Top 10 things to do in Green Season

1. Hike to a sacred mountain shrine with a real Yamabushi priest

"Kosuge no Sato" is a small mountain village in the Mizuho district of Iiyama city. The landscape of Kosuge, shaped by the scenery, beliefs, and culture of ancient Japan, has been quietly protected by the people of the village, despite being damaged during the samurai wars over Kawanakajima many times. It has a history of prospering as one of the three major Shugendo religious sites in Northern Nagano, along with Mt. Togakushi and Mt.Iizuna. At its peak, there were 37 monasteries with more than 300 monks and trainees. Now, the cultural significance of this site has been recognized and the entire village has been designated as a National Culturally Designated Property. Cleanse your mind, body and soul by experiencing Shugendo, guided by the sole remaining Yamabushi who is still active at the inner shrine of Kosuge Shrine. MTN Holidays can provide an experienced translator to help you get the most out of this uniquely Japanese mountain adventure.

2. Experience the thrill of downhill mountain biking

The slopes of Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort are also open in the summer for you to experience the thrill of downhill mountain biking! The courses have a total length of about 10 km, starting from an altitude of 1470 m. A new course has just been added using the new Nagasaka gondola, and the courses are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, so anyone can try it. Beginner lessons and private lessons are also available, so even those who are new to downhill can get riding with confidence!


3. Cycle through Stunning Satoyama Scenery

Iiyama City is a truly beautiful area with abundant nature and traditional rural scenery, so much so that it has been sung about in the famous Japanese folk song "Furusato". Satoyama refers to a somewhat nostalgic image of Japan's “hometown” and the traditional mountain lifestyle of small farmers. You can experience this first-hand while enjoying the beautiful scenery of each season. In addition, there are still many temples, shrines, and historical sights in the city, often called "Little Kyoto in Snow Country." There are many Japanese and Western confectionery shops that are unique to the castle town, with many delicious sweets to try!

The Shinetsu Shizenkyo Activity Center in Iiyama Station has a wide variety of rental gear such as, electric-motor assisted "E-Bikes", full-scale road bikes, cross bikes, mountain bikes, and city cycles. There is a bicycle to suit everyone here! Staff can advise on various routes to suit your age, physical fitness, and travel plans, or you can book a guided tour right from the door of your MTN holidays accommodation.

4. Prepare lunch with a farmer’s family

Higurashi Farm is a family-run farm in the famously snowy Nabekura Highlands. When you arrive you’ll be given a farm tour, and then you can help with picking the vegetables for the dishes you will eat for lunch! It doesn’t get any fresher than this! The menu changes according to the seasonally available vegetables but you could be making hamburgers, pizzas, or even soups and salads. Working in the cool, fresh mountain air is a great way to work up an appetite, and you can help prepare the food, right there in open fields, while admiring the magnificent mountain scenery. Afterwards enjoy a healing herb tea made from fresh herbs grown on the farm, and relax and forget your busy schedule. Near the fields, there is a place to play in the cool river, and a tent is provided for shelter. Reservations are required. Https://

5. Sample kaiseki cuisine

Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course meal, prepared with great refinement and attention to detail. Hatano is a kaiseki restaurant renovated from a 150-year old farmhouse. The owner-chef goes daily to collect the freshest of edible wild plants, seasonal local vegetables, and river fish, so that guests can enjoy the blessings of the surrounding mountains. The carefully selected dishes, that can only be enjoyed here, are like art. Luxuriate in this relaxing Japanese space, while being surprised and impressed with the delights on the table.

6. See baby monkeys playing

Everyone in the world must have seen the delightful pictures of these monkeys taking a hot spring bath in winter! Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park in Yamanouchi Town provides a safe haven for these “Snow Monkeys” not only in winter, but throughout the seasons. Spring is the best time for seeing newborn baby monkeys with their big, soulful eyes and soft fluffy fur snuggled up to their mothers. And summer is the season for raising those children! You can observe the babies gathering and playing up close, under their parents' watchful gaze. Be careful not to show off your food or plastic shopping bags as they are wild monkeys, and they will try to steal your lunch!

7. Shinrin-yoku: Reconnect with nature

In the 1980s Japanese scientists performed experiments that showed that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments, and so the medicinal effects of walking in Nature were finally recognized. Iiyama City is one of the first certified "Forest Therapy Bases'' in Japan. In the lush beech forest at Mori-no-ie, which is rich in nature, you can take a leisurely stroll while opening your five senses to the changing seasons. The time spent in the forest, which is about 100 years old, is a healing time that can only be experienced here on the plateau. Wood chips are laid on the Forest Therapy Road, so even those with leg problems, or in a wheelchair can experience the forest with peace of mind.

8. Join the locals in a traditional harvest festival

In the city of Iiyama, autumn festivals are held all over the city to pray for an abundant harvest and the safety of the family. Each neighbourhood showcases its own unique take on the traditional dances such as lion dance and naginata. The villagers call their relatives back home and tourists also visit and to see this display of liveliness once a year! The Dance of the Daitengu, which has been handed down for over 300 years in the Narazawa district, is a hugely impressive fire dance! A masked “tengu” goblin swings a 2m50cm flaming torch in a ceremony that is very intense and overwhelming!  It is one of the most powerful autumn festivals in the city, and is so popular that many photographers visit it every year. In fact, many of the autumn festivals here in Iiyama are designated as Intangible Important Cultural Properties! These traditional events have been continued and protected by the local people for centuries, and they are happy to welcome visitors.

Hike the original long trail in Japan

The Shinetsu Trail is famous as the first of Japan's long trails. In September 2021, the trail was reborn with a further 4 sections, taking it from a total length of 80 km to 110 km! The trail is so popular that many hikers visit from overseas. You can do a “through-hike'' all at once, taking around a week to 10 days, or you can come back multiple times to complete the 10 sections at your own pace. The atmosphere of the trails differs greatly between the early summer of the fresh green and the late autumn of the autumn leaves, so we recommend coming back two or three times to walk in different seasons with an English speaking MTN Holidays guide with you, who can help you to experience "satoyama" while explaining the rich nature and historical culture of Japan.

Paddle on a heart-shaped lake

Hokuryuko Lake is a mysteriously beautiful lake surrounded by mountains on three sides. The lake is heart-shaped, so it is also known as a spot for those looking for romance. There is a pleasant forest therapy trail around the shores of the lake, or how about enjoying the relaxing sounds of nature while taking a canoe ride across the serene green waters? It is a popular activity for beginners and families with one-seater, two-seater, and three-seater canoes available, so even families and couples can enjoy it. For those looking for something a little different, why not try SUP, (Stand-Up Paddleboarding)?

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