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Nagano’s floral paradise: Fujimi Panorama Resort and Mount Nyukasa’s 4 seasons

Nagano’s floral paradise: Fujimi Panorama Resort and Mount Nyukasa’s 4 seasons

Mention Nagano Prefecture (長野県 Nagano-ken) and several things would come to mind: majestic mountain ranges, delectable mountain foods, and amazing hot springs. The prefecture is particularly known for its nature, more so when it has a relatively mountainous terrain. And where there are mountain terrains, there are also mountain resorts! Nagano’s mountains, climate, and presence of mountain resorts may make it a popular winter destination, but do you know that there are many pleasant surprises for the summer too?

 

Fujimi Panorama Resort (富士見パノラマリゾート) is a mountain resort in Nagano, located in the presence of the grand Mount Nyukasa (入笠山 Nyūkasa-yama). It was established in December 1987, and although it is a popular destination for winter activities, the resort transforms into a floral paradise in the summer, and visitors can gaze at all the wondrous flowers that bloom during this season, as well as engage in fun outdoor activities here. For this article, we shall explore what awaits us at the resort for the summer, and see why this should be on your bucket list for the green season.

 

Starting the journey from Shinjuku

E353 series on the Chuo Main Line. (Image credit: JR East/Yoshihara)

 

Fujimi Panorama Resort is located in Fujimi (富士見), an idyllic rural town in the south-eastern part of Nagano. To get to the resort from Tokyo, visitors can hop on the Limited Express Azusa (あずさ) from JR Shinjuku Station (JR新宿駅 Shinjuku-eki) and travel on the Chuo Main Line (中央本線 Chūō-honsen) for around 2 hours towards Fujimi.

 

Gateway stations to Fujimi

Fujimi Station. (Image credit: JR East/Yoshihara)

 

Fujimi Panorama Resort can be accessed from two train stations in Fujimi: JR Fujimi Station (JR富士見駅 Fujimi-eki) and JR Suzurannosato Station (JRすずらんの里駅 Suzurannosato-eki). Before heading to the resort, visitors can enjoy appreciating the stations themselves, which are a sight to behold. Fujimi Station was first built more than a hundred years ago in 1904, and the current station building looks and feels like a rustic countryside home with its triangular wooden roof and walls. Visitors coming from the big cities will feel like they’ve been transported to another world once they step out of the train, especially when they set foot into a retro-looking station like this.

 

Fujimi Station’s entrance. (Image credit: JR East/Yoshihara)

 

There are two interesting facts about Fujimi Station. One, it’s at an altitude of 955.2 metres, making it the highest station on the Chuo Main Line and the highest station that is served by a limited express train service! Travelling on the train to stations at high altitudes are always an exciting experience, especially when you can see mountains and high plains passing by you from the train window.

 

Two, if you think the name ‘Fujimi’ has something to do with the all-famous Mount Fuji, then you’re certainly right. The town name does mean that the iconic mountain can be seen from here, and best of all, visitors will get a chance to see it at the resort.

 

And here’s bonus tip for train travellers: inside Fujimi Station there’s a ‘station soba’ (駅そば eki-soba) shop that serves delicious soba, so do try it out!

(Note: the Limited Express Azusa does not always make a stop at Fujimi Station. An alternative route is to alight at JR Kobuchizawa Station (JR小淵沢駅 Kobuchizawa-eki) and switch to the ordinary train to continue to Fujimi Station.)

 

Fujimi Station and Suzurannosato Station on the Chuo Main Line. (Image credit: JR East/Yoshihara)

 

The other station to check out in Fujimi is Suzurannosato Station, which is just after Fujimi Station. Interestingly, the town of Fujimi is famous for its lilies-of-the-valley (すずらん suzuran), so much that the station is named after it. The station is unmanned and is built on an embankment where the platforms are connected by sheltered staircases.

 

The embankment where the station is built on. (Image credit: JR East/Yoshihara)

 

Visitors to Fujimi Panorama Resort can get off at Fujimi Station and take a complimentary 10-minute shuttle bus ride that runs daily between the station and the resort. The bus makes only one round trip each day, and departs from the station at 10am and from the resort at 3pm. Alternatively, those coming from Suzurannosato Station can opt to take a 5-minute cab ride from the station to the resort with a fare of around ¥1,000.

 

Heading up

Gondola up Mount Nyukasa. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Upon arrival at the resort, visitors can take an eight-seater gondola from the Lower Station (山麓駅Sanroku-eki) up to the Upper Station (山頂駅 Sanchō-eki) to begin their summer adventure. The gondola ride is an approximate 700m up the mountain slope, and visitors will get an amazing aerial view of the town of Fujimi, and mountains in the far distance. What a way to prep yourself up right before arriving at the top!

 

Gondola for Fujimi Panorama Resort
Address: 6666-703 Fujimi, Fujimi-machi, Suwa-gun, Nagano 399-0211
Nearest station: JR Fujimi Station (富士見駅)
Operating hours:
   8:30am–4pm (last descent at 4:30pm, April–September)
   8:30am–3:30pm (last descent at 4pm, October onwards)
Admission fees:
   ¥1,700 per adult / ¥800 per child (round trip, complimentary flower booklet for round ticket buyers)

Note:

  • Service begins from 8am onwards for 22 May–20 June and 17 July–15 August
  • Ticket sales begin 15 minutes before operation
  • Operating hours may change depending on the weather conditions

 

Let the adventure begin!

Fujimi Panorama Resort's spring map. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Fujimi Panorama Resort’s summer map. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

After arriving at the Upper Station, at an altitude of around 1,780m, the real adventure begins, and visitors can visit many places available for the summer. Check out the exciting attractions that await you here!

 

Nyukasa Suzuran Park (入笠すずらん山野草公園)

Nyukasa Suzuran Park. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Step off from the Upper Station, and visitors will be greeted with a floral wonderland before their very eyes! Nyukasa Suzuran Park is an open field with more than 100 different species of flowers that visitors can enjoy for the summer. This is a must-visit especially for flower fans, as visitors can see interesting varieties of flowers such as tiger lilies (コオニユリ kōniyuri), geraniums (ハクサンフウロ hakusanfūro), and bellflowers (サワギキョウ sawagikyō).

 

Flowers at the park during the summer. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

But the main highlight awaits between late-May to early June when the area will be filled with German lilies-of-the-valley! Up to 200,000 will be in bloom during this period, and visitors can witness up-close these dainty white flowers that resemble small bells. The resort will be filled with these magnificent flowers in early summer, which is why it’s one of the best times to visit in the year.

 

Lily-of-the-valley. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

In fact, you might be interested to know that the language of the lily-of-the-valley is “happiness has arrived/returned”, and the flower emits a faint sweet scent. Imagine visiting the park and being welcomed by the endless azure blue sky and verdant green leaves, together with these sweet-smelling, pretty white flowers. It’s an experience that all visitors won’t forget, and a great opportunity for them to simply take things slow and enjoy Mother Nature’s offerings.

 

Yatsugatake Observatory (八ヶ岳展望台)

Yatsugatake Observatory. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Beyond the Nyukasa Suzuran Park, a magnificent panoramic scenery awaits. Yatsugatake Observatory is where visitors can get an amazing unobstructed view of the surrounding areas, including the town of Fujimi below. On a clear day, they will even be able to see the Yatsugatake Mountains (八ヶ岳連峰 Yatsugatake-renpō) in the far distance!

 

A Lover’s Sanctuary. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

What’s more, visitors should be on a lookout for a heart shape found among the slopes, which is how the observatory garners its romantic reputation. Even more interestingly, in 2006, one of Japan’s most celebrated fashion designers Katsura Yumi (桂由美) declared it a Lover’s Sanctuary (恋人の聖地 Koibito no Seichi), which are romantic spots all over Japan that are specially recommended for lovebirds.

 

Mount Fuji as seen from the observatory. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Do you know what is the biggest surprise about the observatory? Mount Fuji (富士山 Fuji-san) can be seen from here! If the weather is favourable, visitors can actually see Japan’s most famous mountain from the observatory, in the opposite direction of the Yatsugatake Mountains. The mountain is notorious for being shrouded by clouds, so visitors can cross their fingers that they will get a peek at the majestic mountain during the summer.

 

Nyukasa Marsh (入笠湿原)

Nyukasa Marsh. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

A 10-minute walk from the Upper Station, and visitors will set foot on Nyukasa Marsh, a 1.85-hectare sprawling marsh that stretches across the slopes of Mount Nyukasa. They can witness up to a whopping 1 million Japanese lilies-of-the-valley from early to late June, and on top of that, the marsh features a plethora of other flowers such as skunk cabbage (水芭蕉 mizubashō), touch-me-not balsams (黄釣舟 kitsurifune), and Japanese primroses (九輪草 kurinsō). These flowers can be enjoyed from May to August, but their blooming periods differ according to their species.

 

Japanese lilies-of-the-valley at Nyukasa Marsh. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Oahara Marsh (大阿原湿原)

Oahara Marsh. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Another place to look out for at Fujimi Panorama Resort is Oahara Marsh, where visitors can also witness other beautiful flora during the summer. On top of flowers such as lilies-of-the-valley and Japanese primroses, they can see Japanese white birch (シラカンバ shirakanba), willows (ヤナギ yanagi), and Japanese azaleas (レンゲツツジ rengetsutsuji) around here. Visitors can enjoy flower watching from the elevated wooden platforms that traverse the marsh.

 

Flower field ()

Flower field. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Beyond Nyukasa Marsh is the trailhead for hiking up Mount Nyukasa. Before visitors plan to give themselves a challenge and hike up the mountain, they can have a leisurely stroll along a flower field where even more flowers bloom and carpet the mountain slope. Here, visitors can see flowers that are different from those they’ve seen at Nyukasa Marsh and Nyukasa Suzuran Park. Just when you thought you can’t get to see even more flowers here!

 

Mount Nyukasa summit (入笠山頂)


The summit of Mount Nyukasa. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Hiking is synonymous with summer in Japan, and when Mount Nyukasa is within sights at the resort, it’s tempting for visitors to want to hike up to the 1,955m summit. And indeed, hikers are in for a treat here, as they can get a breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. In fact, visitors may see up to 22 of the '100 Famous Japanese Mountains' (日本百名山 Nihon Hyaku-meizan), as compiled by mountaineer Fukada Kyuya (深田久弥) in 1964. It’s an approximate 2-km hike from the Upper Station to the summit, and the journey can be enjoyed by beginners and advanced hikers.

 

Take note that there are several courses up the summit for visitors to choose from, depending on where they are coming from. For those starting the ascent from the trailhead at the flower field, they will reach a forked juncture where they can choose between two courses. The courses have a rocky terrain, so it’s best if visitors wear proper footwear for the hike. For those coming from Oahara Marsh, there is another course up the summit along the way.

 

Taking the short or long route

Visitors to the resorts can choose between two model courses during the summer, depending on what they would like to enjoy and how much time they have on their hands:

 

Short course (90 minutes)

This course is best for visitors who are up for an easy walk, and enjoying the main highlights of the area. It takes only 90 minutes and covers 2km in distance, and visitors can enjoy the alpine flora and view of the Yatsugatake Mountains by dropping by Nyukasa Suzuran Park, Nyukasa Marsh, and Yatsugatake Observatory.

 

Lower Station(10–15-minute ride)Upper Station(1-minute walk)Nyukasa Suzuran Park(5-minute walk)Yatsugatake Observatory(15-minute walk)Nyukasa MarshUpper Station(10–15-minute ride)Lower Station

 

Mount Nyukasa summit course (3 hours)

Want something more challenging? Take the full Mount Nyukasa summit course, a 3-hour trek that includes a bit of everything from the resort. Visitors on this course will enjoy the unobstructed panoramic view of the surrounding areas once they reach the summit.

 

Lower Station(10–15-minute ride)Upper Station(10-minute walk)Nyukasa Marsh (10-minute walk)flower field (trailhead for Mount Nyukasa hike)(30-minute hike)Mount Nyukasa summit → *(10–15-minute ride)Upper Station(10–15-minute ride)Lower Station

*if you have spare time, you can visit Nyukasa Suzuran Park and Yatsugatake Observatory after descending from the summit

 

For the adventure seekers

Paragliding

Paragliding at Fujimi Panorama Resort. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Interested in something more daring than hiking and flower watching? Then here's an activity for those who want a bird’s eye view of the resort. Here, you can take part in paragliding where you can get a magnificent view of the Yatsugatake Mountains before your very eyes as you glide gracefully in the sky.

 

Lessons on paragliding are conducted by JMB Fujimi Panorama Glider School at the resort, and visitors can spend half a day attending a briefing to learn the basics and safety tips, followed by gear assembly and then the actual take-off. Tandem flights are also available.

 

The altitude of more than 1,000m, and the gentle slopes along Mount Nyukasa makes the environment perfect for paragliding where visitors can feel as free as a bird in the sky. Although this one will scare those who are afraid of heights, I can imagine that the priceless view from the sky is absolutely worth it!

 

JMB Fujimi Panorama Glider School (JMB富士見パノラマグライダースクール)
Operating period: 24 April–14 November 2021
Operating hours: 8:30am–5pm
Prices:
   ¥7,400 per adult (half-day experience )
   ¥16,000 per adult (two-seater 800m tandem flight)|
Tel: +81-266-62-7691

Note: paragliding activities may be cancelled due to bad weather.

 

Mountain biking

Off-road and mountain biking at Mountain Bike Park. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Aching to enjoy the summer on a bicycle? Try off-road or even mountain biking at one of Japan’s largest mountain bike park! Fujimi Panorama Resort is home to the Mountain Bike Park, where visitors can enjoy bike riding along the mountain slopes and open fields. It is one of the biggest attractions at the resorts, and it’s a must-do activity for all thrill seekers.

 

For those who find mountain biking daunting, fret not. There are two areas for bikers of different skillsets: the Skill Improvement Area for first timers and beginners, and the Downhill Area for more confident bike riders. Each has their own different trails to choose from, and visitors can choose the ones best suited for their skill level. Mountain bikes and bike accessories are available for rent too, and the staff will be more than happy to teach visitors the basics on biking.

 

Hop on a two-wheeler and peddle leisurely through the green fields of Nyukasa, or feel the adrenaline rush as you race down mountain trails, with the longest stretch up to 8km and an elevation of over 700m. The choice is yours!

 

Fujimi Panorama Resort Mountain Bike Park
Operating period: 29 April–14 November 2021
Operating hours:
   9am–4pm (April–September)
   9am–3:30pm (October–November)
Prices:
   ¥15,000 per adult (1-day bike rental fee + equipment + gondola pass for Skill Improvement Area)
   ¥18,500 per adult (1-day bike rental fee + equipment + gondola pass for Downhill Area)
Tel: +81-0266-62-5666

Note: the park may be closed in the event of competitions or bad weather.

 

Bonus: Mount Nyukasa’s 4 seasons

Indeed, the best time to visit Fujimi Panorama Resort may be in early summer but there is never a wrong time for a visit. The resort has something visually spectacular to offer throughout the year, and visitors should make a trip here not just in the summer, but for spring, autumn, and winter too. Check out what the resort has in store for other times of the year.

 

Spring

Fujimi Panorama Resort in spring. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Although early summer is the ideal time for flowers, visitors can start seeing them from spring onwards. Lilies-of-the-valley may be the highlight of the resort, but there are other flowers that warrant much attention. For instance, from late April to early May, visitors will be able to see pink-flowered trout lilies that are native to Japan, called katakuri (カタクリ). Up to 50,000 of these beautiful magenta flowers bloom during this period, and they can be seen at Nyukasa Suzuran Park.

 

Autumn

Fujimi Panorama Resort in autumn. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

As autumn approaches, the resort begins to visually transform once again, and more surprises are in store for their lucky visitors. From late August to mid-September, they can see a special kind of flower called ezorindō (エゾリンドウ Gentiana trifloral) covering Nyukasa Marsh and covering it with a bluish-purple hue. And from mid-October, vivid autumn foliage begins to envelope the mountain slopes in fiery red, golden yellow, and orange hues.

 

Winter

Snow trekking during winter. (Image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Gear up towards the end of the year, when Fujimi Panorama Resort transforms into a winter wonderland. The resort is famous for its winter activities such as snowboarding and sledding, but the one thing visitors should really try is mountain trekking from the Upper Station to the summit of Mount Nyukasa. Trekking is open from end of December to end of March, and winter equipment is available for rent too. Imagine making your way through the powdery snow and witnessing the snow-capped Yatsugatake Mountains in the distance once you reach the top of the mountain; it’s an experience that you can’t put into words!

 

Fujimi Panorama Resort in spring. (Video credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Fujimi Panorama Resort in the summer. (Video credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort)

 

Whether it’s the beautiful blooming flowers, the enjoyable outdoor activities of hiking, or the visually mesmerising views of the mountains, summer has something for everyone who loves the great outdoors. Fujimi Panorama Resort is one such place that offers the best that the season has to offer, and better yet, it’s conveniently accessible by train from Tokyo. If you'd like to make a trip to the resort and other places within Nagano, the pass below might help you with your railway adventure!

 

JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area)

The new JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) and where you can use it. (Image credit: JR East)

 

The JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) is an affordable pass that offers unlimited rail travel on JR East lines (including bullet trains) in the valid area for 5 consecutive days. At only ¥18,000, you can save a lot of money if you travel extensively by trains in the region, including a round trip between Tokyo and Fujimi. You can also make seat reservations for bullet trains, some limited express trains and Joyful Trains online for free, up to 1 month in advance, here. It can also be used for automatic ticket gates, and foreign passport holders living in Japan are also eligible to use this pass.

 

Header image credit: Fujimi Panorama Resort

 

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