The area comprising Nagano and Niigata Prefectures is known locally as “Shin’etsu”. Thus, the Shin'etsu Shizenkyo Nature Park resort area straddles the mountainous regions of Northern Nagano and Southern Niigata (Myoko City). From the world-renowned Snow Monkey Park and the popular ski resorts of Shiga Highlands and Nozawa Hot Springs, used in the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics, to the two National Parks included in the area, you can find here many unique and exciting sightseeing spots.
For thousands of years, people from Shin’etsu have braved heavy snows and distinct temperature shifts. These harsh conditions, as well as close connections to the natural world, helped to shape a diverse local culture.
To preserve this unique natural heritage, the following cities, towns, and villages have committed to protecting the natural environment by promoting balance between human beings and the ecosystem:
Iiyama City / Nakano City / Myoko City / Yamanouchi Town / Shinano Town / Iizuna Town / Kijimadaira Village / Nozawa Onsen Village / Sakae Village Together, this group is calle "Shin'etsu Shizenkyo."
Gorgeous natural landscapes in all four seasons, gently flowing waterways at the foot of towering mountains, and a warm and welcoming community – discover all of this, and more, in the Shin'etsu Shizenkyo Nature Park area.
With the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line and the new Iiyama Station in spring 2015, the soaring mountain peaks, fresh water, brilliant flowers, and rich earth of the Japanese countryside are now easier to access and enjoy than ever.
The nine cities, towns, and villages of the Shin’etsu Shizenkyo Nature Park are nestled in the foothills of the mountains dividing Nagano and Niigata Prefectures. These communities have long relied on one another for survival and prosperity. There is no better place to experience Japan's untouched natural environment.
You may have heard that Japan is the snowiest place in the world, but did you realize that the Shin’etsu Shizenkyo Nature Park is the area that boasts the heaviest snowfalls in Japan? With over one meter of snow falling in the low valleys, the mountain area can easily accumulate four meters or more of deep snowdrifts. It is a magnet for Japan’s snow-lovers who flock to live in the area. Of course, you can ski or snowboard, and try all manner of winter sports, but here you can also enjoy other fun, snow-based activities, such as building a kamakura, a traditional Japanese snow hut.
The water released by the slow melting of these heavy winter snows supports a thriving natural environment; in fact, an entire natural eco-system has been shaped by the snow itself.
There is not one but two National Parks in the area: Joshin’etsu Kogen National Park and Myoko-Togakushi Renzan National Park. From abundant river ways and mountain ranges, dormant volcanoes, and natural hot springs to lakes and marshes, in the Shin’etsu Shizenkyo Nature Park, you can really get in touch with nature.
Folk knowledge and traditional culture have been passed down through the centuries, and are flourishing in the Shin’etsu Shizenkyo Nature Park. Away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and the other modern metropolises, you will get a taste of the authentic “deep Japan”.
The samurai may be long gone, but the true culture and people of Japan continue to live and breathe here.
Iiyama Station serves as a gateway, providing convenient access to the huge natural expanse of the Shin’etsu Shizenkyo Nature Park. Now you can reach the beautiful seasonal scenery, pure water and clean air, freshly harvested produce, fruit, and other agricultural products more easily and comfortably than ever before.