Stargazing Tour in Central Japan Gaining Popularity (News)


Achi, Nagano Pref., May 16 (Jiji Press)—Alarmed by a steep decline in the popularity of local hot springs, tourism industry people in Achi closely reviewed what their village could offer to visitors and arrived at the starry skies, which they had long taken for granted.

Launched in 2012, a stargazing tour in Achi, a central Japan village selected by a government survey as the best place for stargazing in the country, has caught on big.

Thanks to the tour, the village of 6,600 people in Nagano Prefecture now attracts some 110,000 visitors between April and October, when the tour is available.

"Three, two, one..." When the light went out after the countdown, visitors let out a sigh of amazement at the night sky overhead. The tour is conducted at the Heavens Sonohara ski resort, located at an altitude of 1,400 meters.

"I was so impressed to see stars that I can't usually see," said Jingūji Asami, a 27-year-old company employee from Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, who joined the tour for the first time. "I felt so close to the stars that I thought I'd left the Earth."

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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