NAGANO '98 Kids' Info Center



Things to Do and See in Nagano

Nagano changes with the seasons, each of which has its own special beauty. Millions of tourists visit the prefecture each year to enjoy its natural beauty. In the summer, people like to visit resort towns like Karuizawa or Kamikochi, or climb the high mountains of the Japan Alps. In the winter, huge numbers of people visit the ski slopes scattered throughout the prefecture. Nagano also boasts 166 hot springs--more than anywhere in Japan except the northern island of Hokkaido. Most of Nagano's hot springs have clear water, but a few are more unusual, with white, milky water.

Nagano also boasts plenty of history and traditional culture. About 630 different festivals are held in Nagano Prefecture each year--that's almost two a day on average! One of these is the Dosojin Fire Festival, one of the most famous and exciting fire festivals in Japan. It takes place in Nozawa Onsen Village, where the biathlon will be held. Each January, men who are 25 or 42 years old--considered to be unlucky ages--gather to build a shrine out of 20-meter (65-foot) beech logs. It's a very loud, lively day. At the end of the festival, the shrine is set on fire. The flames are thought to purify the people and make them ready for the new year.

Nagano is home to many traditional arts and crafts that are hundreds of years old. One example is wooden lacquerware. Lacquerware will be used, along with gold, silver, and bronze, in the medals given to the top athletes in the Olympic Games.