Have you ever been to somewhere that left you with a plethora of profound memories that you can’t forget? Well, Lifesara has just been to such a place! Today we will be telling you about the journey to this quaint Japanese city called ‘Nagano’, also known as the city of nature. It’s a city with countless sights worth seeing!
If you are planning a trip to Japan, then tag along as we show you the full breadth of the wonder that is the city of Nagano (We also have a 1-day trip travel plan in Toyama and a 1-day trip travel plan in Gifu). We guarantee you that this review will surely make you consider planning a 1-Day Trip to Nagano. Let’s go and see what this city has to offer and see how you would rate them! ~ ✨
Nagano, A beautiful city that popular for top-class Shine Muscat grapes!
Before diving in, we will give you a brief rundown of what Nagano is like. Nagano is a very beautiful and atmospheric city that is famous for its Shrine Muscat and Nanago Purple (ナガノパープル) grape plantations. If you are a grape lover, then this trip is right up your alley. ✨
Also, here is the rough overall plan and activities for those who need a brief rundown. 😍
- A visit to the grape plantation with a grape picking session at the Nakamura Farm.
- Lunch at the famous Obuse restaurant.
- The Hokusai museum, dedicated to Houkusai, the great artist from the Edo era and the creator of “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”.
- City biking
- An ice cream break at the cozy and homey Milgreen store.
- End the day with dinner at a restaurant near the Zenkoji Temple, the prime landmark of Nagano.
Next, we move onto the Shinkansen. Nagano is a city that could be reached with a lot of train lines but the main factor is the seat; this is a 1 hour trip (with an option of a Non-Reserve ticket that you will have to stand instead for the entire hour). In the pics above, we choose the Express type which also doubles the price resulting in an 8,340 Yen price for our tickets.
Our trip was during October, which means the weather is comfortably cool and requires only a single layer of the outer coat. The station, due to being a transportation hub, is crowded with Tokyo dwellers and passengers; therefore set aside some extra time in case you lost your way as even the Japanese sometimes got lost as well! 😂
After Reaching the Nagano Station, we have 2 travel options
- Rent a car from the main Nagano station and drive there or
- Take a train from the main Nagano station to the Suzaka station, then take a taxi to the farm (No more than 2,000 Yen as it is around 7 kilometers)
And of course! We chose the Taxi as a means to get to the grape plantation.
Tadaaaa~ here we are at the Nakamura Farm grape plantation!
Once we are here, the owner will take us for some grape harvesting. There are 3 types of grapes on this farm which are Shrine Muscat, Nagano Purple and Queen Nina
The Shrine Muscat is a grape that originated in Japan. It took years of research to perfect this type of grape. Even though the Shine Muscat is a big hit and is cultivated in a lot of countries, the Japanese variety is registered as authentic; the tastiest of them all.
Shine Muscat, This kind of grape has a signature aroma and is a trending item in the Thai market. You might find them in the Thai supermarket with the exorbitant price. That’s why getting to harvest Shine Muscat at Japan is such a treat, as the flavor and the skin are still fresh, the size is so huge and the price is so affordable!
We also learned that the Muscat comes off its branch really easily and would scatter all over the place if dropped (Sadly, we experienced this first hand by dropping one. LoL)
This is Nagano Purple, its scent is akin to those of grape juice and the texture isn’t as firm as others. If you don’t prefer jelly-like texture; this one suits for you as it’s a lot softer and comes off in a single bite.
Last, we have Queen Nina which tastes like jelly, has a soft texture and also a firmer flesh. The taste is such an eye-opening experience as it’s almost impossible to try out such a flavor in Thailand. This last one is probably my favorite taste.
Sadly, we miss plucking the Queen Nina as the owner already harvested all of them. This type of grape has a very particular harvest time and is available only during September. So naturally, being the lazy bum that arrived late in October, we missed plucking the Queen Nina. But we still get to taste some of the pre-packaged ones and they are still amazing!
The owner is really amazing, she will educate you on how to take care all grapes including their harvesting process as well as the growing season for each grape. If you are interested in the whole cultivation process and try out the grapes, then be sure to visit them. Follow this link if you are interested.
Eat fresh sashimi from Kurabe Obuse Yoritsuki Cuisine
After the harvest, we left the Nakamura Farm and stopped at the Obuse Yoritsuki Cuisine Kurabe in the city (which we will be calling them a ‘Kurabe’) for lunch.
Kurabe is perhaps the most famous restaurant in the city. The queue in front is really long and every table in there is occupied. We recommend that you spare some extra time for waiting or make a reservation if you have a Japanese phone number.
Inside, numerous Sake bottles lined the shop’s interior which gives off the traditional Japanese aura really well. If you are observant, you will notice that most customers are senior Japanese citizens.
The restaurant signature material that speaks for the Nagano prefecture is the Shinshu Salmon and the Great King Shinshu Iwana, which were raised in the cleanest natural body of water of the Sakuho district. If you love sashimi then don’t miss out on this one! 😍
The fish are offered both as a set-menu and an a-la-carte.
Another menu we tried out is the Recommended set which is their main set and it looks gorgeous!
Personally, we love the Sashimi set as it matches our palate the best. While the second set is more focused on the side dishes and would match the palate of most adults. A glance at other tables, also reveal that they order the same Recommended Set as well. If you are in Nagano, be sure to pay this restaurant a visit. 🥰
📍Opening Hours : 11.00 – 22.00 (Last Order 20.00)
Location : 807 Obuse, Kamitakai District, Nagano 381-0293 Japan
Website : https://www.obusekurabu.com/
After a meal, let’s go have some sweets, specifically chestnut ice-cream. The shop is all the more conspicuous due to the long queue and its location near our lunch restaurant.
And of course, how can we miss the highlight of this shop, the ice-cream with chestnut topping on top that looks like Soba noodles! The presentation is really cute too with a chestnut mascot! The branding effort is something we won’t forget anytime soon.
Visit the Hokusai Museum which dedicated to Hokusai,
the great artsist from Edo era.
After the ice-cream shop, we went to the Hokusai Museum. This is a museum that dedicated to this Japanese master artist, painter and printmaker. The place isn’t too hard to spot as it is just the opposite of the ice-cream place.
In the brochure, we can see Hokusai’s famous “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”
The museum is packed with information about his life and his works from his career that spanned over 70 years.
After seeing the museum in its entirety and Hokusai’s work, we were really impressed with this artist as the sheer number of his work is just overwhelming! A glance already revealed that there are more than 100 pieces of work in there! His art style also changes with the period in which he created the work. Absolute treat for the eye!
📍Museum’s opening hours : 9.00am – 17.00pm
Entrance fees : 1000 Yen
Take a slow life cycling around the city
Let’s switch up the atmosphere a bit and rent some bikes. Our next destination requires a bit of traveling time that’s why a bike is a suitable choice to cut down the traveling time. The bike rental shop we choose is within the Obuse city proper as there are many bikes rental shops in the city. For this trip, we will be choosing Maaru as our rental service today.
A few photos stops during the trip to enjoy the quaint atmosphere and mood.
Visit and try the homey dairy ice cream from Milgreen
A bit further outside the city, we ran into this shop called Milgreen, a dairy shop that uses milk from their raised cows to make ice cream. On the opposite side of the shop, we can clearly see the cow’s pen. A very lovely sight!
The shop is decorated in a minimalist style. The front lawn also serves as a bicycle parking area.
Let’s see our choice of ice cream. The white you are seeing comes straight from the milk flavor; while the texture isn’t as light as a Gelato, it’s a bit thicker. Just the right amount to strike that perfection. Besides, if you love Soft Cream, you might want to try out their Soft Cream that comes in a cone (the right in the photo). If you miss this one then turn your bike around and go grab one! It’s too good to miss out!
Experience the steamed beef from Monzensaryo Yayoiza
Let’s end the day with a dinner place that isn’t too far from Zenkoji Temple, the Monzensaryo Yayoiza restaurant.
The first thing on the menu that gets us excited is the impression that it gives. We were under the impression that they were serving Shabu-style hotpot as the arrangement and the social media posts of this shop point toward a Shabu-style eatery.
But once we started ordering, we discovered a whole new way of eating as the food comes in “steamed” which is very different from the usual Shabu hotpot or grill. Besides, the beef is sooooo tender when it goes into your mouth!
They offer 2 kinds of sauces to go with the meat and vegetable; sesame sauce and Ponzu sauce. These sauces are really good at contrasting the taste of the ingredients. Perfection in a bowl!
While waiting for the main course, we ordered some Sashimi as an appetizer. The freshness is top-notch and will make a Sashimi lover squeal with joy.
The place leaves a really deep impression and we would come back again if we stopped by Nagano. If you wanted to try out this restaurant then follow this location as below.
📍Location : Daimonchō-503 Nagano, 380-0841, Japan
If you have a plan to visit Japan, then Nagano is also a prime choice for a relaxing trip for your mind and body; as well as your taste buds with the various delicious food on offer. We hope that our trip to Nagano will enable you to appreciate your trip even more. See you in the next destination!