Besides apples, there are plenty other things that Nagano has to offer, many of them mountain-related.
Kamikochi is a national park area in the southern part of the Japanese Alps.
You can take a car up to the area around it, but you may not drive through it. There is parking (500 yen) with a shuttle bus that goes to the park. The shuttle bus is 1,200 yen one way, and 2,000 yen for the round trip. This acts as the entrance fee for the park. Kamikochi is a good place to take a nice, leisurely nature walk because it has a very walkable path, that weaves through many scenic areas.
For people with a sense of adventure, there are several hiking trails going up into the nearby mountains. If you want to know more, I’d suggest going to their website: http://www.kamikochi.or.jp/english/
Staying in a hotel in Kamikochi is possible, but it can be a bit expensive and you should definitely book far in advance.
Just for your reference, a list of hotels in Kamikochi can be HERE.
The Kamikochi Imperial Hotel is the most prestigious place to stay in this area.
If you have a car, it probably makes sense to stay somewhere else and then swing by Kamikochi. There are a lot of guesthouses that are about 4,000-8,000 yen a night (usually including a meal)
For people that want to experience even more of the mountains, there is a camping ground and multiple hiking trails going up to the mountains.
I went to Kamikochi this last fall and took a bunch of pictures of the autumn leaves….ENJOY
MONKEY HOT SPRINGS aka JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK
One of the most iconic images of Japan are the monkeys bathing in the hot springs. These monkeys are Japanese macaques, and are the residents of Jigokudani (lit. “Hell’s Valley”).
Natural hot springs are not uncommon in Japan, but seeing monkeys bathe in them is something that cannot be seen anywhere else.
If you want to get up-close and personal and bathe with the monkeys, it might be possible if you stay at Korakukan Jigokudani. The monkeys sometimes enter the bath there.
Sorry about the lack of monkey pictures…I haven’t made my way up to Jigokudani yet. However, it is on my Japan bucket-list, so I will be updating with pictures as soon as I get them.