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5 must-eat local specialties when you visit skiing hot spot Nagano Prefecture!

# Dining
September 23, 2020
Nagano Prefecture is home to many of Japan’s most well-known slopes, from Karuizawa to Hakuba, Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, and more. Many of the courses in these areas have been used for the Olympic Games as well, making Nagano a true skiing hot spot. Here we will be introducing you to the 5 local specialties you’ll definitely want to eat when you visit Nagano. The dishes we’ll be introducing you to today are their most famous local specialties - ones that the locals are very familiar with. Be sure to use this article as a reference if you want to go around the local food spots in between your skiing experiences.

Shinshu soba, with its refined aroma and taste

Shinshu soba

The soba in Shinshu, an area famous for its soba production, has long been known for its extraordinary quality with regards to everything from its texture to its flavor and aroma. It also has quite a deep history, since the Shinshu area has long been home to land suited to the cultivation of soba (buckwheat). The process of making it is divided into multiple processes, from preparation to completion, and only soba that meets the standards in terms of both ingredients and production method are allowed to be called Shinshu soba.

This dish is so popular that there isn’t a single local who hasn’t heard of it. And so if you head down into the cities, you’ll find tons of long-standing soba shops. There are also many regional variations of the Shinshu soba - for instance the Togakushi soba, which you can only get in the Togakushi area of Nagano City. So it’s fun to go around the different areas tasting the different types. We hope you try this traditional and authentic soba in one of Japan’s most famous soba production areas.

Oyaki - a casual snack with a long history

Oyaki

Oyaki is a kind of dumpling made by stir-frying local vegetables and meats and wrapping it with a dough made with flour, after which it is roasted. People like it for its simple miso- and soy sauce-based flavors. This is a traditional food item enjoyed since the olden days in the Shinshu area, where people tended to cook more with flour instead of rice.

The oyaki has gone through many changes over its long history. The seasoning and cooking methods can be very different depending on who makes it, meaning you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of flavors in a variety of regions. It can also be eaten in many ways, whether as a snack for when you’re just a little bit hungry, as a meal for your whole family, or even as something to snack on while you drink some sake.

There are different ways to cook it as well, from frying to steaming to roasting. It’s easy to get and eat, which makes it popular amongst tourists as well. Why not give it a try when you see it out in the city?

Nozawana - a “supporting actor” that elevates the flavor of the main ingredients

Nozawana

Nozawana is a kind of vegetable that has long been harvested around the Nozawa Onsen area. At Nozawa Onsen, where there is always high-temperature water bubbling from the springs, there is a communal vegetable-washing area where you can watch people washing a wide variety of vegetables - including nozawana - through high-temperature sterilization. Now, nozawana has come to be known as a local staple food item, and is often offered in pickled form. The pickled nozawana, which has sealed in all the umami flavor of the vegetable, goes amazingly well with rice. It has a staple, sort of supporting actor role at the meals of many a local.

Shinshu apples

Though Aomori is the prefecture known for its apples, Nagano Prefecture boasts Shinshu apples - an incredibly famous, high-end brand of apples. The Nagano area, which is suited for apple production, is home to many apple orchards that have been around for over a century. There are many Shinshu apples on the market, which has made it famous as a fruit you can get and enjoy quite easily.

Apple dessert

You can eat it on its own, of course, but another way to eat it is to enjoy some desserts that make liberal use of these very sweet apples.

Shinshu beef - packed with tons of meaty umami flavor

Grilled Shinshu beef

Shinshu beef from cows that were raised on expansive Shinshu land Shinshu beef is said to have one of the strongest flavors of Japan’s many types of brand beef, since the feed for the cows contains a lot of byproducts from fresh Shinshu vegetables, soy beans, and fruits. To the point where they even have a catchphrase, “Shinshu beef, raised on apples.” There are tons of different ways to eat it, from charcoal-grilling to barbecuing to using it in hot pot dishes. But if you want to taste the true umami flavor of the meat, we recommend you go simple on the seasoning, and use only salt when you cook it.

A great food spot where you can enjoy many traditional dishes

Tourists eating oyaki

Nagano Prefecture is home not only to amazing ski resorts and onsen, but also to many traditional dishes that are born of the area’s distinct land conditions and weather patterns. If you want to go around a lot of these food spots, we recommend you head downtown instead of just staying within the ski area. You’ll be able to get your fill of some of the most well-known stores in this area!

Pricing information and schedule may not be up to date and are subject to change without notice. Please check before your trip.

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