Asia Pacific

Nagano, Japan

A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Places to Run in Nagano Prefecture

Trevor Dobson, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Nagano is one of Japan’s core cities and the capital of the Nagano prefecture. It’s located in central inland Japan, at the confluence of the Chikuma and Sai rivers, and surrounded by mountains. Internationally, Nagano is known as the host city of the 1998 Olympic Games, but the city is nationally renowned for the Zenkō-ji Buddhist temple, nearby ski resorts, and the local snow monkeys that bathe in hot springs. There’s some decent running in Nagano, mainly in its small parks and a couple of river paths and multi-use trails. But it’s not overall a great running city.

The best places to run in Nagano are Joyama Park, Olympic Stadium, and the Susobana River. For a long run, the best bet is the Ueda Chikuma Nagano Bicycle Way, which starts from Nagano City Park. For a destination run, enjoy the 16 km loop around Lake Suwa, located about 90 km south of Nagano — a quick 1 hour train ride.

Nagano has a solid public transportation system. The best way to arrive from Tokyo is the Hokuriku Shinkansen train to Nagano Station. From here, most visitors hop on the local bus system or hire a taxi. Note that some of our running routes outside the city center may require a rental car or a long taxi ride.

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Destination Run: Lake Suwa Loop

Nagano, Japan

The loop around Lake Suwa is a worth-it destination run. A beautiful gravel path loops around the lake for 16 km, through cherry blossoms and parkland, with views of the water and surrounding mountains. It's 90 km south of Nagano, and a quick 1-hour train ride.
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Susobana River

Nagano, Japan

A good opportunity for a mainly off-road run on the western edge of Nagano. Nice paths around Saigawa Kasenjiki Park, and then a multi-use path along the Susbana river. Up to 8 km out and back.
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Destination Run: Lake Suwa Loop

Nagano, Japan

The loop around Lake Suwa is a worth-it destination run. A beautiful gravel path loops around the lake for 16 km, through cherry blossoms and parkland, with views of the water and surrounding mountains. It's 90 km south of Nagano, and a quick 1-hour train ride.
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Nahano has hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. In summer, temps climb to the 28-30C range (mid-high 80sF), with high humidity. Winters are cool, with daytime temperatures just above freezing (3C), and lows in the -5C (23F) range. The city averages some 100 inches (250 cm) of snow. In summer, there can be downpours and thunderstorms. In spring, there are gorgeous cherry blossoms.

GoNagano.net is the main tourism site for the Nagano prefecture. While most hotels are located near Zenkō-ji and the city center, you can find ski and vacation resorts in the more rural areas.

Some of the running stores near Nagano city include Sports Depot, Super Sports, and outdoor gear outfitters like Burton and Patagonia.

While you can find occasional running events throughout Nagano, the top race is the Nagano Marathon.