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Sotetsu Fresa Inn Nagano-Zenkojiguchi (former Hotel Sunroute Nagano)￥5,892
Nagano is most well-known among overseas travelers as the host city for the 1998 Winter Olympics, a legacy which is still seen today at the popular M-Wave speed skating arena and the Aqua-Wing arena. But winter sports and snowbound outdoor fun are only part of what this mountain city has to present – Nagano is a year-round destination for those looking to escape the big coastal metropolises in search of some clean mountain air R&R.
Nestled in the geothermally-active Japanese Alps, Nagano boasts a wide range of hot springs and onsen hotels, many of which provide open-air baths to be enjoyed during any and all seasons – you haven’t lived until you experience drinking warmed sake in an open-air onsen in January while snow falls gently around you. Needless to say, most visitors to Nakano look to book a hotel with on-site onsen facilities; some higher grade accommodations even provide private onsen for each room. Make sure you check with Expedia to find the best onsen hotel for your Nagano trip.
Nagano’s requisite temple is the nearly 1,400 year-old Zenkoji, first built in the 7th century. Every six years, the golden hibutsu (hidden Buddha) is shown to the public – the next time this happens will be in 2021. If you visit during the summer, don’t miss the Binzuru – Nagano’s annual summer festival held every first week of August, complete with shamoji dancers clicking their wooden scoops rhythmically together. Summer also is the time to travel outside the city and into the bucolic Nagano countryside – specifically, Karuizawa and its host of family-friendly summer sites and activities. Less than two hours by shinkansen from Tokyo, Karuizawa provides a much-needed escape from the Kanto’s summer heat and humidity. And it goes without saying that the slopes around Nagano city and other ski resorts such as Shiga Kogen, Yatsugatake, and Kiso offer the best skiing in Japan outside of Hokkaido.
Whatever the season, Nagano has an outdoor activity to suite your tastes, and Expedia has a Nagano hotel to equally suite your schedule and budget.
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