Japan has some of the most beautiful destinations in the world, from the iconic view of Mt Fuji in Yamanashi to the picturesque Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima. Less well known but no less beautiful, Achi-mura in Nagano has a view that’s not to be missed. This small town is said to have one of the most spectacular views of the night sky in Japan and regularly hosts stargazing events. It currently holds a Guinness World Record for the most people stargazing in 2019.
The town’s Tenku no Rakuen (‘Paradise in the Sky’) Night Tour is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, taking visitors up to the Heavens Sonohara ski resort in the Fujimidai Highlands. From the resort, you'll ride the Fujimidai Kogen Ropeway to the area's highest point, which stands at 1,400 metres above sea level.
From April 17 2021 to March 26 2022 (except May 23 to July 9, September 26 to October 8, November 24 to December 23 and January 11 to 21 2022), the event will include music, videos, animation and games.
There are three different locations on the tour. The Star Guide Area is the primary places for visitors to stargaze while lying on the grass. There's also a special Healing Area, available from May 1 to November 23, which includes access to reclining chairs and sofas for an additional ¥1,800. Finally, the Entertainment Area is where all the special events will be held between April 17 and November 23.
The starting time varies depending on the season, but the tour usually runs from 5pm to 9pm. During the tour, all the lights will go out for about 30 minutes (90 minutes in winter) to give you a chance to see the stars as clearly as possible. Tickets cost from ¥2,000 (¥1,000 for children) and include admission to the event and a roundtrip on the gondola. You can purchase tickets online two weeks in advance, or any time at one of the hotels listed on the official website.
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