An overnight trip to the little-known places in Nagano! The most beautiful starry skies in Japan in Achi! (First Half)

This is the first half of a travel blog, which is about a 3 days/2 nights tour around ‘Hirugami Onsenkyo’ in Nagano Prefecture with full of wilderness. This area is very well known for its beautiful clear stars.

We visited “Hanamomo no Sato” at the beginning of May!

Hanamomo was anciently brought to Japan from China, and in the Edo era the breed had been improven, producing a peach tree that blooms beautiful flowers. There is a different beauty than that of cherry blossoms.

The “Hanamomo no Sato” in Nagano is in season from the end of April to the beginning of May, so if you missed the cherry blossom season in Tokyo, you should definitely visit Nagano.

How to get to “Hanamomo no Sato”

Hanamomo no Sato is near the Hirugami Hotspring Village, which is a little further from Iida-shi in Nagano.

You can get on a couple trains but it’ll take you five hours.
What I recommend is that you get on the JR Tokkyu Azusa train from Shinjuku to Okaya station (which is a two and a half hour ride), rent a car at Okaya and go sightseeing by car.

We went from Shinjuku to Okaya, then to Suwako, Iida, and to Hirugami Hotspring Village!

Stop by at Suwako if time allows you!

The best thing about a car trip is that you get to stop by wherever you want.

Since you are in Okaya, you should stop by at Suwako.

Suwako is the largest lake in Nagano and a very famous one in Japan, and it holds a firework festival in the summer.

In Suwa, the must-see is Tateishi Park, and you should definitely go to “Tomi”, a famous soba restaurant by the park!

Tateishi Park is where you get to see the panoramic view of the Suwako.

There are adventure playgrounds for kids to play, so the park is always filled with family groups.

If you are in Tateishi Park, try the soba at “Tomi”!
It is a well-known soba place around here.

You can see the beautiful view of Suwako from the window.

And here is the highly recommended Tempura soba! A whole large shrimp all to yourself.

The bad thing is that this place is too popular that it’s always crowded.
You should avoid the peak.

Stop by at Ina and go shopping for flowers and other goods

About an hour drive from Tateishi Park, my guess is that you will be quite tired from the driving.

So stop by at Ina and go shopping!

Where we recommend is a flower and goods shop in a warehouse, called “Hana to Utsuwa Kusa no Ne”. You can buy beautifuly arranged flowers along with the vase.

Lots of fancy flower vases and bowls.

They have cactuses and leafy plants too.

On the second floor, there are Japanese interior goods froom the Showa era. It would make you forget the time just by looking at them!

To the “Yumoto Hotel Achikawa,” A hotspring hotel in Hirugami Hotspring Village

After another hour drive, we are finally here at the Hirugami Hotspring Village!

The hotel we stayed at is very huge and has been here for a long time.

Yumoto Hotel Achikawa Nagano

Even though it’s called a hotel, the elegance is like a Japanese-style inn itself.

The popular room is a Japanese style room with tatami. They do have Western style rooms too.

The biggest fun is the food you eat in the room!Lots of food from the land and sea

In a Japanese style inn, we normally have dinner in our individual rooms, which is called a “kaiseki” style.

Look at this feast! This hotel is famous for its food too.
Starting with appetizers, the sashimi and other food gets delivered to the table.

You can heat up the soup on the table. The soup is made with rich broth and the bamboo shoots and seafood meatballs are very relieving.

They also have yakiniku, where you get to grill your own meat and vegetables. Nagano beef, Shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, and Japanese green pepper, eaten with rock salt.

Tempura! The tempura here is a little special, with crumbled nuts in its batter. Very crunchy. Shrimp, eggplant, and string beans as well.

Once you’re full, let’s go to the natural hotspring at the end for bright skin

The delight of a Japanese style inn, hotspring after the meal!

Here they have so many varietied of hotsprings so maybe there’s not enough time to go to all of them at once. There are many people who go at night, and then wake up early the next day to go again.

The most beautiful starry sky in Japan at 1400 meters above sea level. The night sky in Achison.

After a good meal and bath, you’re about to go to sleep, but wait just a bit.

Here in Achison, not just the Hanamomo is famous, but also the starry sky.

You’re very close to the sky because t is 1400 meters above sea level, and since it’s surrounded by mountains, there are no unneeded light. Nagano also has very fresh air, so it has so many good conditions to see the stars.

The Achison has many bus tours to go see the stars from Japanese style inns and hotels, so make sure to check those out too!

We had a very busy schedule today, and tomorrow we are finally going to “Hanamomo no Sato”! You can check that out in the next article: “An overnight trip to Hanamomo no Sato! Cannot take my eyes off of the beautiful Hanamomo! (Second Half)”

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Written by y_a_j_i

This is Yaji that was born in Nagano and living Tokyo now. I love drinking, especially Japanese sake and Japanese tapas. I will introduce many great restaurants and bars all over Tokyo!