Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Okususobana Valley – One of the Most Stunning Places in Nagano

Okususobana Valley (奥裾花渓谷) is one of the most scenic spots in Nagano. Located in Kinasa Village‘s north, the picturesque valley was chosen to be one of the 100 Landscapes of Japan. Especially in October, when the 5 km valley is decorated with vivid fall color, it receives numerous visitors for the masterpiece created by mother nature.

The Best Time to Visit Okususobana Valley

Ⓒ ながの観光コンベンションビューロー
  • The Skunk Cabbage in Okususobana Nature Garden (奥裾花自然園) at the far end of the valley usually blooms from mid to late May each year.
    • Please note if the weather turns warm earlier, the flowers will bloom from early to mid-May. If you get to the garden in late May, you will get to adorn other flowers and even be able to spot the eggs of forest green tree frogs!
  • The fall foliage season of Okususobana Valley is from mid to late October.

Okususobana Dam (奥裾花ダム)

Okususobana Dam is at the entrance of Okususobana Valley.

Tip: If you love to collect small things representing the places you have visited, head to the dam’s office. Check with the staff to see if they are still giving out the Dam Card (ダムカード). It is a small card of the size of your Japanese prepaid transportation IC card with an image of the dam printed on one side.

Important: The dam is closed from early November to late April.

Okususobana Bridge (奥裾花大橋)

Right in front of the Okususobana Dam, you will find the symbol of the valley, the Okususobana Bridge. It is one of the most popular photography spots throughout the entire village.

In front of the bridge, there is a space for parking. So feel free to get off the car and snap a few breathtaking photos!

From the bridge to Okususobana Natural Garden (奥裾花自然園), the narrow road is one-way only. As there aren’t any proper parking lots throughout the valley, please park on the road shoulders if you want to take some photos. But watch out for any ongoing traffic when you do so.

Photo from photo-ac.com

Tip: As parking is limited at the side of the driveway, park where you see possible so you can get out of the car and admire the scenery at a leisurely pace. You may not find another parking space if you keep driving.

Observing Various Rare Terrains at Okususobana Valley

Apart from the stunning autumn scenery, one of the other charms of Okususobana Valley is the variety of rare terrains created when the water of the Susobana River (裾花川) runs through the sedimentary rock formation.

Ⓒ 鬼無里観光振興会
Ⓒ 鬼無里観光振興会

If you look closely at the rocks with an explanation board standing in front of them, you will see various fossils that prove that the area used to be under the sea.

Without an English-speaking guide and being unable to read the Japanese explanation on the board, it might be hard to determine whether it is the fossil of wave trails or some sort of sea creature. But, the weirdly shaped rocks should still amaze you (^_-)-☆.

Ⓒ 鬼無里観光振興会

One of the other popular spots is this place called Pothole (ポットホール), which was also nicknamed Monkey’s Drinking Fountain (refer to the top of the left photo). Whilst you probably wouldn’t spot any monkeys drinking from the hole when you visit, the waterfall basin size is perfect for the cheeky monkeys to rehydrate!

Another excellent photography spot is this syncline structure that is called Hikage Kōsha (日影向斜) in Japanese.

Ⓒ 鬼無里観光振興会

How to Get to Okususobana Valley

Unfortunately, the best way to get to Okususobana Valley is by car.

But, if you don’t mind a 20 km cycle, you can rent an electric-assisted bike at Sobadokoro Kinasa, close to the bus stop Tabi no Eki Kinasa.

Important: As the road from Kinasa Village center to Okususobana Valley is prone to road closures due to frequent landslides, remember to check the road condition before heading out.

Okususobana Natural Garden (奥裾花自然園)

Important: Okususobana Natural Garden is closed from July to September in 2023.

Ⓒ ながの観光コンベンションビューロー

Okususobana Natural Garden is located at the end of Okususobana Valley. The garden that is more like a forest park is the natural habitat of skunk cabbage, with its gorgeous white flowers blooming in May.

Established by Kinasa Village (now a part of Nagano City) to protect nature, the wetland is great for exploring a virgin forest. Especially in autumn, when the forest is dyed golden, a fantastic landscape will unfold in front of you.

From the end of May to June, around the waterfront and ponds, you might be able to hear or even see the prefectural natural monument – forest green tree frogs (=゚ω゚)ノ.

If you visit Kinasa Village in October, the fall foliage continues all the way from the valley to the park to amaze you.

With most of the garden covered by beech forest, the park is perfect for refreshing strolls from spring to autumn!

Ⓒ ながの観光コンベンションビューロー

Okususobana Natural Garden’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • Okususobana Natural Garden is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm from the end of April to early November.
  • The admission fee for middle school students and above is
    • 410 yen between the end of April to May
    • 200 yen from June to October
  • Between the end of April to mid-May, you can take Alpico Bus’s route no. 75 from Nagano Station or shuttle bus from Okususobana Tourist Information Center (奥裾花観光センター).
    • You can refer to HERE for the timetable of the service and translate it to English by Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.
    • Okususobana Tourist Information Center is also where the car park of the garden is located. From there, it is a 30-minute walk to the garden’s entrance.

Important: Bus route no. 75 may not be in service every year. It is best to confirm if the service is running when you plan your visit. You can email Kinasa Tourism Association at [email protected] or call Nagano Tourist Information Center at +81-26-226-5626.

If you have rented an electric-assisted bicycle, you can cycle your way through the valley.

  • From Tabi no Eki Kinasa to Okususobana Dam, it is around 11 km with minimal slopes.
  • To Okususobana Natural Garden, it is around 20 km that has a couple of slopes that you will have to cycle through.

Although in Japanese only, THIS MAP will give you a visual idea of the garden’s setting. As an icon doesn’t mark toilet facilities, please look for the Japanese words “トイレ” on the map.

Other Attractions in Kinasa Village

If you are looking for a stunning place to visit in Japan that hasn’t been commercialized and has an abundance of nature, consider dropping by Kinasa in Nagano Prefecture! The quaint village is just around an hour away by bus from the city center of Nagano. It is adjacent to Togakushi and Hakuba, receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors each year!

For more information, please refer to our article on Kinasa Village (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click the photo to find out more attractions close by!

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