Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings


Ueda Castle 上田城跡

The castle of a samurai clan that defeated the Tokugawa hordes twice

Located in the northern Nagano castle town of Ueda is stunning Ueda Castle and its associated park. Filled with history and incredible scenic views, the park and its impressive fortress are worth a visit any time of year.


  • Strolling the grounds with an oyaki dumpling in hand
  • Attending one of the castle's many vibrant seasonal events
  • Discovering the hidden water well legend says is connected to a secret tunnel under the castle grounds

How to Get There

Ueda Castle Park is a 10-minute walk from JR Ueda Station, making it an easy place to access on foot locally and by train from the neighboring city of Nagano.

From Nagano, the trip to JR Ueda Station is 12 minutes on the Hokuriku-Shinkansen or 45 minutes on the local JR Shinonoi Line. Tokyo Station to Ueda is an hour and 15 minutes on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line.

Take a trip back in time to 16th-century Japan

Ueda Castle was built in the 16th century by the leaders of the Sanada samurai clan. These tough warriors are famed for repelling the nation-building Tokugawas not once, but twice. The third time, however, they were defeated.

Following the battles, some of the castle was rebuilt in the 17th century before being dismantled at the end of feudal rule in the late 1800s. Today, Ueda Castle's original stone ramparts and reproductions of its three turrets and main gate stand tall, towering over the neighboring city.

Visit shrines and enjoy local snacks

There are two shrines in the park, and it's a peaceful spot to wander and contemplate the history that transpired in the castle's shadow. You can pick up a couple of oyaki, Japanese-style savory dumplings that are a Nagano specialty. They come with a variety of fillings like winter squash and spicy eggplant.

Meet a friendly samurai and join the samurai festival

A welcoming committee of samurai patrol the grounds, posing for photos and occasionally breaking into martial arts demonstrations. Check out the park's Ueda City Museum for samurai artifacts and other displays about the region.

In April, the park hosts the local Ueda Sanada Festival in honor of the city's famous warrior clan. Hundreds join a procession in period costumes. The entertainment includes taiko drumming and impressive musket-firing demonstrations around the castle area.

A number of events take place on the castle grounds throughout the year including craft fairs or music festivals. Check with the Ueda Tourist Information Center for exact dates.

A thousand cherry trees in bloom

Ueda Castle Park is spectacular in the spring when its groves of cherry trees come into bloom. In mid-April, the park hosts the Ueda Castle Sen-Bon Sakura Matsuri, or 1000 Cherry Tree Festival. Come early to get a spot for picnicking or enjoying the evening parties beneath the lit-up trees.

Festivals and performances at Ueda Castle

Noh drama performances run from August to November at the Ueda City Museum on the castle grounds. In late September, the park pulses with an exciting taiko drumming festival featuring scores of talented drummers.

During autumn, the Ueda Castle Autumn Color Festival celebrates the transformation of the park's many Japanese maple trees which turn fiery shades of red and gold.