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    • Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

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        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
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        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
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        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
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        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
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        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
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        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
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        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
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        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
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        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
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        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
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        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
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        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
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        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
      • Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokka...

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
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        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
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        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
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        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
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        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
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        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

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        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Lifestyle for Longevity...

        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

        Ryukyu’s Mountain Turtles – Interview wi...

        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Races and Events
      • sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

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Go Deep into Shinano

It’s been seven winters since I moved to the snowy Nagano town of Shinano-machi. I am no longer surprised by water pipes freezing or more than a meter of snow piling up overnight. As soon as I step out of my front door, I strap on my splitboard, climb up the mountain behind my house which is about a 200-meter ascent, enjoy a cup of coffee at the top and then ride all the way down to my front door, enjoying the life that only snow country can offer. 

Shinano Town is located in the mountains of northern Shinano, where many volcanoes and nonvolcanic mountains stand side by side such as Mt. Kurohime, Mt. Togakushi and Mt. Madarao, as well as one of Japan’s 100 most famous mountains—Mt. Myoko.

Shinano Town has two ski resorts, Kurohime Kogen Snow Park to the west and Tangram Ski Circus to the east across Lake Nojiri. Outside of Shinano Town, there are several major resorts all within a 30-minute drive, including all of Mt. Myoko’s resorts, Togakushi Ski Resort and Iizuna Ski Resort. 

Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

Tangram Ski Circus may not be big, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in excellent powder riding, making it one of my personal favorites in this region. It is located on the northwest slope of Mt. Madarao and offers fun tree run areas and, best of all, it’s rarely crowded. Riders can purchase the Madarao Kogen and Tangram Ski Circus combo lift pass, which lets you ride at both resorts.

Of course, resorts are not the only places where you can ski. From winter to early spring, there is a wide variety of backcountry areas for beginner riders to experts. Recommended backcountry areas include Mt. Myoko’s outer rim, accessible by lifts, Mount Kurohime and Mount Madarao.

Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

If you’re looking for a less extreme, but equally invigorating adventure, jump on a snowshoe tour. As a snowshoe and forest therapy guide, I enjoy taking guests to Togakushi. The sacred forest around the inner shrine of Togakushi Shrine is one of the most popular places for snowshoeing, as this flat forest is dotted with giant oak, birch and beech trees.

Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

The main attraction is the picturesque snow-covered rows of 400-year-old cedar trees leading from the Zuishinmon Gate. Combined with the silence of the forest in winter, it is a truly mysterious and spiritual place. If you go further to Kagami-ike Pond, you will see a magnificent view of the jagged Togakushi Mountain Range and a snow-covered field above the frozen pond.

To book tours, visit Shinano Discovery.

Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

For a good workout, Mt. Hakama and the beech forest near the summit offer spectacular views of Mt. Myoko and Mt. Kurohime. 

Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

Cross-country skiers should definitely go to Dowa no Mori Snow Wave, a cross-country course certified by the Ski Association of Japan. The course is located at Kurohime Kogen. Gear rentals are also available. Visit Dowa no Mori Snow Wave.

Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

Back in Shinano Town, you can also enjoy a walk by Lake Nojiri. While Lake Nojiri is more popular during the green season, it is also enjoyable in winter. You can even hang a hammock and have a cup of coffee by the lake. It almost looks like a white sandy beach with all the snow on the shore.

Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

If you have always wanted to try ice fishing, but don’t want to sit for hours in a hut on the ice, you can also fish for smelt in comfort. In the past, Lake Nojiri used to be completely iced over, and people made many holes in the thick ice to fish for wakasagi (Japanese smelt fish). Recently, due to global warming, the surface of Lake Nojiri does not freeze over. Instead, from Nov. 1 to the beginning of April, many wakasagi boats take avid fishers out. Fishers can enjoy the warmth of the boat while dropping a line through a hole in the floor.

Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

At its deepest point, Lake Nojiri is almost 40 meters deep so it may be challenging to pull the line up. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t get any fish, as the atmosphere of winter fishing while sipping on sake makes the experience worth it. More info on their website here.

Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

Another way to stay warm is The Sauna run by LAMP, a stylish guesthouse and cafe near Lake Nojiri. This is an authentic Finnish-style log sauna. After warming up inside, you can cool down in the snowy landscape outside. The sauna is also available for private groups. Visit their website to book.

Shinano Town is dotted with a variety of lodges and hotels, especially around the Kurohime Kogen Lake Nojiri and Tangram areas. For information on accommodation, visit Shinano Town’s official website.

Getting There

This snowy region has limited transportation options so it is recommended to rent a car during your stay to give you the flexibility to explore the area. It is 30 minutes by train from Nagano Station to Kurohime Station on the Kita Shinano Line. From there, you can rent a car from Nikoniko Rent-a-car. Rental car availability is limited here so call ahead to reserve or rent a car from Nagano Station and drive to Shinano Town (30-40 minutes).

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Latest posts

Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Li...

Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

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A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

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