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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • 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
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • 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
Kanto
Kanto
  • 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
Tokai
Tokai
  • 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
Kansai
Kansai
  • 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
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • 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
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • 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
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • 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
Okinawa
  • 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

Art & Design

Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum 美ヶ原高原美術館

City Meets Country, Bubble Era Style

On the Utsukushigahara Highland above Matsumoto, looking out across the central Nagano plains to the Northern Alps, lies this larger-than-life sculpture garden with a view. Visit for a down-the-rabbit-hole juggernaut of incongruity like you've never seen.

Quick Facts

On the ride up, or down, there is a stop at Utsukushigahara Onsen to soak your cares away

The spellbinding view from Ogato is the highland's highest point

The Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum was created as a sister museum to pair with the Hakone Open-Air Museum

How to Get There

Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum is accessible by bus or by car.

Daily buses run through the summer from the Matsumoto Bus Terminal in front of Matsumoto Station (1 hour 40 minutes).

In spring and fall, you'll need a car. (The museum is closed mid-November to late April). Driving is definitely the easiest way to get to Utsukushigahara in the summer, too.

Take in the beauty of the highlands

Utsukushigara. The "Beautiful Fields." Rising 2000 meters above central Nagano, this highland has long captured the imaginations of the people below. In summer, over 200 varieties of wildflowers come into bloom. From its highest point at Ogato, there's a panoramic view of the full sweep of the Japan Alps, Mt. Asama, Yatsugatake, and iconic Mt. Fuji to the south. Hiking trails link the different parts of the highland, all with stunning views, and the walks are easy.

Stunning art

So urges a plaque on one of the pieces at the Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum. Walk through the gates and you'll be greeted by a four-meter bronze thumb rising from the lawn. Nearby, a decapitated angle spreads her wings. Legless, headless zebra torsos bound up a hill. Colossal abstracts of twisting metal. A vermillion helicopter / dragonfly hybrid. A massive rhinoceros. A screaming Viking head. A replica of Thebes.

Journey to Get All Together on the Verge of Hyperreality

350 of these outdoor sculptures occupy 40,000 meters of one of Utsukushigahara Highlands' most scenic spots. This museum without walls wants you to "enjoy the conversation with contemporary art amid the great beauty" of nature. Established at the height of Japanese economic dominance during the Bubble Era in 1981, it remains a fascinating testament to the heady spaces Japan found itself at the time. Wander the grounds, admire the stunning view of the Alps and the summer profusion of flowers, and wonder what hyperreality you've stepped into.

Museum facilities

The museum's scarlet roofed main building has gallery and event spaces, a restaurant, a shopping area, and a kids' sculpture play room.

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