5 Demon Slayer locations to visit in Nagano
Hello again everyone, I’m Watanabe, and I work for Nagano Prefectural Government as a representative officer in Singapore. Perhaps you’ve read my previous article on Matsushiro, a castle town in Nagano. This time, I’d like to write about Demon Slayer (鬼滅の刃 Kimetsu no Yaiba) locations that you can visit in Nagano, my hometown. I think many of you might have heard the name “Demon Slayer”, because in the last few years, it has exploded in popularity not only in Japan, but also around the world.
Demon Slayer’s movie “Infinity Train” (無限列車 Mugen Ressha) was released last October, and even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has already set the record of highest box-office revenue in the history of Japan’s movie industry.
The Demon Slayer movie was also released in Singapore. (Image credit: JR East / Kobori)
Last November, the movie was also released in Singapore, where I live now. In Japan, the movie is targeted at young people, but in Singapore, the movie has a rating of NC16, which means children aged 16 and under aren’t allowed to watch it. Recently, I went to watch the movie, and really enjoyed it. I was very touched by the bond of siblings between Tanjiro and Nezuko.
Due to the movie’s huge success, recently, in Japan, places like shrines and parks related to Demon Slayer are getting popular among the fans. My hometown Nagano Prefecture also has such spots, and in this article, I’d like to introduce five of them.
① Kamado Shrine in Omachi City
As you may know the main characters’ names are Kamado Tanjiro (竈門 炭治郎) and Kamado Nezuko (竈門 禰豆子). In Nagano, there is a shrine which has the same name as them: Kamado Shrine (竈神社 Kamado Jinja) in Omachi City.
Kamado Shrine in winter. (Image credit: Nagano Prefecture)
Although their names share the same sound “kamado”, the kanji characters used are different. The kanji for Tanjiro and Nezuko’s surname is 竈門, but the shrine’s kanji is 竈. For foreigners, especially from Western countries, it seems strange because Tanjiro and Nezuko’s name uses two kanji characters, but the shrine’s name uses only one kanji, yet they still have the same pronunciation. I don’t know why, but things like this often happens in Japanese names.
Kamado Shrine was established in the Kamakura Period (1185–1333), about 800 years ago. It was built by Nishina family which ruled the Azumino area, an area that included Omachi City. The reason for building Kamado Shrine was to protect the northeast side of the Nishina family’s premises. In Japan, it is believed that demons come from northeast side and we call the direction kimon (鬼門), which translates to “demons’ gate” in English. Interestingly, demons were considered into the reason of Kamado Shrine’s establishment.
Kamado Shrine (竈神社)
Address: 4718 Omachi, Omachi-shi, Nagano 398-0002
Access: 20-minute walk from JR Shinano-О̄machi Station (信濃大町駅)
Opening hours: Open throughout the year
Admission fee: Free
Snow walls at the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. (Image credit: Nagano Prefecture)
Aside from the Kamado Shrine, there are still many tourist spots in Omachi City. Since Omachi City is located in northwest of Nagano Prefecture, the city has a prefectural border with Toyama Prefecture at the Northern Japanese Alps. The city is renowned for its rich nature, especially the Japanese Alps. One of the city’s most famous spots is the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.
Due to heavy snowfall, the route is closed during winter, and only opens in April each year. But thanks to heavy snowfall every winter, huge snow walls reaching up to 20m-high are created at the peak. These gigantic snow walls (雪の大谷 yuki-no-о̄tani) attract many tourists not only from Japan but also from around the world. Since the snow walls melt and disappear at the end of May or early June, tourists start to descend on there just after the season opening.
To traverse across the entire route, you will need to ride various different modes of transportation, like a ropeway, electric bus, funicular, and more. The majestic marvels that you can experience along the route are definitely a must-see at least once in your life!
If you have a chance to visit Omachi City, you should visit both Kamado Shrine and the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. For further information, please visit Omachi City’s website here, and Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route’s website here. You can also reach more about the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in this article.
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (立山黒部アルペンルート)
Address: 2117 Taira, Omachi, Nagano 398001 (Nagano side entrance)
Access: 40 minutes by bus from JR Shinano-О̄machi Station (信濃大町駅)
② Sacred tree Nezuko at Kamo Shrine in Nagano City’s Kinasa District
Kamo Shrine. (Image credit: Nagano Convention & Visitors Bureau)
The second place I want to introduce is also a shrine, but this time I’d like to focus on a tree. This tree is regarded as a sacred tree at Kamo Shrine in Nagano City’s Kinasa District, and its name is Nezuko. Yes, it has the same name as the Demon Slayer character Nezuko. If you visit both Kamado Shrine and the Nezuko tree at Kamo Shrine, you can cover Kamado Nezuko’s name completely.
The sacred tree Nezuko. (Image credit: Nagano Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Of course, the Nezuko tree has been around since way before Demon Slayer became popular. The 30m-high tree is estimated to be over 400 years old, and it’s designated as a Natural Treasure of Nagano City. Kamo Shrine was built over 1,000 years ago. Although Nezuko didn’t exist yet when the shrine was built, 400 years is still quite a long time.
There are no commercial goods related to the sacred tree Nezuko, but you can get goshuin (御朱印), a signature stamp of the shrine.
Nagano City is the largest city in Nagano Prefecture but Kinasa District is located at rural area of the city. It used to be a single municipality, but a merger with Nagano City occurred in 2005, and since then it has been a part of the city.
I’d also like to share about the Kinasa District’s interesting history, which involves demons. Kinasa is written as 鬼無里in Japanese, which translates to “a village without demons”. As to how this name came about, there is a very interesting folk tale relating to demons.
During the Asuka Period (592–710), Kinasa was called Minase (水無瀬), and was prospering at that time. The then Emperor Tenmu was considering the idea of moving the capital from Kyoto to Minase, a historical fact that was recorded in a history book. There is a myth that demons living in Minase heard about this relocation idea and thought it would be inconvenient for them. Hence, overnight, they put a mountain on the ground of Minase to prevent the relocation, so that they could continue to live there.
View of Ichiyasan from Daibotoge. (Image credit: Nagano Convention & Visitors Bureau)
The mountain is called Ichiya-san (一夜山) and it still exists in Kinasa. “Ichiya” means “one night” and came from the myth that it took only one night for the demons to put a mountain on Minase. However, the Emperor was furious about the mountain, and ordered his troops to beat the demons. After that, there were no more demons in Minase, and it started to be called Kinasa, a village without demons.
That’s the story about Kinasa, one that is highly related to demons. No wonder Kinasa has become famous among Demon Slayer fans, because there actually were demons here long time ago!
Kamo Shrine (加茂神社)
Address: 14232 Nijyo, Higashi-kyo, Kinasa, Nagano City, Nagano 3814301
Access: 50-minute taxi ride from JR Nagano Station (長野駅)
Admission fee: Free
③ The Infinity Train at Suzaka City Zoo
Retired steam locomotive train at Suzaka City Zoo. (Image credit: Suzaka Tourist Association)
The third Demon Slayer location is a zoo, the Suzaka City Zoo (須坂市動物園 Suzaka-shi Dо̄butsu-en). Even though I write about a zoo, the spotlight is not on the animals, but on a retired steam locomotive. The D51 401 locomotive retired in 1973 and came to Suzaka City Zoo for its second career as an exhibit. It’s been about a half century since it has arrived Suzaka City Zoo, but it seems like now is the time that the locomotive is drawing the biggest attention from the public. Since its shape looks like the Infinity Train which appears in Demon Slayer movie, many fans of Demon Slayer are coming to the zoo to take photos with it.
The Suzaka City Zoo is located inside Garyu Park, which is famous as a tourist spot for cherry blossoms in Nagano Prefecture. If you come to the zoo around the mid-April, you can enjoy both the Infinity Train and cherry blossoms.
Suzaka City Zoo (須坂市動物園)
Address: 2-4-8, Garyu, Suzaka-shi, Nagano 382-0028
Access: 30-minute walk from Nagaden Suzaka Station (須坂駅)
Openin hours: 09:00–16:45 (Closed on Mondays and 29–31 December)
Admission fee: ¥200/adult, ¥70/child (15 and below)
④ The Dragon’s Split Boulder at Sakatayama Symbiotic Forest
Dragon’s Split Boulder at the Sakatayama Symbiotic Forest. (Image credit: Suzaka Tourist Association)
Just a 20-minute walk from the zoo and Garyu Park is the Sakatayama Symbiotic Forest, which is also regarded as Demon Slayer-related place. Inside the forest, there is a rock named Dragon’s Split Boulder (竜の割石 Ryū-no-wariishi), and it is said to resemble the rock which is fractured by Kamado Tanjiro.
In the story, Tanjiro needs to split a huge rock when he’s training under his master’s instruction, and the Dragon’s Split Boulder looks like this rock. You can act like Tanjiro splitting the rock in the story there. In fact, many fans started to cosplay Tanjiro as he splits the rock at the Dragon’s Cracked Rock.
There are also many cherry blossom trees in the forest, so if you visit in April, you can enjoy both acting like Tanjiro and watching the beautiful cherry blossoms.
Sakatayama Symbiotic Forest (坂田山 共生の森)
Address: Sakata, Suzaka-Shi, 3820000
Access: 15-minute taxi ride from Nagaden Suzaka Station (須坂駅)
Opening hours: always open
Admission fee: Free
⑤ Nezuko No Mori at Hakuba Village
HAKUBA MOUNTAIN HARBOR. (Image credit: HAKUBA IWATAKE MOUNTAIN RESORT)
The last place on this list is also a forest. Its name is Nezuko No Mori (ネズコの森 Forest of Nezuko), and it is located close to HAKUBA MOUNTAIN HARBOR at Hakuba Village. Yes, Nezuko comes again.
Before introducing Nezuko No Mori, I’d like to explain why HAKUBA MOUNTAIN HARBOR was built. Hakuba Village is next to Omachi City, and is very famous as one of the best ski resorts in Japan. During winter, Hakuba attracts many skiers and snowboarders not only from Japan, but also from all over the world. However, during the summer season, which we also call the “green season” because the mountains are covered by the fresh greenery of trees, less travelers visit Hakuba, and this has been an issue for years.
To tackle the issue, HAKUBA IWATAKE MOUNTAIN RESORT, a private company which runs ski resorts in Hakuba, opened HAKUBA MOUNTAIN HARBOR in 2018 to attract tourists to Hakuba in the summer season.
THE CITY BAKERY’s popular cinnamon muffins and hot chocolate. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)
HAKUBA MOUNTAIN HARBOR is located at an elevation of 1,289m, and there is a terrace where you can relax at. At the terrace there is THE CITY BAKERY, a globally famous bakery established in 1990 in New York, and the Hakuba outlet is the first outlet in Nagano Prefecture. You can enjoy palatable breads and coffee with looking at an exquisite view of the Northern Japanese Alps.
Nezuko No Mori. (Image credit: HAKUBA IWATAKE MOUNTAIN RESORT)
Our next Demon Slayer-related location, Nezuko No Mori, is located next to HAKUBA MOUNTAIN HARBOUR. Nezuko No Mori is a forest which is designed for trekking. There is a 1.2km-long trekking course around the forest, that takes about 1.5 hours to complete. In the forest, there are many beech trees mizunara oak trees, as well as a a cypress tree named “Nezuko” that protects the forest.
During trekking you can feel plenty of negative ions, and be completely relaxed in the middle of gentle nature. The forest has different faces in each season. In spring, the colour of leaves is green, and in autumn it turns into red and yellow. If you want English guide, you can ask HAKUBA IWATAKE MOUNTAIN RESORT, but please note that English guides are not always available, and to be discussed in each case.
HAKUBA MOUNTAIN HARBOR (白馬マウンテンハーバー)
Address: Kitashiro, Hakuba Village, Nagano, 3999301
Access: Free shuttle bus to Iwatake Mountain Resort from JR Hakuba Station (白馬駅). From the resort, take a gondola up (gondola fees apply).
In this article, I could only introduce a tiny part of Nagano Prefecture. Nagano Prefecture is Japan’s 4th largest prefecture, and is located in center of Japan. Thanks to its location, accessibility from big cities like Tokyo and Nagoya is very good. Although we have no international airport, it’s relatively east to come to Nagano by train from Tokyo or Nagoya. We’re surrounded, protected, and blessed by high mountains, and we always enjoy the beautiful natural resources.
Each season has own features and I believe this makes it possible to suit your purpose of travel. For further information on Nagano Prefecture, please visit our English website here.
- Nagano City’s hidden gem: Matsushiro, a town of samurai and history
- Hakuba in summer Part 1: Full of Nature’s blessings
- Hakuba in summer Part 2: Amazing adventures await!
WATANABE Mamoru (渡辺 守)
Moved to Singapore in 2018 as a Representative Officer of Nagano Prefectural Government. He was born in Niigata and raised in Nagano, and is happy to see more and more Singaporeans coming to his hometown of Nagano.