Spot in Nagano Prefecture

Utsukushigahara [美ヶ原]

Ougatou in Utsukushigahara
Ougatou in Utsukushigahara

View from Utsukushigahara
View from Utsukushigahara

Utsukushigahara is a gently sloping mountain with some peaks as much as 2,000 meters high.

It is a lava plateau, and it is said that this plateau was formed about 2 million years ago.

The highest peak is Ougatou (王ヶ頭, 2,034 m).
The name means "King's head".

It is located about 15 km east of Matsumoto city.

The top is relatively flat.
So there are several broadcasting towers to whole area of Nagano Prefecture, because this mountain is positioned roughly in the center of the prefecture.

Around the top, there are some pastures of cows and grassland spreads.
The total width is about 1,000 hectares.

And some walking trails are set up.

"Utsukushigahara" means "Beautiful field".
From the area around the top, we can see the beautiful scenery of Northen Alps, Southern Alps, Mount Asama and Mount Fuji.

But the fog sometimes comes, so if you can see the all mountains, you are lucky.

Stone Buddha Statues on Ougahana
Stone Buddha Statues on Ougahana
Photo by Nagano Tourism Organization

View from Ougahana
View from Ougahana

There is another peak Ougahana (王ヶ鼻, 2,008 m) about 1 km west of Ougatou and is the west edge of Utsukushigahara.
The name means "King's nose".

Ougahana is also a good observatory, but it is a unique place.

There are some stone Buddha Statues created in Edo Period (1603-1868) on the peak.
They are magnetized by repeated lightning strikes for the long time.

All of them face toward Mount Ontake (3,067 m) located about 70 km southwest of the peak.
It is thought that Ontake had been a sacred mountain and the statues were built for the belief.


Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum
Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum
Photo by Nagano Tourism Organization

There is Utsukushi-no-tou (美しの塔) about 2 km east of Ougatou.

It is a bell tower built in 1954 and rebuilt in 1984.
When this highland has been enveloped in a fog, the bell are rang to lead the climbers.

The height is 6 meters, and it is the symbol of Utsukushigahara.

On the slope at 1.5 km northeast of Utsukushi-no-tou, there is Utsukushigahara Open-Air Museum (美ヶ原高原美術館).

About 350 modern sculpture works are exhibited in the outdoor site.

The mountain area including above spots are closed from December to April.
And there is no road for car within the area.
You need to use the equipment for trekking when you visit this area.

How to get here

The route bus is operated in some days in only from mid-June to late September. It goes from Matsumoto city to near Utsukushigahara.
It takes about 1 hours and 40 minutes.

Other Tourist Attractions in Nagano Prefecture

Northern part

Mount Asama Karuizawa Kaikoen Bessho Onsen Sugadaira highland Zenkoji temple Obuse town Yudanaka-Shibu Onsen towns Jigokudani Monkey Park Shiga highland Nozawa Onsen Lake Nojiri Mount Togakushi

Central part

Tateshina highland Kirigamine highland Lake Suwa Matsumoto Castle Azumino town

Along Northern Alps

Kamikochi Norikura highland Lake Aoki Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Hakuba village

Along Kiso Valley

Narai post station Mount Ontake Nezame-no-toko gorge Tsumago & Magome post stations

Along Ina Valley

Mount Kiso-Komagatake Takatô Castle Ruins Park Tenryukyo gorge

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