Asama-onsen Hot Spring
A parade that features over 100 torches. A hot spring town that is the gateway to the scenic Utsukushi-ga-hara, Azumino and Kamikochi.
The Asama-onsen Hot Spring is located in eastern Matsumoto at the center of Nagano, and is one of the most popular hot springs in the prefecture. This hot spring is said to be effective for curing rheumatic diseases, gastronomical troubles and external wounds. In the olden days only the feudal lords residing in Matsumoto Castle, built around 400 years ago, were entitled to use this hot spring. Today it is the gateway to the scenic Utsukushi-ga-hara, Azumino and Kamikochi, as well as to climbing in the Northern Japan Alps.
Asama's hot spring center, called the Hot Plaza Asama, is where you can enjoy seven varieties of baths, including an "air bubble bath" in which air bubbles stir the bath water, and a "falling bath" in which you are doused with falling hot spring water that gently massages you. There is also another public bathhouse nearby called Biwa-no-yu where you can enjoy open-air baths. In addition, the Asama-onsen International Skating Center offers you the pleasure of ice skating as well.
Misa-jinja Shrine celebrates the Torch Festival every fall. Marchers parade through the town carrying over 100 torches of various sizes. The larger torches may be as big as two meters in diameter and three meters in length. Visitors can join in the parade, either by carrying torches or by helping to pull the palanquins.
From Tokyo:[Rail]2h 40 min from Shinjuku (Tokyo) to Matsumoto Station by JR Chuo Line (limited express), and 20 min from Matsumoto Station to Asama-onsen by bus.
From Osaka:[Rail]50 min from Shin-Osaka to Nagoya Station by Shinkansen, and 2h from Nagoya to Matsumoto Station by JR Chuo Line (limited express).