Nagano Prefecture

Nagano Prefecture

Central Powder Odyssey Tour, Gunma & Aizu areas
The Nagano Prefecture in Honshu Japan is known for its impressive mountains of the Japanese Alps. So it comes as no surprise that the Nagano Prefecture has an abundance of ski areas, many of which are amongst the most popular Japanese ski resorts for international visitors. There are 85 ski resorts in Nagano Prefecture, although sadly this number is slowly shrinking due to a decline in the popularity of skiing and snowboarding with the locals, and that many of the small low elevation ski areas are hard pressed to compete with the big named Nagano ski resorts.

Where is Nagano Prefecture?

Nagano is located in the Chūbu region of the Honshū island of Japan. From Tokyo, Nagano Prefecture is located to the west extending up to the northwest.

It’s landlocked and it borders more prefectures than any other in Japan. It has Niigata Prefecture to the north (it wraps around the northern point of the Nagano Prefecture near Nozawa Onsen so there are Niigata ski resorts to both the east and west of Nozawa), Gunma Prefecture to the northeast, Gifu Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture to the west, plus four other prefectures to the south and east.

The capital of the prefecture is Nagano City which is located in the northern most part of the prefecture, 226km northwest of Tokyo.

Nagano Ski Resorts

Of the myriad of ski resorts in Nagano Prefecture, more than half won’t even register on the radar of international skiers and snowboarders. This is partly due to their position being too far south without a corresponding increase in elevation to ensure good snow quality and quantity. Big snowfalls usually hit from the northwest and the massive Japanese Alps around Hakuba tend to shield the southerly parts of Nagano Prefecture from abundant precipitation. Some of the more southerly Nagano ski resorts are also little known because they are small, with only 2 to 3 lifts and a handful of runs.

Check out the Nagano ski resorts map above for an idea of where the main ski areas are located.

The most well known resorts are those located near the City of Nagano. The highest concentration of major ski resorts is to the northeast of the city. The household name of Hakuba is located just to the west of the city with its various ski resorts, whilst Shiga Kogen and its many little ski areas is to the east of the city. See the Nagano travel page for information on the location of these northern Nagano ski resorts. Various Niigata ski resorts are also easily accessed from the City of Nagano, including the Myoko Kogen area.

A handful of ski resorts are located near the border with Gifu Prefecture and the city of Matsumoto (famous with tourists for the Matsumoto Castle) including Mt Norikura (106km southwest of the city of Nagano) and Nomugitoge.

Another grouping of little ski areas can be found around the City of Chino, and just north of this area is the highly visited Karuizawa (143km northwest of Tokyo). This is not a powder hound destination due to mostly manmade snow, but it’s very popular because of the attached shopping centre and really fast access from Tokyo via a bullet train.

 Key Ski Resorts in Nagano Prefecture + Select Ski Towns
 West of Nagano City  East of Nagano City   Northeast of Nagano City  Northwest of Nagano City  Near Matsumoto  Karuizawa
 Hakuba Cortina  Shiga Kogen ski areas  Kijimadaira   Kurohime  Mt Norikura  Karuizawa Prince Resort 
 Hakuba Norikura  Yamaboku  Nozawa Onsen  Togakushi  Nomugitoge  
 Hakuba Tsugaike    Madarao      
 Hakuba Iwatake  Yudanaka Town  Ryuoo Ski Park      
 Happo One  Shibu Onsen Village  Tangram      
 Hakuba 47    Togari Onsen    
 Goryu          
 Sanosaka          
 Kashimayari          
           
 Hakuba Echoland          
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