot.