Nature: the Soul of Japan

Miyagi’s Annual Snowball Tournament

A Calm Day on Lake Shirakaba

A Tomb with a View

The Mori Shogunzuka Kofun. Detail of Mori Shogunzuka Kofun. View west toward the Japan Alps. Part of the shinkansen line can be seen between the trees. The Mori Shogunzuka Kofun. Those interested in Japanese culture and history may be familiar with kofun, the ancient burial mounds found all over the country. These final resting places of […]

Agematsu Forest Adventures

Akasawa Forest Railway Misomahajime, the felling of a tree for the Ise Grand Shrine Okihiki, transporting a tree for the Ise Grand Shrine A festival at Omiya Shrine The granite boulders of Nezame no Toko in summer Nezame no Toko with autumn colors The little town of Agematsu rests in the Japanese Alps alongside a […]

Among the Mountains of Kamikōchi

The Hokata Mountain Range on a clear day. Absolutely spectacular view Visitor's centre at the Kamikochi Bus Terminal A map showing the heights of the various mountains in the Hokata mountain range A visitor sketching the beauty of the Hokata mountain range at the Kappabashi bridge Man-made tracks along the nature trail leading to various sightseeing […]

Apple Picking in Matsumoto

The host family Apple picking with a kid Room of their Japanese-style house Autumn is the season of beautiful, colored foliage, mushrooms in Nagano's forests, and, of course, the harvesting of fresh fruits – one of Nagano’s specialty! This year, a young farming couple, who moved from Tokyo to Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture, started an […]

Autumn in Ikeda Town

Autumn in Ikeda Town Vineyards in Ikeda Autumn in Ikeda Town Autumn in Ikeda Town Autumn in Ikeda Town Autumn in Ikeda Town When it comes to viewing koyo (the turning of the leaves in autumn), the first destination that comes to mind may be Kyoto, Nikko, or Fuji Five Lakes. Even Tokyo offers wonderful […]

Bathing Apes in Rural Nagano

Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano Prefecture, where the monkeys bathe in a natural hot spring To get to the park requires a reasonably taxing climb up the mountain for about 30-40 minutes, and with snow and ice on the ground it can be a bit treacherous and might not be the best day out for […]

Blue Skies at Hakuba Happo-One

View from the Alpen Quad Lift. Happiness is: a snowboard and a view like this. Remnants of the 1998 Olympic Games remain. Panoramic view from the mountain-top patio bar. Happo-One has some of the steepest and best terrain in Japan. The start of the Olympic alpine skiing downhill course. Looking over the Hakuba Valley. Hakuba […]

Central Alps Hike Day 2

Waking up just in time to catch sunrise Looking back at Hinokio-dake campground and mountain hut from where I began my ascent up to Usugi-dake The early morning sun illuminated the deep valleys and endless ridge line Reaching the summit of Kumasawa-dake A helping hand Continuing on to Kisondo-sanso A view from the top of […]

Climbing Mount Karamatsu

Clouds, mountains and green grass in Nagano Prefecture Japan, between Mt Shirouma and Mt Karamatsu. On top of the world in the Japanese Alps. Clouds, mountains and green grass in Nagano Prefecture Japan, between Mt Shirouma and Mt Karamatsu. Unkai or above the clouds Ascending with chains in the Japanese Alps in Nagano Prefecture Amazing mountain […]

Climbing Mount Ontake – 1

Buddhist like monument with view of 'Kiso-goma-Dake' Mountain in background Snow covered 'torii' on ascent to 'Hachi-go-me' One of many small shrines along the way Snow covered statues near 'Otaki' peak In a race to catch sunrise Climbing 'over-the-ridge' to reach the peak It was around October last year on a clear and crisp autumn […]

Climbing Mount Ontake – 2

Two snow covered 'Toris' leading up to the peak of 'Ken-ga-mine' Some religious statues and a Shrine at the peak of 'Ken-ga-mine' A view of the Northern Alps on our descent One of numerous monuments near 'Hachi-go-me' area A mountain hut beyond 'Kyu-go-me' area An 'Ontake-Kyo' monument, part of Mount Ontake's own special religion Two […]

Conservation of Asian Black Bears

Breaking free! Checking if the bear is asleep before taking it out from the trap The bear captured that night is a young male weighing about 20 kg Taking measurements and putting a label on the bear's ear so that it can be identified later Putting the radio collar around the bear's neck Last checks […]

Cosmos Season at the Kurohime Plateau

Aug 1st Oct 3rd The naturally beautiful Kurohime Plateau (Photo: Hiroaki Kaneko/CC By SA 3.0) Venue: Kurohime Plateau, Nagano When: Aug 1st – Oct 3rd 2021 There are plenty of places to enjoy cosmos flowers during the fall months in Japan, but if you're after a spot that has been named on of the country's […]

Creating Soba in Iiyama

Yellow oilseed rape blossoms in Iiyama The ryokan where I spent part of my time Mixing up the soba well in the bowls Roll it out flat and get ready for cutting Partially cut soba I wasn't the best at cutting, but the taste was still amazing Ever wonder how the Japanese make soba? I recently […]

Free Ride World Tour 2019: Hakuba

Hakuba Happo One Alpine Face Backcountry Powder in Hakuba When: Jan 19th – Jan 26th 2019, 10:00am – 5:00pm The snow season is upon us! Japan's most popular resort, Niseko, has already received 75cm of snow and another 20 is expected before December. It has begun snowing across most of the resorts in Honshu and […]

Fujimidai Highlands

Looking down from Fujimidai to the Iida Valley as clouds roll in Looking down on Nakatsugawa from the road The hiking path begins at the lodge Breaking through the tree line Yes that is a concrete path. Doesn’t last for long Just in case you have to go…there are facilities Looking down from Fujimidai to […]

Garyu Park Sakura Festival

Venue: Garyu Park, Nagano When: Mid – Late Apr 2022 If you're after an ultra-picturesque cherry blossom spot, look no further than Nagano's Garyu Park. It was selected as one of Japan's Top 100 best cherry blossom viewing spots, and the combination of the pretty pink blooms, stunning water reflections, and the surrounding mountains are […]

Getting to Know Karuizawa

Adorable vintage bus. The New Karuizawa Art Gallery Sakuranoki Gallery St Paul’s Catholic Church Yummy treats Plenty of seasonal produce. When staying at the Hoshino Resorts, you should block out a sunny Saturday morning to head down to Karuizawa for a stroll down the main street north of the station and into the old town. […]

Gods & Goddess live in Kamikochi

Frog statue in Matsumoto Matsumoto Castle, also called Black Castle… Yobashira Shrine in Matsumoto Switzerland style pension (B & B) in Kamikochi…Cute, small & reasonable View from public hot spring at Shirahone village Rough stream view from cable-suspension bridge at Shirahone Village Hodaka Mountains Very friendly duck at Taisho Pond Myoujin Bridge There are two […]

Gorgeous Views: Utsukushi-ga-hara

Cairns make for a beautiful setting Cows freely roam the area Cows are a common sight at Utsukushi-ga-hara Hiking maps make navigation easy The pastoral view is stunning! Cowberry soft icecream is a must! The Utsukushi-ga-hara Highlands of Nagano offer spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The name “Usukushi-ga-hara” literally means beautiful plateau. Although there […]

Goryu 47 Ski Area

Looking down on the Goryu Iimori Area from Alps Dynamic Course Top of Goryu in May Goryu 47 Ski Area Goryu from Escal Plaza The gondola at 47 Near the top of Goryu Looking down on the Goryu Iimori Area from Alps Dynamic Course Snow dumped down from the heavens feathering the trees in a […]

Guided Tour in the Wild Bird Forest

As it was posing for a photo, this frog suddenly had a leakage problem All guided tours start in front of the visitor center Map at the entrance of the Wild Bird Forest A real stuffed bear paw brought by the guide Watch your step not to walk on this oak sprout! A moth cocoon […]

Hakuba Goryu

The spectacular view from the top of one of many ski lifts.  Having fun on the slopes. The resort caters for all types of skiers: from beginners to advanced.  A white Christmas!  Both skiing…  … and snowboarding are available! While I think that anyone could happily spend their entire vacation relaxing and enjoying all that […]

Hakuba Ski Village in Nagano

The view from outside Esclar Plaza in Hakuba. A view of the Japanese Alps. View from the mountain top. A view from the ski lift. Take a break at the mountain top and have some curry and rice. Hit the slopes! “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” Famous words that weren't meant to be about […]

Happo-one Winter Resort

Hakuba Goryu as viewed from the Happo summit offers a gold medal view for skiers and snowboarders. Outside the Alpine lift is the start of the former Olympic slalom (downhill flag course). Panorama at the summit. Happo-one (pronounced “happo-oh-neh”) is considered to be one of top 5 ski and snowboard resorts in all of Japan. Standing […]

Hiking in Asama

Beautiful scenery is found in the Asama woods Cycling is a great way to reach Asama Guide boards are available in Asama to help you the hiking trails Shrines are dotted about the woods The steep ascent has a rewarding view at the end! The breathtaking vista of Matsumoto City and the Japanese Alps beyond […]

Hiking Mt Kiso-Koma to Usugi-dake

When looking down at the Central Alps from above you can see how they stretch for miles into the distance The Kiso-koma ropeway takes out the most strenuous part of this hike, whisking you to top of the Senjoki Cable Car Station Reaching the summit of Mount Kiso-koma, (Kiso-koma-ga-take) Close to this summit you will […]

Hiking the Central Alps: Day 1

One of several picturesque mountain huts which you will encounter On the approach to Mount Kisa-Koma, (Kisa-koma-ga-take) you will encounter a barren and rocky terrain Towards the summit of this peak, I passed this small wooden prayer box When walking along this route it become easy to understand why the Central Alps are so famous […]

Honzawa Onsen

The reward (Photo: Matthew Shewchuk) Guiding the way (Photo: Matthew Shewchuk) Looking down the valley (Photo: Matthew Shewchuk) Following the footprints in the snow (Photo: Matthew Shewchuk) Snow covered valley (Photo: Matthew Shewchuk) Spring (Photo: Matthew Shewchuk) Fall colors (Photo: Matthew Shewchuk) From the top (Photo: Matthew Shewchuk) Located in the South Yatsugatake Mountain Range […]

Jigokudani Yaen Koen in Nagano

Wise and quiet… Monkey in onsen I don’t care, man… Relaxing A family Edi or not? I always travel alone as I can take my time and I’m independent of anything or anybody else. Japan is the safest place for that and it has very convenient transportation and lodging. My idea of a good vacation […]

Jigokudani Yaen Koen (Monkey Park)

Looking pensively into the distance Please be considerate of others if you decide to bring your Ipad as your photo device of choice. The monkeys roam freely in the park, as it is their park. Always remember that and look around so that you don’t step on one by mistake. The monkeys eat some type […]

Jigokudani Yaen-Koen’s Snow Monkeys

The monkeys are known for bathing in a natural onsen The snow monkeys show a variety of facial expressions The monkeys live in the wild A young macaque A young macaque A mother nurses her son A macaque bathing A macaque bathing Japanese macaques are highly social animals The monkeys enjoy bathing in a natural […]

Journey of 1,000 Steps….

Asuza-gawa flowing from Hida Mountains British missionary plaque on Asuza-gawa Kappa-bashi over the Asuza River Emerald waters of the Kurobe Dam Matsumoto JR station Brown and metallic green sediments in a pond. Taisho-ike hike The extensive transportation system in Japan encourages exploration and if you enjoy hiking in the refreshing mountain air, then a visit […]

Kamikochi Alps

Kappa Bridge The Kamikochi Alps rarely see the sun in October View of one of the mountains forming the Kamikochi Alps View from the Kappa Bridge It gets pretty cold in the evening Just look at that clear stream! If you are an avid hiker or simply a lover of the outdoors, then this place […]

Kamikochi: Hiking near Takayama

Kamikochi Valley & Mountains Towering mountains along the trail One of a few suspension bridges – provide a great view of the scenery! You will meet plenty of butterflies in Kamikochi! Keep an eye out along the path for some of these red-faced Japanese monkeys The scenery changes to marshland at Kamikochi A few ducks […]

Kamikochi Japan Alps

Left shore path Azusagawa River Mt Okuhotaka-dake 3,190 m (10,466 feet) Enjoying bento near Kappa-bashi Bridge Kappa-bashi Bridge Kappa-bashi Bridge from left shore path Trush along the right shore path Clear water at Dakesawa Marsh Path along Dakeswa Marsh Pond reflection, Dakesawa Marsh Wild azelea on right shore path Walkway along stream near marsh Walkway […]

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