|Located in central Japan and surrounded by 3,000-meter-high mountains, Nagano Prefecture is home to 2.2 million people with an area of 13,585 square kilometers, and is Japan's fourth largest prefecture. Nagano's unspoiled natural beauty and clean air attract over 100 million visitors annually - a number slightly smaller than Japan's entire population.|
This is a region where the cultures of eastern and western Japan meet. In addition to old temples and shrines, and ruins dating back to the Jo-mon and Yayoi Eras, the prefecture has a rich cultural history that is manifested in the traditional folk songs, dances and doll-making that are still very much evident throughout. The people of Nagano are very conscious of their cultural legacy, and are also strong believers in the importance of education.
Nagano has undergone extensive industrialization over the past half-century. Before World War II, Nagano's main industries were agriculture and silk production, but today are mainly focused on precision electronics, precision machinery, optical equipment and bio-agriculture. Nagano is known as one of Japan's largest concentration of high-tech industries.
There is also an extensive express transportation network. Nagano is linked to Tokyo, Nagoya and the Kansai area by three highways - the Joshin'etsu, Chuo and Nagano highways - and is only 1.5 hours from Tokyo via the Nagano Shinkansen, which began operating in the fall of 1997. Matsumoto Airport provides air links to the Sapporo, Osaka, and Fukuoka airports, providing easy access to Nagano for the ever-increasing number of business travelers and tourists.