26 August 2017

Just two weeks ago, I had the chance to join several other media representatives, bloggers and selected guests (all fans of Japan) at NHK WORLD’s special screening of ‘Nagano Alpine Adventure’ in Singapore. The documentary, produced under NHK Nagano, took place at JAPAN RAIL CAFE over two separate sessions. A lovely bilingual emcee and a self-professed oshiro otaku (お城オタク) who adores historical castles led us through the screening, and the hour long programme was split into several sections for easy digestion.

Recognise this image? ☟

The famous bathing “snow monkeys” who soak in hot springs are actually found in Jigokudani Yaenkoen Park, Nagano (長野). This landlocked prefecture located in central Honshu is home to a steep and high mountainous region. The scenic area is also where you will find the famous 3000-meter-class Japan Alps. A short 1 hour 45 minutes away from Tokyo, Nagano is a growing tourism destination for both locals and foreigners alike.

After a brief introduction about the prefecture, we were shown the first short clip. In the documentary, the audience follows two foreigners who reside in Nagano as they guide us around their favourite spots to visit.

The first segment focused on Ashish, who hails from India and runs a small restaurant selling his hometown delicacies in Nagano together with his Japanese wife and son.

Ashish has lived in Nagano for 12 years and knows the area like the back of his hands.

We were shown parts of Matsumoto Castle (松本城), which has extremely steep steps that look almost vertical! The castle is well-known for its exterior — unlike most feudal castles in Japan that are white in colour, Matsumoto Castle is painted with lacquer annually and is black! Another factor differentiating this special castle is its lack of modern facilities such as elevators, so you get to experience what it was really like when the castle was inhabited years ago.

Matsumoto Castle is beautiful in all seasons
Steep staircases within the premises

Renowned for its soba (そば, buckwheat noodles), Nagano is also home to magnificent landscapes. One great way to discover the hidden nooks and crannies of the city is by cycling!

Ashish introduces us to his favourite soba restaurant in Azumino City
Ashish on a leisure cycling trip with his son

We then follow our second guide, Cristina, as she brought us around Chino City.

Along the way, Cristina runs into farmers who are harvesting butterburs

Cristina, an Italian working in Nagano for the local tourism office, waxes lyrical about the delicious local produce and food. It’s not hard to see why — after all, Nagano’s climate and rich soil are perfectly suited to grow produce such as strawberries, cherries, apples, peaches and a variety of vegetables. Visitors are welcome to join in picking fruits during harvest season too.

Did you know?

Nagano is also the prefecture boasting the highest wine grape production volume in the whole country! Other must-eats include Shinshu Beef (信州ビーフ), a high-quality wagyu that has an ideal balance of fatty marbling and lean meat, and Shinshu Salmon (信州サーモン) that has beautiful orange flesh ideal for smoking or as sashimi.

Look at that delicate marbling!

Despite being landlocked, you can still find pristine waters in Nagano in its many gorgeous lakes. In summer, Lake Suwa, the largest lake in Nagano, hosts a large-scale fireworks festival which attracts visitors from all over the country. More than 40,000 fireworks light up the sky and reflects upon the clear waters of the lake.

Fireworks over Lake Suwa

With an abundance of fun activities suitable for both the young and old, Nagano is a captivating prefecture that has so much to offer. For those interested in visiting, you can gather more resources and information from their official tourism guide found here!

Lucky winner walking away with a DOMO plushie!

At the end of the special screening, participants had the chance to win a DOMO plush toy by simply answering a quiz about Nagano. Attendees who didn’t win had no time to be disappointed because… DOMO himself made a guest appearance! The adorable brown mascot gamely posed for photos with everyone too.


Last but not least, you can access NHK WORLD TV on Singtel CH157, Starhub CH812 and even online. You’ll be able to watch plenty of enthralling programs on their official website, as well as the free smartphone app!

Remember to catch their latest series ‘A Peak at Nagano’, which showcases tourism spots in the prefecture. Other must-watch programs centred on Nagano include ‘Nagano Alpine Adventure’, ‘Journeys in Japan’ and ‘CYCLE AROUND JAPAN’, which are all currently available on their video-on-demand (VOD) page. For the unfamiliar, NHK WORLD is the 24-hour English TV channel of Japan’s only public broadcasting station NHK. Here, you can get the latest and most accurate information about Japan anytime, anywhere and on any device. Topics covered include food, travel, culture and many more!

So what are you waiting for? Tune in today!!


Web: nhk.jp/nhkworld
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nhkworld






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