2. Attractions in Iiyama

Attractions in Iiyama


The trip to Iiyama to meet the people, natural scenery, and food produced by the gentle earth.

Situated in the far north of Nagano Prefecture, Iiyama city is Japan's eternal home town, where nostalgic scenery depicted in songs like Furusato and Oborozukiyo can still be found. Amidst the region's rich natural landscape, a unique history and culture, sense of tradition, and kindness has flourished. With elegant streets lined with temples, deep forests and highlands, and specialty produce each season, the area is full of charming attractions.
The new Iiyama Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Bullet Train) line connecting Nagano City and Kanazawa City opened in the spring of 2015.
This means Iiyama is now easily and efficiently accessible from anywhere in Japan. We hope to see you in Iiyama.

Onsen (Hot springs)
Iiyama City is home to four onsen (hot springs) resorts: Iiyama-Yutaki onsen, Togari onsen, Madarao-Kogen onsen, and Iiyama-Hokuryuko onsen. Each offers spectacular views of the Shinshu landscape, allowing visitors to gaze at the mountain ranges or listen to the flow of the Chikuma river while enjoying the baths.
Why not get rid of any traveling fatigue and enjoy a few moments of bliss at one of our onsen!?
Shinshu Iiyama is known as "snow country's little Kyoto" for its many temples and shrines, which visitors can enjoy while walking around the city. With continued performances of spiritual rites like the Gosokudaidai kagura, passed down from the 17th century, and Hashira-matsu gyouji, recognized as an Important Intangible Cultural Property in January 2011, visitors can experience ancient prayer rituals.
In addition, the tradition and culture of Shinshu Iiyama live on in traditional handicrafts. Iiyama's uchiyama paper is created by laying raw materials for paper on the snow to bleach, and Iiyama-made Buddhist altars are enriched by the local faith, as well as optimal weather for lacquering techniques.
Iiyama City also has some of the heaviest snowfall in the world. The city offers a way of life and natural scenery available only in snow country, including the giant beech trees of Mt. Nabekura and the Chikumagawa (also known as the Shinanogawa), Japan's longest river. This gorgeous natural landscape represents Japan's "original hometown scenery," which fascinates many visitors.
Shojuan temple was founded by Etanzenji (Shojurojin), a 17th century priest, and was one of three famous hermitages (along with Shidoan and Kitoan of the Inuyama clan) during the Edo period (1615-1868). Iiyama castle was constructed by Warring States Period warlord Kenshin Uesugi as a base for the Kawanakajima battles. (The site is now a public park, with castle ruins) Kosuge Shrine, one of the three most sacred areas in northern Nagano for mountain ascetics, holds 1,000 years of history. Surrounded by all this history, castle-town Iiyama is dotted with historical legacies from time immemorial.
Clear water from melted snow and a climate with four distinct seasons enrich the Iiyama landscape throughout the year.
Agricultural products like Iiyama rice, mushrooms and green asparagus are also valued throughout Japan for their high quality.
Visitors can also try sasazushi (sushi on a leaf), eaten by the troops of Kenshin Uesugi (Warring States period warlord) during battle, and Tomikura soba (noodles), known as "rare soba" for its use of leaves from the Japanese oyamabokchi plant.

Getting around Iiyama

Iiyama City, located in Nagano Prefecture's far north, can be divided roughly into six areas: Shinanodaira, Madarao Kogen, Hokuryuko, Togari Onsen, Nabekura Kogen, Central Iiyama. Visitors can experience the traditional Japanese way of life in any season, and enjoy a variety of experiences in each district.

Madarao Kogen (Highlands) Area
An Activity Paradise above the Clouds
In the Japanese classic song Furusato (hometown), Mt. Madarao is known as "that mountain of rabbit chasing." In the Madarao highlands, at an elevation of 1000 meters, 50 kilometers of maintained trails wind around rich forests, mystical lake Nozomiko, and the Numanohara Shitsugen (marshland), colored with bright marsh flowers.
In addition to hiking, visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as powder ski resort. These trails are also the starting point of the 80 kilometer Shinetsu trail.
Shinanotaira Area
A village of green rice paddies and Restaurant Kamakura Village
With clear spring water and vast expanses of cultivated fields, this area offers an opportunity to experience Japan's simple country life. The symbol of Shinanodaira, Mt. Kuroiwa is home to both the Gifu butterfly and the rare Hime-gifu butterfly. The mountain has been designated a nationally protected habitat, and appeared in Meiji-era writer and poet Toson Shimazaki's "Sketch of the Chikuma River." With thousands of dogtooth violet flowers blooming in the spring, and endless fields of snow interrupted only only by snow huts (Restaurant Kamakura Village) in winter, Shinanodaira is a great place to experience the full variety of seasonal change.
Togari Onsen Area
Flowers, hot springs, and traditional Japanese scenery
Here is the home country of a tourist home where the service is simple and full of humanity. It can drop in and can enjoy country stay leisurely centering on hot spring for day bathing and about 80 farmhouse tourist homes. Such like “Kogenin” familar as a hydrangea temple, Tondaira highlands and "Togari trail" having various courses, walking spots are completely prepared. The foods growing in the rich climate and the homemade dish of female proprietor appeal you too in Togari area.
Central Iiyama
Elegant streets of temples and shrines in "Snow country's little Kyoto"
Because castle-town (central) Iiyama is home to more than twenty temples, it is variously known as a "Temple Town" and "Snow country's little Kyoto." The paths between each temple are well maintained, and temple enthusiasts can try out the Seven Lucky Gods tour or stamp orienteering. Central Iiyama has other attractions as well, including traditional hand-crafter Buddhist altars, roofing architecture unique to snow country, and the popular Mayumi Takahashi doll museum.
A relaxing stroll through the city center can be a great way to spend the day.
Hokuryuko Lake Area
A heart-shaped lake and historic shrine
The heart-shaped Hokuryuko is surrounded by deep forest. The landscape has remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years, it's natural appearance often inspiring. Rapeseed blossoms growing on the banks of the Chikuma River appear in the song Oborozukiyo (Moonlit night), the terraced Fukushima rice paddies were chosen as part of Japan's "Selection of 100 rice paddy terraces," and the lake was used as a location in shooting the film Amidado-dayori.
The 1300 year-old Kosuge shrine is known as one of northern Nagano's three most sacred places for mountain ascetics, along with Togakushi and Iizuna. The path leading to the shrine is lined with cedars, and called "the woods of God."
Nabekura Highlands Area
A hometown mountain with abundant beech tree forests
The forest of beeches spread across Mt. Nabekura has supported the local way of life for many years, and in return people have carefully protected the trees.
Various large farms operate on the highlands, at an altitude of 500 meters, where fertile soil and clean water produce delicious vegetables.
The Nabekura Kogen Mori-no-ie visitor center offers many one of a kind outdoor experience programs such as snowshoeting, and various maintained trails weave through the surrounding area.

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