- November 04 2015
Recommended Itinerary for Exploring Togakushi Area, a spiritual place in Nagano!
There are numerous shrines in Japan, but the Togakushi Shrine in Nagano is a very rare, magical shrine surrounded by nature. It is known as the main shrine for mountain worship, and many foreign tourists come to visit along with the local people.
Togakushi Shrine is not just one shrine, but five shrines that is located at the foothills of the Togakushi Mountain. These shrines are all 2 to 3 kilometers apart from each other, and there is a popular trail called the Togakushi Kodo that connects the shrines, and people worship at all five of them, one by one.
But it’s quite difficult to walk the whole way, if you’re not used to hiking. So today, we will show you how to go to all of the famous sites in the Togakushi Shrine area and experience walking through the trail in one day.
How to get to Togakushi Shrine from Nagano station / 9:30 From Nagano Station
To go to Togakushi Shrine, ride on the Alpico bus (“Via Bird Line, To Togakushi Kogen”) from the 7th platform where bullet trains stop at in Nagano station. They only have one bus per hour, so make sure you check the time!
You will arrive at the Togakushi area in an hour or so.
10:30 Arrive at Togakushi Okusha
First, we will go to the most famous “Okusha”. Get off at the bus stop, “Togakushi Okusha Iriguchi (Entrance)”. The Okusha is up in the middle of the mountain which is about thirty to forty minute walk on the moutain path. People stop their cars and motorcycles around this bus stop and walk up the mountain to go worship.
It is a thirty to forty minute walk to get to the Okusha on the mountain path. Cedar trees are lined up along the path, and this is one of the things to see in Togakushi Shrine.
If you’re not used to hiking, it will probably take about an hour and a half to go to and back from the Okusha shrine. Look at this article for more information about the Okusha trekking.
12:00 Let’s eat Togakushi soba and soft ice cream at “Naosuke”!
After you come back from the Okusha, let’s eat Togakushi soba and soft ice cream at Naosuke, at the foothill!
Togakushi soba is one of the three famous soba noodles in Japan. They are easy to eat and very refreshing after a long walk!
After the meal, try their soft ice cream too. Kumazasa tea and soba ice cream. They’re both good, but I prefer the soba flavor that tastes like nuts!
If you don’t know what soba noodles are in the first place, check this article out!
13:00 Ninja experience at the Ninja residence!
Togakushi is an area that has a ninja school that currently continues on, called the Togakushi Ryu. Across from the Okusha parking lot, there are places like the Ninja Museum and Shuriken (Ninja Star) School.
You can throw the ninja stars at the school. It’s pretty hard, even for adults!
You might think this is for children, but adults tend to be more excited than kids actually.
You will also enjoy Karakuri Yashiki, where you have to find your way out of the building made like a maze, with ninjas hiding the exits.
The Nimpo Reference Library has many exhibits about ninja stars etc. If you would like to know more about this Ninja Yashiki (residence), read this article.
15:30 Worship at the Togakushi Shrine “Nakasha”
Nakasha is a thirty to forty minute walk from the Okusha. If you’re too exhausted from the Okusha trekking, you can get on the Alpico “To Nagano station” bus for five minutes to get there.
Nakasha is up the stone steps, right in front of the bus stop.
What you should see are again, the cedar trees. They’re not lined up like the Okusha, but there is a large tree that is about 900 years old around Nakasha.
Nakasha is bigger than Okusha, and has a beautiful appearance.
You can’t go inside, but you can worship near the entrance.
Read this article for more information about Nakasha, and other tourist sites like Kagamiike (2km walk from Nakasha).
16:00 A break at Jyurin coffee
Nakasha is located in the middle of Togakushi Kodo, and around it there are Sight-seeing Centers, Soba places, hotels and cafes.
Coffee made after they take their orders from customers, and homemade walnut and fig tart.
It soothes the exhaustion from the trekking.
You can rest here until the departure of the bus. Click here for more info about Cafe Jyurin!
Let’s go back to Nagano station
Go back to the Nakasha bus stop and back to Nagano station.
The last bus departs at 6:20pm, but the moutain gets darker and darker past five, so we recommend you to get on the bus before six.
When you get back to Nagano station, find a good restaurant near the station and relax!
You have to walk around for half of the day, so you will probably be very tired at this time.
How was the article? Please refer to this course example for exploring the Togakushi Kodo area and make sure you don’t leave out anything you don’t want to miss!