One Day in: Iida
Hidden in the mountains, deep in the Tenryu River valley, lies the sprawling city of Iida, Nagano. From elevated scenic views to rolling fields of rice, Iida is home to beautiful nature, people, and culture. Reaching Iida by car is the most convenient way; buses are also available from Tokyo which take about 5 hours.
While a visit to Iida is slower and more relaxed than one to a major city, there are plenty of things to do for first-time visitors. Start the day strolling the main streets, taking in the local shops which often don’t open until late morning. Explore the apple-lined main street whose trees are tended to by local students. When it opens, visit the puppet museum near the city community center to learn about the rich culture of puppetry in the area.
Continue uphill to the Iida Station area for souvenirs from shops like Tagetsudo. Strike up a conversation with the owners, who love to interact with visitors. Take the train out to the Tenryuu River Valley for extraordinary views. Stop at Imada Puppet Theatre a 15 minute walk from the train station to catch a puppet performance or simply admire the beautiful old theatre and the rich history that surrounds it. Return to Iida City’s main walk by train. Walk downhill to the public bathing house that overlooks the entire valley. It is even more beautiful at night. Enjoy the peaceful, clean mountain air. Release.
In Iida, there is no need to rush. That is the magic of the Japanese countryside. The community buzzes with the energy of daily life, but each moment is savored until the next arrives.
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