From top of left, Zenkoji, Mount Togakushi, Kinasa village, Nagano Big Hat arena, Aerial in Kawanakajima, Oku-Subana Valley, headquarters of Marukome (famous miso manufacturing company) in Nagano, Oyaki Japanese sweets, Togakushi ski resort, and Matsushiro Castle
Nagano (長野市, Nagano-shi, pronounced [naganoꜜ ɕi]) is the capital and largest city of Nagano Prefecture, located in the Nagano Basin (Zenkoji Daira) in the central Chūbu region of Japan. Nagano is categorized as a core city of Japan. Nagano City is the highest prefectural capital in Japan, with an altitude of 371.4 meters (1,219 ft). The city is surrounded by mountains, the highest of which is Mount Takatsuma (2,353m), and is near the confluence of the Chikuma River - the longest and widest river in Japan - and the Sai River. As of 1 June 2019[update], the city had an estimated population of 370,632 in 160,625 households, and a population density of 444 persons per km2. The total area of the city is 834.81 square kilometres (322.32 sq mi).
One important legacy of the Games was an improved transportation network. In order to improve access to Nagano in advance of the Games, Nagano was linked to the high-speed shinkansen train network. The Nagano Shinkansen (now the Hokuriku Shinkansen) was inaugurated five months before the start of the Games, and during the Winter Olympics carried 655,000 passengers. In addition, both Nagano Station and Shinonoi Station were expanded, and Imai Station in the Kawanakajima area was built to access the Athletes village. Finally, the Nagano Expressway and the Jōshin-etsu Expressway were built in the Nagano region, and another 114.9 kilometers of roads within Nagano Prefecture were improved.
In addition to a transportation legacy, several world-class venues of the 1998 Winter Olympics were built, including M-Wave, Japan's first International Skating Union (ISU) standard indoor 400m double-track, and which happens to be one of the largest hanging wooden roof structures in the world. Finally, the Athletes Village beside the newly constructed Imai Station was built in advance of the Games by the city of Nagano as future public residential housing, and loaned to the Nagano Olympic Organizing Committee during the Games. A Media Village, composed of a four-block 10-12 storey apartment complex named Asahi Danchi, was built in the Asahi district of Nagano, across the street from the M-Wave. Asahi Danchi now includes private sector housing as well as housing for government employees.
Stylized manhole cover displaying the Nagano Olympics emblem, with tactile paving
Nagano is located in north-central Nagano Prefecture, in the Nagano Basin (Zenkoji Daira), surrounding by mountains, near the confluence of the Chikuma River and the Sai River. The Sai River in Nagano should not be confused with the Sai River (Gifu) even though both rivers have the same kanji and reading, 犀川 (Saigawa). Other important rivers include the Susobana River, which originates in the Togakushi highland area; and the Torii River, which also originates in the Togakushi highland area. The Chikuma River is 367.0 km, with 29.5 km within the Nagano city limits; the Sai River is 157.7 km, with 44.2 km in Nagano; all 40.1 km of Susobana River are in Nagano City, and 10.4 km of the 34.8 km-long Torii River are in NaganoMyōkō-Togakushi Renzan National Park, Jōshin'etsu-kōgen National Park and Chūbu-Sangaku National Park are each partially located within Nagano City.
The present-day core city of Nagano includes the districts and former towns of Nagano, Shinonoi, Matsushiro, Wakaho, Kawanakajima, Kohoku, Naniai, Shinkomachi, Toyono, Togakushi, Kinasa, Ooka, Shinshushincho, Nakajo.
Mount Takatsuma, 2,353 m, straddles Myōkō, Niigata and Nagano City. It is the highest peak of the Togakushi mountain range, is one of 100 Famous Japanese Mountains, and due to its pyramidal shape it is also known as Togakushi Fuji. Takatsuma is the highest point in Nagano City. The lowest point is located in the Asano area of Toyono, 327.4 meters above sea level.
The population of Nagano City has declined by 10,000 since the mid-1990s. As of April 1, 2019, the city had a total population of 376,080 people, made up of 193,982 women and 182,098 men in 160,625 households.
Population of districts of the current Core City of Nagano
The growth and decline of the population within the various districts of Nagano City has been uneven over the past 70 years
Foreign and non-Japanese residents
The following table shows the population of foreigners and non-Japanese residents since 2014
Shinano, located approximately 20 kilometers north of Nagano. Lake Nojiri is found in Shinano. Lake Nojiri was home to Kokusaimura (International Village), a landownership association, made up principally of Christian missionaries who had cottages there from the early 20th Century.
When we first went to Lake Nojiri, the International Village was like an island of affluence in a sea of poverty. But, as the Japanese economy recovered from the war, the scales tipped until we became an island of poverty in a sea of affluence.
— Alden Matthews, My Three Worlds (2007)
Nakano, located in the Zennoji Plain, on the Chikuma River and surrounded by mountains, experienced significant growth after the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Suzaka, a former castle town (jōkamachi) during the Edo periodTokugawa shogunate on the opposite side of the Chikuma River from Nagano. The city was noted in the Meiji period for its silk industry. After World War II, an electronics industry was established. The city is also noted for apples and grapes, and the Prefectural Agricultural Research Station is located there.
Ueda, approximately 35 kilometers south of Nagano, was a former castle town of the Ueda Domain under the Tokugawa shogunate. The ruins of Ueda Castle are an important historical site in the city.
Chikuma, located approximately 20 kilometers south of Nagano, includes numerous burial tombs (tumuli) from the Kofun period. During the Nara period, several important Man'yōshū poems were set here. The area around Chikuma prospered during the Edo period as several post stations along the pilgrimage route to the famed Zenkō-ji were located here. Obasute Station, a switchback station is located here.
Ōmachi is approximately 40 kilometers west of Nagano. The Hida Mountains, also called the Japanese Northern Alps, with 3000m peaks surround Ōmachi. The area was part of the holdings of Matsumoto Domain during the Edo period.
Chikuhoku is located in the Matsumoto Basin, and the Higashijo Dam and Onikuma Dam are located here. Most of the area was under the control of Matsumoto Domain during the Edo period.
Ikusaka is approximately 50 kilometers southwest of Nagano, in the center of Nagano Prefecture. Two dams, Ikusaka Dam and Taira Dam are found here. The area of present-day Ikusaka was part of the holdings of Matsumoto Domain during the Edo period.
Hakuba, located 45 km west of Nagano Station, is an internationally renowned ski resort town in the northern Japan Alps. The surrounding valley has an annual snow fall of over 11 meters, and the 10 ski resorts have more than 200 runs. The village was an important site for 1998 Winter Olympics (Alpine skiing, ski jumping, and cross-country). Most of Hakuba is located in Chūbu-Sangaku National Park.
Myōkō, on the border of Nagano Prefecture, lies in mountains surrounding the historical entrance to the Echigo Plains. The city is surrounded by five mountains. Madarao, Myōkō, Kurohime, Togakushi and Iizuna are collectively known as the Five Peaks of Northern Shinano (Hokushingogaku). Mount Myōkō (2,454 m) is in the city, much of which is within the borders of the Myōkō-Togakushi Renzan National Park.
The city borders expanded on July 1, 1923, with the annexation of the neighbouring town of Yoshida and villages of Sarita, Miwa and Komaki.
The city again expanded on April 1, 1954, by annexing neighbouring villages of Asahi, Furusato, Yanagihara, Wakatsuki, Asakawa, Naganuma, Amori, Odagiri, Imoi and Mamejima.
In 1959, due to the flooding of Chikuma River, 71 people died or were missing and 20,000 homes were flooded.
On October 16, 1966, the city again expanded by annexing the neighbouring towns of Kawanakajima, Matsushiro and Wakaho, and villages of Shinonoi, Kohoku, Shinko, and Naniai.
During the 1985 Matsushiro earthquake, 27 people died and 60 homes were destroyed or badly damaged due to landslides. In 1999, Nagano was designated as a core city (中核市, Chūkakushi), a category of Japanese city.
Nagano continued to expand on January 1, 2005, by absorbing the municipalities of Toyono, and the village of Togakushi, and Kinasa (from Kamiminochi District), and the village of Ōoka (from Sarashina District).
The gross value of goods and services of the economy in the city of Nagano in 2016 was estimated to be 4,438,580,046,000 yen, approximately US$40.5 billion. The largest percentage of this, 41.8%, was related to wholesale and retail, followed by healthcare and welfare, 25.9%, manufacturing, was 13.7%.
In 2016, Nagano City had 183,710 people in employment, with 21.1% of workers in wholesale or retail, 14.%% in healthcare and welfare, and 11.6% are in manufacturing. Other major employers include hotels and restaurants, 9% of employees, and construction industry, 7.9%; farming and forestry workers comprised 1.1% of the working population.
Japan Post has one of its 10 national Postal College (郵政大学校, Yuuseidauigakkou) training centers located in Nagano City, 1.5 km east of Nagano Station.
Nishina, a manufacturer of hydraulic equipment for construction machinery and industrial vehicles, including forklifts, was established in 1939. It's HQ and one of its factories are in the Toyono area of Nagano City. Another of its factories is in neighboring Suzaka. In 2001, Nishina joined the Toyota Industries group.
Information Network Community (Shinano Mainichi Newspaper Network)
Universities and colleges
Nagano is home to several private and public universities. Four of the ten universities recognized as major universities in the prefecture have campuses in the city, including the newest prefectural university, The University of Nagano.
The University of Nagano, a 4-year university, replaced the 2-year Nagano Prefectural College in 2018. The university has two campuses, named for their location in Nagano, Miwa Campus and Gocho Campus. The university has an affiliated Center for Social Innovation Initiatives. The university is unique in Japan in that all first-year students live in a dormitory and all second-year students take part in overseas study programs.
Nagano Prefectural College, is a 2-year prefectural college in the Miwa area of Nagano City. The predecessor of the school was founded in 1929. It became the 4-year university, The University of Nagano, in April 2018. Nagano Prefectural College will close when its final students graduate in March 2020.
National Institute of Technology, Nagano College, is a national engineering college located in the Tokuma area of Nagano City. The national college has 5 departments: Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Electronics and Control Engineering, Electronic and Computer Science, and Civil Engineering.
Nagano Prefectural Agricultural College is a two-year practical, comprehensive agricultural college located in the Matsushiro area of Nagano.
Tsukuba Kaisei High School, Nagano Learning Center
Primary and secondary education
Nagano has 55 public elementary schools and 24 public middle schools operated by the city government, along with one public middle school operated by the national government and four private middle schools. The city has 12 public high schools operated by the Nagano Prefectural Board of Education, of which three are vocational, one public high school operated by the city government, and five private high schools. In addition, the city has four special education schools.
The nearest airport is Matsumoto Airport, connected via a 70-minute express bus from Nagano City.
Buses for the Kawanakajima Bus and the Nagano Dentetsu Bus Co. service the city and surrounding areas, departing both Nagano Station and the Nagano Bus Terminal just west of the station. Local bus provider, Alpico Kōtsū, departs from a dedicated office across the street from the Zenkō-ji Exit of Nagano Station. Long-distance highway bus services depart from the East Exit of Nagano Station. There is also a daily bus to Narita Airport.
Gururin-go is a central district bus that runs in a circular loop from Nagano Station to Zennoji, passing Zenkō-ji, the Nagano Prefectural Office, and the Nagano Bus Terminal. Regardless of where you board or disembark, the fare is 150 yen.
Nagano is surrounded by mountains which boast hiking, camping, and cycling. In addition, the city includes 46 national-designated cultural assets, 55 prefectural-designated cultural assets, 298 municipal-designated cultural assets, and finally 59 national-registered structures and 7 monuments in Nagano city.
Temples and Shrines
Zenkō-ji Buddhist temple and pilgrimage destination, that was established in its current location in the middle of the 7th century.
Togakushi Shrine, a complex of five Shinto shrines, in the mountains above Nagano, whose uppermost shrine is approached via a path of more than 300 Cryptomeria trees.
Also nearby is the Sakuma Zozan Shrine. Zozan was a 19th Japanese scholar, scientist, and linguist who advocated the opening up of Japan. In 1864, Zozan was assassinated by Kawakami Gensai, one of the most famous assassins of the Bakumatsu period, as Zozan was on return from Kyoto on a failed visit to see Emperor Kōmei to seek the opening of Japanese ports. Zozan, "a driving force in pioneering a new age", inspires the University of Nagano "to act as a source for regional revitalization and reinvigoration and as a base for knowledge that will activate industry, culture, and lifestyles in Nagano".
Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters (松代大本営跡 Matsushiro Daihon'ei Ato) was a large underground bunker complex built during the Second World War, constructed so that the central organs of government of Imperial Japan could be transferred there. Construction began in November 1944 and continued until Japan's surrender on August 15, 1945. Between 7,000 and 10,000 Korean slave laborers were used to build the complex, and it is estimated that 1,500 of them died.
Also nearby is the Tenku-ji Temple, where prayers are offered for war dead of the Kawanakajima battles. This temple is the family temple of Shingen's brother, Nobushige, who died in 1561 in one of the battles. Included at the temple is a 5-meter statue of the ruler of the underworld in Buddhist mythology, King Enma (閻魔王, Enma-ō).
Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum / Higashiyama Kaii Gallery is located 100m from Zenkō-ji.
Mizuno Museum of Art
Kitano Museum of Art is an important regional art museum located in the Wakaho district of Nagano City, located approximately 7.5 km southeast of Nagano Station. Its collection of art includes works by: