Profile photo rowing a boat on Lake Haruna in GUnma

Angus Miyaji

Things to do in Ueno Village - Nearby Tokyo Interview

Talking about 'things to do' in Ueno Village city

We are back this month with our popular interviews series, featuring towns and cities near Tokyo, and this month we are talking about Ueno Village (上野村) in Gunma prefecture! Located 3-4 hours from Tokyo, it is close to the borders of Nagano and Saitama prefectures and is a great place for anyone seeking to experience the rich nature of local Japan.

As always, I have been in touch with the people who know best, and this month, I had a conversation with Nobumasa Takizawa who is involved in regional development at the Uenomura Local Industry Information Center. He shared some fantastic insights about what to see and do in Ueno Village.

Curious to find out more? Here is my interview below, and I am confident that after reading it, you will be eager to add Ueno Village to your list of places to visit.

Which is the best season to come to Ueno Village?

I’d be more than happy to answer this question.

Each season has its own potential and unique attractions. That being said, you are able to especially appreciate the beauty of the forests in the area during spring and autumn.

Ueno Village (上野村) is located in the middle of a natural treasure: 95% of the area is covered by forests, and 60% of those forests are comprised of broadleaf forests. 

We hope that when you visit Ueno Village, you’ll take in the lush natural beauty of the forests.

In the springtime, a combination of plum, cheery blossoms, peach blossoms, and azalea blankets the land to create a mesmerizing modern-day Shangri-La. In addition, the green and yellow broadleaves give color to Ueno Village in a spectacular fashion.

In the summer, the broadleaves reach their peak intensity of green. This is also the time of year when the river is most beautiful. The Kannagawa River (神流川) flows right through the middle of the village where you can find Ayu fish swimming, and at night, you can listen to the soothing croaking of the frogs.

When the season changes to autumn, the entire landscape becomes engulfed in a sea of read and yellow due to the autumn leaves. With the temperature at a comfortable level, it creates perfect conditions for doing outdoor activities like hiking. Wether it’s hiking, cycling, or walking, we hope you enjoy outdoor activities during this period!

Lastly, for winter, we have hot springs and crystal-clear night skies. Because of Ueno village’s small population, the virtually nonexistent light pollution gives you the opportunity to see an unobstructed night sky. It is truly a sight to see!

Spring Sakura / Intense Green Summer Mountains / Golden Autumn Foliage

What are the top 3 attractions you cannot miss in Ueno Village?

If you’re bringing children with you, the best places to have fun are Tenku-Kairou (天空回廊) area, Kawa-no-eki Ueno (川の駅上野) area, and Michi-no-eki Ueno (上野道の駅) area.

In the Tenku-Kairou area, you have the Fujido Limestone cave (鍾乳洞不二洞), the Ueno Sky Bridge (上野スカイブリッジ), forest adventure, cottages, camping grounds, and glamping, all of which you can enjoy as the Uneo Villages number one tourist spot! We recommend that you spend two days and one night so you can enjoy activities such as cave exploration, forest adventures, and boar-pig barbeques at night. 

Secondly, we have Kannagawa River. Among one of Japan’s purest rivers, it has been selected by the Ministry of the Environment as one of Japan’s 100 Famous Waters. The sound of the river is very soothing, and you can jump in the river during the summer. Because the water is so clear, you can even see fish as you swim.

Lastly, you have Villa Seseragi (ヴィラせせらぎ). It is a hot springs inn located near Kannagawa River. At this inn, you can have meals that use ingredients locally sourced from Ueno Village. Meals with Inobuta (猪豚) and locally-grown vegetables are especially amazing. Whether you are spending time in the hot springs or relaxing in your room, there are many ways to enjoy your stay at the inn!

These attractions will surely create wonderful experiences and make everlasting memories.-

Fujido Limestone cave / Ueno Sky Bridge / Villa Seseragi

Recommended food - is there any special dish or drink?

I highly recommend Inobuta / boar-pig pork, shiitake mushrooms, and Jyukkoku Miso (十石味噌)!

Inobuta (猪豚) is a crossbreed between a wild boar and a pig. Its meat is one of our most cherished sources of food, and about 200 inobuta are produced every year.

Its meat has a chewy texture, the fat is soft, and to top it off, it is packed with collagen which is an important nutrient for skin health and beauty. Please do give it a try!

We harvest shiitake mushrooms using sawdust. They’re incredibly juicy and have a delightful texture.

Jyukkoku miso is our local specialty miso. Fermented through wheat koji, it has good health benefits for your digestive tract. Its refreshing taste makes it a must-have for every Ueno Village meal.

By combining all the above-mentioned ingredients, you can create a classic local dish, Inobuta Nabe/Inobuta Hot Pot (猪豚鍋)! By mixing in boar-pig pork and shiitake mushrooms into a miso-based soup, you can experience the full flavors that this dish has to offer you.

You can enjoy Ueno Village’s traditional dishes and foods at Michi-no-eki Ueno (道の駅うえの), Shioji no yu (しおじの湯), and Menya Jyukkoku (麺屋十石). They are foods your taste buds will never forget!

 Inobuta Nabe (Inobuta Hot Pot)

What do you recommend to buy as a souvenir?

The most popular souvenir by far is Jyukkoku miso. However, we understand that carrying miso around with you on your travels isn’t exactly convenient. This is why we recommend Jyukkoku Miso Soup (十石みそしる), which is an instant miso soup that you can prepare by simply adding hot water.

Inobuta curry (猪豚カレー) is also one of our popular items. It’s filled with so much meat that you wouldn’t imagine this product was a boil-in-the-bag item!

If you want to enjoy Ueno Village’s local products, enhance your vacation by taking some Jyukkoku Misoshiru and inobuta curry with you as you go!

Jukkoku Miso Soup (Instant) / Inobuta Curry Source (Japanese Curry)

Does Ueno have any special festivals?

From spring to summer, there are quite a number of festivals that take place. Out of these, the lowering of the omikoshi (御神輿) float in Okawase Sage Jinji (お川瀬下げ神事) stands out the most.

Carrying an ‘Omikoshi float’ is considered a very important tradition in Japanese festivals. In this ritual, those who carry the omikoshi must bite onto a piece of paper in their mouths to avoid breathing on the float while carrying the omikoshi and placing it on a stone in the river. The purpose of biting a piece of paper is to preserve the sanctity and to show how determined and serious those who carry the float are.

Okawase Sage Jinji is an event held dear by the locals, and it’s even an opportunity for locals to build trust with one another. For the observer, it’s a great chance to experience a revered tradition in a religious setting.

Okawase Sage Jinji festival in Ueno Village

Okawase Sage Jinji

Is there anything special for those traveling with kids?

There are several places for families to enjoy the area.

 In the Tenku-Kairou area, you have the Fujido Limestone Cave (鍾乳洞不二洞), the Ueno Sky Bridge (上野スカイブリッジ), Forest Adventure Ueno (フォレストアドベンチャー・上野), cottages, camping grounds, and glamping, all of which is tailored towards families. You can have lots of fun out in nature and enjoy camping.

Next, you have the Kawa no eki area. Here you can find Mori no Taikenkan (森の体験館) and fishing spots. Kids can enjoy crafting activities and catching fish. It’s a great way to have fun while in close proximity to nature.

Lastly, we have the Michi-no-eki Ueno (道の駅上野) area. In this area, you have the forestry education facility Morikko (森っ子), the Katsuyama hiking trail (勝山ハイキングコース), and the Kelner playground equipment. Children can have fun by immersing themselves in nature and going on adventures! Going on an adventure in the forest would make for a great experience for kids.

Morino Instant House (at Mahoba no mori) / Katsuyama hiking trail

Do you have a hidden gem?

The first place that comes to mind when I think of hidden gems is the Nakanosawa Headwaters Nature Walking Trail (中之沢源流域自然散策路).

This place is off-limits to all vehicles, and you’re only allowed to enter with a vehicle if you have received special permission.

The trail is about 12.6km long, and there are restroom facilities and rest areas along the trail. Here, you can safely explore nature.

A particularly noteworthy sight is Oborokaya Falls (オボロカヤの滝). Oborokaya is an Ainu word meaning “Water Puddle”. Its deific appearance is incredible, and captivates all who come to see it. The intense flow of the waterfall, in addition to the calm surrounding environment, creates a special experience for visitors.

As a place where one is able to take in the beauty and mystery of nature, Nakanosawa Headwaters Nature Walking Trail is well-known by both locals and visitors alike.

Nakanosawa Headwaters Nature Walking Trail / Oborokaya Falls

Final Thoughts

It was amazing to discover all about the nature filled Ueno Village and all it has to offer!

Once more, I learned so much and I was especially impressed by all the activities available to visitors. I am looking forward to having Inobuta hot pot on my next visit!

I hope this interview helped you learn about the different things (off-the-beaten-track areas!) that are only a short trip from Tokyo  I am sure if you visit you will enjoy Ueno!

How to get to Ueno Village

Approx 3 hours from Tokyo by train. Take the Shinkansen train to JR Takasaki and change to Joshin Dentetsu line to Shimonita. From Shimonita take. a taxi (30 min).

If driving it is also around 3 hours. Take the Joshinetsu Expressway and get off at Shimonita IC and drive another 40 min.

Further useful information

Read these articles to plan your trip!


Did you find this article useful?

I hope you enjoyed reading about this hidden gem just north of Tokyo, if you would like to know more about fun things to do and travel ideas, please continue to have a look at our must-see / must do things nearby Tokyo page.

To book unique activities in English, please see the Nearby Tokyo experience page.

Profile photo rowing a boat on Lake Haruna in GUnma
Contributor:  Angus Miyaji Founder of Nearby Tokyo and Japan World Link, Angus helps visitors discover off the beaten track destinations in the North Kanto regions (Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki & Saitama north of Tokyo). He regularly travels between Japan and the UK promoting tourism and Japanese sake.
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