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A road trip through the clouds

Drive from Tokyo to Nagano through the breathtaking Central Alps, where every rest stop and bend along the way boasts incredible mountain vistas. Stop by highland resorts at Lake Shirakaba and Kirigamine Kogen before ending at the mountaintop hot spring resort of Ougatou Hotel.

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Tokyo

You can pick up a rental car from many places in Tokyo, from city pick-up points to airports and large railway stations. However, getting around with a rental car within the centre of Tokyo can be difficult, especially with its complicated and busy streets. It would be best to rent a car away from central Tokyo where there's less traffic so you can orient yourself easier.

  • About 70 mins by car

    Dangozaka SA (Down)

    Dangozaka SA (Down)
    Dangozaka SA (Down)
    Dangozaka SA (Down)

    Like most highway Service Areas (SA) in Japan, Yamanashi Prefecture's Dangozaka SA has restrooms, wifi service, a gas station, and ATMs. Pick up some snacks or souvenirs from stalls and vending machines, or have a meal at the food court – a popular dish is Sutadon, a garlic-rich "stamina bowl" – to freshen up for the journey ahead.

    Wondering what the ‘down’ in the name means? In Japan's culture, the concept of the direction of travel on the road is either up or down. If you are travelling out of the city, then you are going ’down’ while travelling into the city is going ’up’. Many SAs have ‘up’ or ‘down’ in their name to indicate which direction you can access it from. No two SAs are the same so do make sure to check which road and direction your destination is on.

    Information
    Address 710 Onokubo, Notajiri, Uenohara City, Yamanashi Prefecture, 409-0125
    Opening Hours 24 hours
  • About 70 mins by car

    Yatsugatake PA (Down)

    Yatsugatake PA (Down)
    Yatsugatake PA (Down)
    Yatsugatake PA (Down)

    Unlike most Parking Areas (PA) which usually have just restrooms and vending machines, Yatsugatake PA houses a souvenir store where you can get your hands on milk, cheese, and yoghurt from Kiyosato Highland. If you didn't have time for food earlier, you can now fill your stomach with snacks or a simple meal at the cafe/bakery overlooking the magnificent Yatsugatake Mountains.

    Information
    Address 6811-155 Oobatta, Nagasaka Town, Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture, 408-0034
    Opening Hours 24 hours
  • About 30 mins by car

    Yatsugatake Farm

    Yatsugatake Farm
    Yatsugatake Farm
    Yatsugatake Farm

    This agricultural school farm takes pride in its eco-friendly products, from fresh produce to dairy products like their signature ice cream made with milk from resident cows (you can see them grazing right here too). You can sample them at the farm, or bring some products home as omiyage (souvenirs). Enjoy the cool weather, fresh air, and expansive views of the Yatsugatake Mountains that change with the season.

    Information
    Address 17217-118 Hara Village, Suwa District, Nagano Prefecture 391-0113
    Opening Hours 9:00-17:00
  • About 30 mins by car

    Venus Line - Lake Shirakaba

    Venus Line - Lake Shirakaba
    Venus Line - Lake Shirakaba
    Venus Line - Lake Shirakaba

    Venus Line is a scenic, 76km-long road that connects Chino City and the Utsukushigahara Highlands, passing fantastic lakes and wetlands surrounded by beautiful mountain sights. Located halfway along the Venus Line, Lake Shirakaba is a highland lake resort area that bursts with colourful flowers in spring and summer. Try activities like stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, and horse-riding, or explore attractions like the Tateshina Teddy Bear Museum and the Ikenotaira Family Land theme park.

  • About 15 mins by car

    Venus line - Kirigamine Kogen

    Venus line - Kirigamine Kogen
    Venus line - Kirigamine Kogen
    Venus line - Kirigamine Kogen

    Further down the Venus Line is Kirigamine Kogen, one of Nagano's high-altitude plateaus which turns into a ski resort in winter. Head over to the Kirigamine Fuji observation deck to get a gorgeous view of Mt Fuji as its name suggests.

    At the terminus of the Venus Line is Utsukushigahara Highlands, a tranquil wildflower-filled meadow with its landmark Utsukushinotou, an old bell tower once used by those lost in the fog. You may even run into grazing cows while accessing it on foot. Not to be missed as well is the Open-Air Museum with its 400 classical and modern sculptures set in this beautiful landscape.

  • About 10 mins by car

    Ougatou Hotel

    Ougatou Hotel
    Ougatou Hotel
    Ougatou Hotel

    Situated high up in the Utsukushigahara mountains, this "hotel in the clouds" offers free activities like stargazing, snow car tours, and walking tours depending on the season. Enjoy breathtaking sunrises or sunsets from the open-air hot spring baths that boast majestic mountain views.
    Official website

    Information
    Address 8964 Iriyamabe, Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture 390-0222

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