Encircled by mountains the city of Nagano is the capital city of Nagano Prefecture and a major jumping off point for hiking and ski trips in the Japan Alps. Nagano City’s most popular attraction is ancient Zenkoji Temple, which was built in the 7th century and is famous for its gigantic Sanmon and Niomon gates.
Within easy reach of Nagano are the popular ski resorts of Hakuba, Shiga Kogen and Nozawa Onsen (also known for its hot springs). Other nearby attractions include the town of Obuse, the former home of famed ukiyo-e painter Katsushika Hokusai, and the snow monkeys of the hot spring town Yudanaka.
In this article we will look at your options for traveling to Nagano from Kanazawa.
Traveling by Shinkansen
The easiest and most comfortable way to travel from Kanazawa to Nagano is on the shinkansen bullet train. A non-reserved seat on the Hakutaka service will get you to Nagano Station in 1 hour and 26 minutes, and a reserved seat on the Kagayaki service will get you there in just 1 hour and 5 minutes. The fare for a non-reserved seat is 8,440 yen. Fares for reserved seats vary but are usually around 500 yen more. However, these services are fully covered if you have a Japan Rail Pass. For more information see our article on the Hokuriku Shinkansen.
Traveling on Local Train Lines
It is possible to travel between Kanazawa Station and Nagano Station on local lines. However the journey would take about 6 hours for a fare of 4,910 yen. Because the local train route between these two stations is controlled by private railway companies this journey would not be covered by the Japan Rail Pass. You can use English online route finders like Hyperdia or Jorudan to look up train times and fares for private railways.
Traveling by Car
Although the easiest way to get to Nagano City is by shinkansen, if you travel by car then you have more opportunities to explore the scenic countryside of Nagano Prefecture. There are plenty of car rental offices near Kanazawa Station, and once you have rented your car all you have to do is put your destination’s address into the car’s GPS satellite navigation system and you are on your way. The most direct route will take about 3 hours and 20 minutes (with traffic) and you will have to pay expressway toll fees of up to 5,760 yen. Here is a map of the route and see our article for more information on car rental in Kanazawa.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.