As may if not most visitors heading to the region know, Nagano was the host venue of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. With its tall mountains, long snow season, and proximity to Tokyo, Nagano was thought to be the perfect scene for the XVIII (18th) Winter Olympic Games which took place at ski resorts and venues from the region from February 7th to 22nd 1998.
Sporting events were held at ski resorts spread throughout the prefecture along with a number of venues in Nagano City itself. For a brief history of the Games and a full list of resorts and venues chosen to host events – including those that are still operating today – please refer to our ‘Discover the Spirit of the 1998 Olympics’ page.
In this blog, we will briefly introduce the facilities and venues used in Nagano City, starting with:
The Nagano Olympic Stadium. Now called the ‘Minami Nagano Sports Park’ this venue was the site for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics.
Today, it is also the finishing point for the annual Nagano Marathon. The full name for the marathon is the Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon and is, as the name suggests, in honor of the Olympics. The route goes past four of Olympic venues before concluding at the Nagano Olympic Stadium.
The Aqua Wing Arena (pictured above), hosted ice hockey games during the Olympics. Today, the area houses waters sports facilities and is located approximately 15-minutes drive from Nagano Station.
The simply named Big Hat (pictured above) hosted ice hockey during the Olympics and remains one of the city’s busiest large venues today, regularly serving as a venue for music performances and large meetings. Relatively close to Nagano Station, Big Hat can be reached on foot in around 25 to 30 minutes.
The distinctive M-Wave (pictured above) hosted speed skating during the Olympics and has since their hosted the World Figure Skating Championships and various international speed skating events. Following the conclusion of the Olympics, M-Wave also hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Paralympic Games. The multi-purpose area remains in use today, home to the Nagano Olympic Museum and ice-skating rink in winter. For further details, please refer to our ‘Olympic Venues in Nagano City’ page.
Finally, White Ring Arena (pictured above) was the place for figure skating and short track speed skating. The venue is still use as an ice skating rink and sometimes as an event venue as well.
Further information can be found through our ‘Discover the Spirit of the 1998 Olympics’ page.
How to get to these Olympic venues?
The Olympic sport venues are a little bit difficult to access and might require you to go there by taxi if you want to see them. To get to either venue on foot can take anywhere between 30 to 90 minutes so employing a taxi or asking your hotel for a lift would probably work best!
Hotel Kokusai 21
For visitors to Nagano City, we recommend staying at Kokusai 21 Hotel which acted as headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The hotel was selected due to its central location, quality of service, professional staff, and range of cuisine available at its restaurants including Japanese, Chinese, French, Italian, and more.
Kokusai 21 Hotel is a short walk from Nagano Station and the city’s most famous cultural site, Zenkoji Temple. For those of you who really want to live the Olympic spirit – and literally push yourself to the Olympic edge! – why not challenge yourself on the same courses that the athletes trained and competed on in 1998 at the following resorts.