Nagano’s Only-in-Japan Touches – Los Angeles Times

Japan Alps National Park: the outdoors baths at Hirayu no Mori Inn.

by Andrew Bender

Fame is fleeting, but mountains are eternal. Or so it seems in Nagano, the mountain-ringed city in the center of Honshu, Japan’s main island.

Nagano had a brief brush with international fame when it hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics, but the city center has returned to its former self, a comfortably modern medium-size downtown spread out below the imposing Zenkoji Buddhist Temple. But the mountainous prefecture, or administrative region, encircling it seems ancient, with its Shinto shrines, hot springs and villages trapped in time.

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