Friday, May 28, 2010

Hit this cool spot - Nagano in summertime is picture-perfect gorgeous

TODAY, Thursday MAY 27, 2010, TRAVEL, PAGE T37
Hedirman Supian,

PHOTO: Hit this cool spot, Nagano in summertime is picture-perfect gorgeous

YOU don’t always need to get all transcontinental and jetset to Europe if you’re looking to experience some mountainous greenery during your summer jaunts.

PHOTO: Flower of Japanese Alps

There are destinations closer by in the upper hemisphere. Culturally cool Japan, for instance, has Nagano. Nagano is home to the Japanese Alps, so there’s no shortage of blossoming flora and expansive scenery to gloat about online on that Facebook photo album of yours.

PHOTO: Blossoming flora and expansive scenery to gloat about


Noted in the history books for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics, this central prefecture of Japan is a vacation hotspot among locals because of its comfortably balmy climates during summer and cool ski resorts during the fall. It is also easily accessibility by rail from Nagoya or Tokyo.

PHOTO: Soaking your tender feet

The mountainous countryside boasts great outdoor hikes, lakes and waterfalls. And you can end your day soaking your tender feet in the naturally occurring onsens littered across the prefecture.

PHOTO: Wild monkeys bathing in a hot spring

Just keep in mind that you won’t be wearing anything else besides your personality at these onsens. Or, you can catch wild monkeys bathing in a hot spring. Really.

PHOTO: Medieval Matsumoto Castle

If frolicking in the nude or watching other primates isn’t your thing, other notable attractions include the medieval Matsumoto Castle, which has great views of the Alps and has a moat that’s elegantly inhabited by swans and koi.


PHOTO: Zenkoji, a 1,400-year-old temple

Zenkoji, a 1,400-year-old temple believed to house the first Buddhist statue brought to the country, is worth a visit as well.

PHOTO: Fireworks over Suwa Lake.

End your trip with a bang, literally, at the annual ginormous fireworks display at Suwa Lake in mid-August. More than 40,000 fireworks will explode and sparkle over the lake, with the surrounding mountains serving as a natural echo chamber.

Does the expression “kaboom” have the same meaning in Japanese?

Guess you will just have to find that out for yourself.
By Hedirman Supian,

PHOTO: Shell House, Karuizawa – Kitasaku – Nagano, Japan