Ueda City sits along the banks of the Chikuma River in Nagano Prefecture surrounded by mountains. I have been lucky to call it home for the last 20 years. When initially moving to Japan from the UK, I had requested to live in the southern part of the prefecture close to my fiancé’s hometown, but my employer had other ideas and I was placed in Ueda. Thank goodness I was. I can honestly say that after 20 years of living here and traveling the length and breadth of Nagano, I can’t imagine a better location. Let me tell you why.
Ueda has almost everything you could possibly want, plus the best access to everything else.
I love the outdoors, and being able to enjoy all the great activities this wonderful prefecture has to offer year round, either straight from my doorstep or within an hour or so’s drive has been the difference between staying here short term, and actually building a family and committing to permanent residence in Japan. Ueda has access to almost 360 degrees of hiking trails up local mountains. There are local ski-resorts, mountain bike trails, rivers and streams to swim and cool off in during the summer heat, then hot-springs for those winter months. Talking of sun, Ueda City boasts the most hours of sunshine a year within the prefecture, and, a very low earthquake probability.
Ueda City itself is the third largest city in Nagano Prefecture yet it doesn’t feel intimidating or claustrophobic. There is plenty of charm and history to be found in and around the city, yet all the modern facilities and shops you would expect; 2 large department stores, a cinema complex, all the usual clothing outlets, supermarkets, restaurants, and sports stores. Ueda also sits on the JR East Bullet-Train line, making Tokyo a 90 minute trip away -perfect for day trips to the capital, or quick access to international airports. The easily accessed highway to the north of the city opens up even more opportunities for fun and adventure if you have your own transport.
When I said Ueda has almost everything, plus the best access to everything else, I wasn’t kidding. To the north-west, Olympic ski-resorts all within 2 hours drive. The Sea of Japan coastline is a short hour and a half drive on the highway. To the east, Karuizawa, famous for it’s outlet shopping mall, designer shops, boutiques, and golf courses. If mountain biking is your thing, the best downhill parks in Japan are all within 2 hours drive. You really are spoilt for choice for things to keep you entertained.
Lakes, rivers, mountains, beaches, shops, restaurants, parks, famous temples, castles, Ueda has easy access to it all!