The Nagano Lifestyle: Stats, Facts & Why You Should

The Nagano Lifestyle: Stats, Facts & Why You Should


Lying in the centre of Honshu, Japan’s largest island, Nagano is the country’s fourth largest prefecture. Completely landlocked, Nagano is known for its mountains, natural landscapes, abundant farmlands, wildlife and of course, its many ski resorts, the longevity of its people and its overall liveability.


Regularly cited as one of Japan’s most liveable regions, Nagano ranks among the most popular prefectures for Japanese and foreign residents to relocate to, while attracting lots of interest from international buyers seeking properties in and around its many ski resorts.


Host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano is home to over 80 independent ski resorts, several of which hosted events during the ’98 Games along with venues and arenas in Nagano City. Today, the region attracts visitors from all over world each winter to enjoy some of Japan’s best skiing and snowboarding at popular resorts including Shiga Kogen, Hakuba Valley and Nozawa Onsen (just to name a few).


The higher altitude of the region blesses it with a cooler climate than the coastal cities of Tokyo and Osaka, with a notably less humid and more pleasant summer, beautiful spring and autumn, and of course, a long, fun winter. Boasting the majority of Japan’s tallest mountains, spring to autumn offer some of the country’s best hiking, mountaineering and green season pursuits, while the snowmelt cascades down alpine rivers and feeds the abundant farmlands below.


Producing some of Japan’s best fruit, vegetables and rice, Nagano retains a largely traditional and healthy diet which contributes to its residents enjoying Japan’s longest life expectancy. When considered in combination with its expansive open spaces, small liveable cities, and low population density, it’s no surprise that so many Japanese, foreign residents and international visitors fall in love with the Nagano lifestyle.



Nagano Prefecture is the centre Honshu, surrounded by the prefectures of Niigata, Gunma, Yamanashi, Shizouka, Aichi, Gifu, Ishikawa and Toyama. While it is the 4th largest prefecture in terms of size, Nagano ranks only 16th in terms of population and 10th lowest in terms of population density out of Japan’s 47 prefectures. With a great standard of living and agreeable climate, Nagano is considered one of Japan’s most attractive regions to visit, live, work and invest given its appealing lifestyle, low cost of living, abundant natural landscapes and proximity to major cities including Tokyo and Nagoya.

Area: 13,561.56km² – 4th largest prefecture in Japan

Population: 2,052,493 (as of June 2019) – 16th largest pop. in Japan

Pop.Density: 150 people per km² – 10th lowest in Japan

Life Expectancy: 84.72 – 1st / highest life expectancy in Japan (women 87.18 years / 1st in Japan & men 80.88 years / 2nd in Japan)

Employment: Nagano has the 2nd highest employemnt rate in Japan including the 2nd highest employment rate for women, the highest rate of employment for residents aged 65 years and above, and the highest number of farmers

Capital: Nagano City / 834.81km² / 368,226 people (as of 2020)

Other Major Cities: Matsumoto / 978.47 km² / 239,680 people (as of 2020)

Landscape: forested area = 1,031,536 hectares or approx. 80% of land area / 3rd in Japan with 29 of Japan’s ‘100 Famous Mountains’ in Nagano / 1st in Japan

National Parks: 4 = 2nd highest number of any prefecture in Japan with approx. 21% of total land area classifed as a national park

Highest Point: Mount Okuhotaka = 3190m / 3rd highest peak in Japan. Nagano boasts 12 of Japan’s 22 peaks over 3000m and 20 of Japan’s 33 peaks over 2500 metres

Ski Resorts: 85 / 1st in Japan – host of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, Nagano is home to some of Asia’s best snow resorts including the Hakuba Valley, Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen and Madarao with the resorts of Myoko Kogen and Yuzawa also within easy reach

Onsen/Hot Springs: 210 / 2nd highest number of onsen in Japan & 1st for number of public onsen

Museums & Galleries: 345 / 1st of any prefecture in Japan

Food: 1st for production for multiple types of vegetables and mushrooms, 2nd for grapes, 2nd for soba/buckwheat, 4th for tsukemono/pickled food and 1st for miso/fermened soybean in Japan

Drink: 2nd largest producer of sake and 2nd largest producer of wine in Japan

Diet: 1st in Japan for vegetable intake – residents of Nagano consume more vegetables per person than any prefecture in Japan

Sustainability: 1st in Japan for least garbage generated per person

Major Train Lines: Hokuriku Shinkansen – stops at Karuizawa, Sakudaira, Ueda, Nagano & Iiyama / Limited Express Azusa – stops at Matsumoto / Limited Express Shinano – stops at Nagano & Matsumoto

*most statistics cited above are taken from the ‘Shiawase Shinshu’ website.



One of the few non-urban regions in Japan to enjoy an international profile, Nagano welcomes people from all over the world to enjoy its abundant nature and traditional way of life. The Nagano lifestyle places a premium on a health work-life balance, offering a slower pace of life and a strong connection to nature. Blessed with pristine natural landscapes, small, liveable cities and abundant farmlands, the residents of Nagano enjoy Japan’s longest life expectancy and one of the highest qualities of life. Whether you are looking for seasonal work, to relocate permanently, to start a business or to invest in property, Nagano is ideally-placed for healthier, better way of life.



Boasting Japan’s longest life expectancy and regularly topping the tables of prefectures that Japanese and foreign residents most want to relocate to, there’s lots of reasons to choose Nagano. Let us tempt you with our ‘The Nagano Lifestyle: 10 Big Reasons to Choose Nagano’ page.



Nagano Prefecture boasts the second highest rate of employment of any region of Japan, including the second highest rate of employment for women. For foreign residents living in Japan, and those abroad looking to work here, Nagano offers a variety of jobs including seasonal work in the ski resorts, all-year-round work in the tourism and service industry, self-employment opportunities and other surprising options. For current listings, see our ‘The Nagano Lifestyle: Jobs & Employment in Nagano’ page.



Looking for seasonal work, to relocate or invest in Nagano? Choosing where to look for employment, a home or investment opportunity takes a little consideration. Our ‘The Nagano Lifestyle: City, Town, Village or Resort?’ page breakdowns four broad types of areas you will find here, what to expect and the types of employment and properties on offer.



As host of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, it comes as no suprise that Nagano boasts many outstanding ski resorts. Running from late-November and as late as May, the region’s long winter attracts skiers and snowboarders from all over the world, who descend upon Nagano each year to enjoy its fantastic snow, welcoming atmosphere and all the trimmings that make it so appealing. Our ‘Nagano Ski Resorts’ page is a great place to start when deciding which resort suits your interests.


The first step on many peoples journey to living or buying property in Nagano, is that initial enticing stay in the region. Whether you live in Japan or wanting to visit from abroad, a ‘staycation’ or ‘workcation’ is a great way to start your love affair with Nagano. Our ‘The Nagano Lifestyle: ‘Staycation’ or ‘Workcation’ – The New Long-Stay Travel Trend’ page introduces options for a working visit to the region.



Real estate and properties vary greatly in price, condition and availability across Nagano’s many resorts depending on where you are looking – from high-end/luxury chalets and homes in resorts including the Hakuba Valley and Karuizawa to traditional ‘kominka’ (farmhouses) and old guestshouses and businesses in need of revitalisation, dotted through some of the less well-known resorts and areas. Our ‘The Nagano Lifestyle: Real Estate & Property in Japan’s Ski Resorts’ page provides an overview of some of the most popular, up-and-coming, and hidden gems when looking to buy in the region.