This is an article about sightseeing in Ueda city, in Nagano. We joined the local Gion festival, and explored the old castle town.

Day Trip In Ueda City in Nagano

I visited Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture!
Ueda, the third biggest castle town in Nagano Prefecture, was developed at the foot of Ueda castle built by Yukishige Sanada, a samurai warrior during the Sengoku period.
It’s located within an hour and half away from Tokyo station by Shinkansen Asama.
Recently the city was also set in a Japanese animation movie called “Summer Wars”.

Joining Gion Festival, Summer Festival In Ueda

Fortunately there was a festival going on in Ueda on the day of my arrival.
It's called "Ueda Gion Festival”, taken place every July by the local people. They carry mikoshi* and parade in a town center. *mikosi= a portable shrine

Girls walking around the town in their yukata* *yukata= a traditional Japanese cotton wear for summer

Numbers of mikoshis are marching along the main street at a station square where all potable shops lined up.

Since the town actually gets dark at night unlike Tokyo, the light of mikoshi glows nicely then.

Shishimai* being soothed. *shishimai= a big masked lion that performs a dance as a prayer for a good household and harvest.
The festivals recently have been a place where young people come out to meet new people. Girls wear pretty yukata all together while boys appeal their manness by carrying mikoshi on their shoulders.
Hmm, there sure is such a role of festivals.

Balloon flowers.
I had already eaten dinner then but found a takoyaki* shop that had huge octopus inside. *takoyaki= Japanese octopus dumplings cooked in a special pan.

Drools… I couldn’t help buying them.
Eating takoyaki innocently at a business hotel in some suburb made me feel like I’ve come to such a mysterious town.

July had passed so fast. Thinking that the summer is almost over, it made me feel like I’m going to miss it badly.

Walking Down Yanagi Machi, A Castle Town of Yukimura Sanada

Next morning, I headed to Yanagi machi* from the hotel. *machi= a town or village

It's located 15 mins away on foot from the station and there remains a good old cityscape of the Northern highway.

How pretty the cityscape looks in this town! Walking down the stone pavements with all nagaya* houses lined up on the street, it felt like a typical castle town of traditional Japanese. *nagaya= a traditional terraced house

A Hidden Gem In Ueda! “Levian” the Natural Yeast Bread Bakery

My no.1 reason for visiting Yanagimachi was actually the bakery called “Levian”. It is famous for their natural yeast bread and their main branch is located in Yoyogi Hachiman in Tokyo. There is a café on the second floor where you can enjoy the bread and drinks that you just purchased in a nice tatami floor with a cool wind blowing in.

I was so glad that I could finally make it to this place!
I bought as much bread as I wanted.
Then I had to rush back to the station square and barely got into the Shinkansen after checking out the hotel.
Here are items I had got.

An apricot pie, cherry bread, figs and walnuts bread.
If you’re a bread craver, these are the bread you must go for.

Marmalade Made From Sanbokan* Jams From Iijima Store

*Sanbokan= Citrus sulcata, a sour orange
They had valencia orange jams and mulberry jams that are timely limited versions. Would be good souvenirs for your parents.

The natural yeast bread has a very nice scent and is well stacked in the outside skin.
Its white part tastes good too, but it’s interesting how the taste of bread changes only due to a difference in fungi. I definitely recommend you drop by this special bakery shop when you have a chance to visit Ueda.

Although people typically visit Ueda castle when they sightsee in Ueda city, I was able to fully enjoy their local festival and Yanagi machi this time around.

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