Olympic Venues in Nagano City
As host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano was home to several sporting venues – all of which can still be visited – used for different events and sports during the Games.
The Olympic Stadium
The XVIII Olympic Winter Games were opened by Emperor Akihito on February 7th 1998 at the Olympic Stadium. Athletes from the 72 participating countries paraded in the stadium before the torch was lit. Approximately 60,000 people were in attendance for the opening ceremony and closing ceremony, held on February 22nd.
The stadium remains today, now called the Minami Nagano Sports Park, located approximately 20-minutes drive to the south of Nagano Station.
The distinctive M-Wave Olympic Memorial Arena hosted speed skating during the Olympics and has since then 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 – and hosts a multitude of events through the year including the International Skating Union (ISU) Speed Skating World Cup in late 2019.
M-Wave is located approximately 5km from Nagano Station and can be reached using the Nagaden local bus bound from Suzaka and Yashima, which operates from Bus Stop No.21 outside the station’s East Exit. The journey takes approximately 15 minutes. The museum and gift shop is open daily from 10:00 to 17:00 and admission is free.
White Ring Arena
During the Olympics, the White Ring Arena hosted figure skating and short track speed skating. Located around 15-minutes drive to the south of Nagano Station, the venue remains in use as an ice-skating rink.
Since the Nagano Olympics, the White Ring has played host to other international sporting events including the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) Word Cup events in 1999, 2003 and 2011, the FIVB World Championships in 2006, and FIVB Men’s World Cup in 2019.
The simply named ‘Big Hat’ 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 Aqua Wing Arena
Another venue used for ice hockey games in 1998, the Aqua Wing Arena is now home to water sports facilities. It’s around a 15-minute drive from Nagano Station (top image)
Hotel Kokusai 21
During the Nagano Olympics, Hotel Kokusai 21 in Nagano City acted as headquarters for the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Located approximately 15-minutes walk from Nagano Station and 10 minutes from the city’s famous Zenko-ji Temple, Kokusai 21 was chosen due to its central location, quality of service, in-house facilities including multiple restaurants and English-speaking staff.
As headquarters of the IOC during the 1998 Olympics, Kokusai 21 established a reputation as Nagano City’s most international hotel – a reputation it holds to this day as it continually hosts participants of large events including teams competing in the FIVB Men’s World Cup and ISU Speed Skating World Cup in 2019.
For information regarding ski resorts that hosted events, please refer to our ‘Ski Resorts of the 1998 Winter Olympics’ page.
JAPAN SKI RESORTS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Did you know that Nagano is home to more than 80 ski resorts? Needless to say, when you choose Nagano for your winter getaway you are spoiled for choice! Our ‘Japan Ski Resorts’ page has everything you need to know to start planning your ski and snowboard adventure including: LATEST NEWS & DEALS, THE BEST RESORTS IN NAGANO & JAPAN, FAQs and of course OUR SKI PACKAGES, ACCOMMODATION, TRANSPORT & TOURS.