Madarao, Tangram & Iiyama Travel Guide
Madarao Kogen Mountain Resort
Madarao Kogen & Tangram Resorts in Iiyama City and the surrounding areas area are located deep within the heart of the Japan Alps at the northernmost part of Nagano Prefecture, making it an excellent retreat during any of the four seasons. Here you can experience “ancient” Japan by visiting the many remaining temples or just by viewing its traditional landscapes that are spread across the region. Iiyama City is a former castle town within the Okushinano region of Nagano with many old Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples still standing side by side. The Chikuma River (the longest river in Japan) runs through the centre of the area and becomes known as the Shinano River when it passes into Niigata Prefecture. A virgin beech forest covers 400ha of Mt. Nabekura, providing great opportunities for hiking and sightseeing. The area prides itself on ‘green tourism’ and is known as ‘Japan’s hometown’
Tangram Ski Circus Live Web Cam
Madarao-Kogen Live Web Cam
There are a number of high quality ski resorts in the region. These include Madarao Sympathique, Madarao Kogen, Tangram Ski Circus, Togari Onsen, Shinanodaira, Iiyama Kokusai and Hokuryuko. Please refer to our ski and snowboard page for further information. You can check out current conditions at Tangram Ski Circus and Madarao Kogen via our live web cams (above). Numerous bargain packages (lift tickets, discount coupons and ski packages can be found – particularly mid-week or in low season. Check at one of the local tourist offices for packages and coupons before heading up the mountain.
While skiing don’t forget to visit the ski-jump toilet in Madarao-Kogen! The attention-grabbing toilets, which include a pair of skis printed on the floor, are designed to provide target customers an extra thrill as they take care of personal ablutions.
Georgia Max Coffee chose to redesign the toilets of a number of key ski resorts in Japan. The cubicles were fully wrapped on all sides, so that the person caught short would have a ski jumper’s view when they were sitting on the loo. The person could look down at their skis (simply printed on the floor of the cubicle) and see the steep ski jump slope ahead of them. The toilet paper holder carried the only brand messaging in the cubicle, reading: “Seriously kick-ass intensely sweet for the real coffee super zinging unstoppable Max! Taste-explosion!”
Many of the good hotels in the area have onsen (hot springs) plus there are several fine public onsen. These include Yutaki Onsen on Route 117, Hokuryu Onsen in Iiyama City (with fabulous views from the outdoor hot spring (rotemburo) of the five peaks of the Hokushin region and the Sekita mountain range), Togari Onsen with two well known rotenburo (outside pools) and Madarao Kogen Onsen where one can enjoy a relaxing mountain onsen located more than 1000 metres above sea level. Toyoda-mura Onsen Koen Momiji-so (phone 0269-38-3030) situated between Kijimadaira and Madarao is open 10:00 – 20:00 (closed Wednesdays). Adults are ¥500 and children ¥350. Local town onsen are also available and quite inexpensive but usually consist of only one smallish bath. Look for the this symbol (right) on maps and signs when seeking onsen.
Check this onsen page for further details
Local Products: There are a number of unique products available. Iiyama’s Buddhist altars are famous for their craftsmanship and for the amount produced in one city plus the art of making Japanese washi (paper), Uchiyama tesuki washi, has a local history of over 400 years.
Tomikura Soba (Tomikura Buckwheat Noodles): The secret to the local Tomikura soba is usage of wild burdock leaves, giving it a unique firmness plus a rich, dark flavor and color. Adventurous visitors MIGHT be able to find the soba restaurants which are unmarked with no signs or advertisements – local establishments are usually well-known among soba fanatics. But you’ll likely need to make a reservation because the noodles are handmade each day and they boil them as they are ordered. Check out some pictures here.
Local Produce: For just a fraction of the price you would pay in Tokyo or Osaka, the local area has numerous roadside stalls and farmers’ markets where you can buy great local produce. The tomatoes and peaches are renowned and the region grows blueberries, apples, pears, corn, edamame (green soybeans) and dozens of other fruits and vegetables. You will also discover all sorts of local specialities such as Scotch thistle preserve, walnut jam and aloe vera honey.
Mid- February: Iiyama Snow Festival
Mid April: Cherry Blossom Festival in Iiyama and Nakano
Early July: Iiyama Gion Festival
*August 5th: Iiyama Dontokoi
*August 14th: Iiyama Fireworks Festival
*August 16th: Madarao Kogen Fireworks – 8.00pm
*Approximate dates and times only. Please double-check with the local tourist centre.
Newport Jazz Festival in Madarao – This festival was a three day festival held every summer between 1982-2005 on the beautiful Madarao plateau. It Included workshops and jam sessions as well as performances by well known local and international performers. Notable artists who have performed at the festival include: Dizzy Gillespie quartet, Spyro Gyra, Masahiko Sato, Stuff, Tania Maria, Toshiyuki Honda, Terumasa Hino, B. B. King, Gary Burton, Dave Brubeck, Woody Herman, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Ritenour, Wayne Shorter, Jackie McLean, Celia Cruz, Sérgio Mendes, Jonathan Butler, Gil Evans, Charmaine Neville, Larry Goldings, Regina Carter, Monday Michiru, Michael Brecker, Dianne Reeves, Ray Barretto, Angélique Kidjo, PE’Z, and many more. It is hoped that the festival may be revived after the arrival of the new Hokiriku Shinkansen stop in Madarao.
During Golden Week (the beginning of May), the Na-no-hana (Canola Blossom) festival is held in Iiyama. The Na-no-hana park overlooks the river and the plain and is a great spot for some random flower viewing and a picnic!
The Lake Nojiri Triathlon is an increasingly popular event for both contestants and spectators. It held every year around the middle of July. Lake Nojiri Triathlon entry forms can be found here (in Japanese). Competitors came from all over Japan as well as overseas.
Hiking: From Hokuryuko ski area there are several hiking trails that link up to eventually lead to the Inner Shrine of the Kosuge Shrine. It’s a fairly steep slog up hill for forty minutes but the shrine is very pretty and the views back to the plain are great. There is also a freshwater spring next to the shrine to fill your water bottle up at! Lake Hokuryuko is also often used for kayaking.
The Madarao Plateau trekking route, which was selected as one of the “Best 100 walking routes” by the Yomiuri Newspaper, extends for around fifty kilometres in total at an altitude of around 1,000 metres. Other various courses are available to suit all needs, such as the Madarao nature trek as well as wetland and beech forest courses.
Cherry Blossom Viewing: The ruins of Iiyama Castle built by the orders of feudal lord Uesugi Kenshin is one of the very best sakura locations in the region during the Iiyama Joshi Sakura Festival. About 400 someiyoshino blossoms cover the entire mountain in pink, and the cherry blossoms and narcissus blooming during the same season are equally gorgeous. From the castle ruins you can have a grand view of the Chikuma River flowing down along with with the mountainscape of Shiga-Kogen with snow left on its peak.
Fishing: Lake Nozomi is only 5-10 minutes by car from Madarao. It is regarded as a ‘hidden spot’ of bass fishing – but getting more and more popular with each season. Other activities are also available.
Madarao Nature School: Throughout the year one can experience a number of nature-related activities, such as cascade climbing, rock climbing, furniture crafting with driftwood, silver craft, and braid making. Find one that fits your purpose.
Madarao Sports Passport: From 1st July until 30th September visitors can experience any of 20 different activities for only 4,500 yen. These include water skiing, rafting, paragliding, horse back riding, etc., as well as water and highland sports at Lake Nojiri, Lake Kibo and the Chikuma River. See the official Madarao site for more details and map.
In nearby Shinanomachi lies the home of the revered Japanese poet, Issa.
Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City is also a popular tourist spot. Catch the Dentetsu line train to Gondo or Zenkoji stations and then walk about 10 minutes.
During late summer, areas of Kurohime Plateau (kurohime kogen) become covered in the new blooms of cosmos flowers – more than a million blooms in every colour of the rainbow. In early summer lavender grows all over an area on the south face of Mount Kurohime.
Need a place to stay? Check out these establishments below and more at our Madarao & Tangram accommodation guide plus sightseeing map
|Check out the local Madarao Kogen & Tangram Ski Resort Guides!|
|Madarao Elm Pension is a hospitable and comfortable hotel with a female owner. Twenty minutes by car from the Toyota-Iiyama interchange on the Joshin-Estsu Expressway Map to Madarao Elm Pension|
|Beautiful sunrise and cloud views can be had from your room window at Mountain Inn Maroudo in the early morning. The hosts will collect guests from the JR Iiyama Station. Map to Mountain Inn Maroudo|
|Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travelers have to say about hotels in Madarao, Tangram & Iiyama|
|Pension Ringo Jam in Madarao Kogen has been introduced on Japanese TV and in magazines for its hospitality, original cooking and unique facilities. See more info on this Madarao pension or book Pension Ringo Jam in Madarao Kogen now.|
|Guests at Pension Pure can enjoy nice meals and great views. Thirty minutes by bus from JR Iiyama Station. See map to Pension Pure, Iiyama|
|Madarao Kogen Hotel is situated at the bottom of the Madarao Kogen Ski Lifts and has a beautiful view of the Madarao Plateau and mountains (see map).|
|The location of Tob’s House Madarao Pension is quite good with restaurants and convenience store in close proximity and only a ten minute walk to the ski lifts at Madarao Kogen. See more info on this Madarao pension or Book Tob’s House now!|
Madarao, Iiyama and Tangram are located north-west of Tokyo and 30-60 minutes from Nagano City
Iiyama: Take a shinkansen from Tokyo/Ueno or highway bus from Ikebukero (Tokyo) to Nagano then a JR train to Iiyama
Madarao: In winter there is a highway bus from Nagano station two times a day and takes about 70 minutes. Alternatively take a bus to Madarao from Iiyama station (approximately thirty minutes)
Direct bus to Madarao from Narita Airport: Japan Ski Bus now runs a direct shuttle from Tokyo Narita Airport to Madarao ski areas, as well as Hakuba, Nozawa Onsen and Shiga Kogen. One way is 8,500 yen and return 15,000 yen. See the Japan Ski Bus site for more details and online bookings.
Tangram Ski Circus: Take the shuttle bus from Nagano or Kurohime stations
There is a Nozawa Onsen – Togari Onsen – Madarao Kogen shuttle operating each winter
Nagano Ski Resort Shuttle & Airport Transfer
Private Limousine Ichibeh is pleased to offer a Madarao ski resort shuttle for foreign guests visiting Japan. Ichibeh offers a Nagano airport transfer to/from Narita, Haneda and Nagoya Airports as well as Nagano ski resort transfers, day trips and tours. Ichibeh is a great option for medium to large groups as you are chartering the vehicle for your own personal use.
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