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COVID-19 Information

Nagano Prefecture alert level map from the Nagano Prefectural Government COVID-19 information portal, September 27. The Ueda area is at Level 4, the Nagano area is at Level 3, the Suwa, Upper Ina and Matsumoto areas are at Level 2, and the rest of the prefecture is at 1. The following cities are at Level 5 independent of their regional level: Ueda, Suwa, Chino.

The Nagano Prefecture alert levels are: Level 5 – Special Warning II (purple), Level 4 – Special Warning (red), Level 3 – Warning (orange), Level 2 – Advisory (yellow), and Level 1 (white).

In the above map, the top table displays each region (left) next to its new case numbers within the past week (right of alert level) and approximate cases per 100,000 population (far right), for the date range listed at the bottom. The bottom table displays the same information for neighboring prefectures, with Nagano Prefecture as a whole in gray at the bottom.


Recent Updates:

  • Sept. 27: The prefecture has ended its blanket Level 4 alert level (announcement).
  • Sept. 16: Suwa City and Chino City, as well as Ueda City, have been raised to Level 5.
  • Sept. 14: The Medical System Alert has been lifted (announcement).
  • Sept. 13: The prefecture has lowered its blanket Alert Level to Level 4, and ended the Medical System Emergency for a Medical System Alert (announcement).

In addition, Nagano asks the following of residents throughout the prefecture:

  • Follow Nagano Prefecture’s New Lifestyle Guidelines:
    • Avoid high-risk behavior (talking while eating with others, etc.)
    • Follow safety protocols in place at businesses
  • If you are concerned about a fever or other possible symptoms, contact your designated health center (See Consultations below)
  • Follow precautions at work
Prefectural case numbers by health center as of September 26.

Total confirmed cases in Nagano Prefecture: 8,689
Discharged patients: 8,501
Active cases: 147

Inpatients (by health center): Hokushin (0), Iida (1), Ina (20), Kiso (0), Matsumoto (8), Matsumoto City (12)*, Omachi (0), Nagano (4), Nagano City (38), Saku (2), Suwa (16), Ueda (26)

*Matsumoto City Health Center patients were included in Matsumoto (regional) Health Center totals until March 31, 2021.

  • View the most recent case information here (all areas but Nagano and Matsumoto cities), here (Nagano City), and here (Matsumoto City). (All JP.)
  • View all Nagano Prefecture case information here or here (official, JP) and here (unofficial, EN).

Curious about vaccine passports? More information available here.

Last updated on September 27, 2021

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Vaccine Passports

You may have heard of “vaccine passports,” government-issued proof of vaccination in Japan that can be submitted to customs in countries that require proof of vaccination for entry.

Although the passport applications share a general format, they are submitted through each village, town and city. As such, there may be small differences in the application process between locations. All application forms also come pre-addressed to their specific municipality. 

In this post, you will find a basic overview of required documents, as well as where to find the applications.

Who are vaccine passports for? Do I need one?

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Fantastic Fall Fruits and Where to Find Them

Colder temperatures have suddenly arrived in Nagano, putting many people in the fall spirit. While some of us may be heading out to our nearest Starbucks in search of that long-awaited Pumpkin Spice Latte, our minds are also focused on one of the other best parts of the season: fruit harvesting. Fall is one of the best seasons for fruit picking in Nagano, and Hokushin West has many wonderful farms and orchards for you to discover.

りんご Apples  🍎

Nagano is famous for its delicious fall apples!


A fruit so renowned in Nagano that our prefectural mascot wears one on his head, apples can be found in abundance throughout the region. In Hokushin West, one area in particular shines through as home to some of the best apple orchards. The Apple Line is a stretch of land spanning from Naganuma to Toyono, in the northeast corner of Nagano City. It is aptly named, and anyone in search of some good apple picking will come across several farms dedicated to that purpose.

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Call for Applicants for Substitute ALT Positions – Nagano Prefectural Board of Education

  1. Job Type: Assistant Language Teacher (ALT)
  2. Number of Positions Available: 1-4
  3. Workplace:
    • Base school: A Prefectural senior high school in the Hokushin (Nagano and Nakano) and Chushin (Kiso) area
    • Regular visit school(s): Prefectural senior high schools in the neighboring area
    • Irregular visit school(s): Prefectural special education schools in the neighboring area
    • Note: Base school: 3-4 days a week; Regular visit school: 1-2 day(s) a week; Irregular visit school: A few times a month
  4. Period of Contract:
    The duration of the appointment shall be from October 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021 or December 31, 2021, depending on the placement.

    *Please note this round of recruitment is for ALTs to work as substitutes for JET ALTs who cannot enter Japan at the moment due to entry restrictions. As such, contract extension may be possible depending on the situation.
  5. Work Terms and Conditions:
    • Remuneration: 280,000 yen/month (3,360,000 yen/year)
    • Compensation for income tax and inhabitants’ tax is not paid
    • Commuting expenses are provided
    • Housing allowance is not provided (although teacher housing may be available)
    • Working hours: 08:30 to 16:15
    • Break time: 12:15 to 13:00 *subject to change according to the schools’ daily schedule
    • Holidays: Saturdays, Sundays, national holidays, and New Year’s Holiday
    • Insurance provided: Health insurance, employee’s pension insurance, employment insurance, workers’ accident compensation insurance
    • Note: As for other work terms and conditions, the Terms and Conditions for JET Prefectural ALTs shall be applied. However, the JET Programme Accident Insurance will not be available.
Continue reading “Call for Applicants for Substitute ALT Positions – Nagano Prefectural Board of Education”

Nanshin Fantasy XIV: Leavers 2021

They had completed their expanded free trial of the 2.49-million player-base internationally popular massively multiplayer cultural exchange experience (MMCEE) Nagano JET Program XIV. They had collected equipment and upgraded each of their classes. They had reached the level cap.

They were: The Nagano JET Program XIV Nanshin Block server. The free trial content was over—it was time for a new expansion to begin.


The Party Members:

Jack, a second-year Roegadyn monk, boasting not only dependable physical presence and fists of steel, but a love of learning that helped him polish his high DPS skills and master essential party buffs

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Natasha, a second-year Miqo’te bard, using her specie’s feline prowess and gift of gab to reach high places and boost the party’s strength and morale

Jasmine (Jaz), a graceful elven Elezen scholar who delighted the party with her cheerful attitudes, and also her fairy summons, whom she would often chase after on runs, obtained from classing up from Arcanist at Level 30

Sharon, an Au Ra white mage long in these lands who had guided and supported the party with her healing spells and wisdom. Also, she looked like a dragon, so there was that—very useful for entertaining young ones on Halloween


Where we last left OUR PARTY:

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Go to Travel…but locally!

It’s that time of the year that we have all been waiting for—namely, summer vacation! Even if travelling outside the prefecture is not safe, we can still discover lots of fascinating places around and go for a ride along the Koumi Line.

Spontaneous trainspotting in Saku area (taken by Natalia in July 2021)

The nickname of the Koumi Line is Yatsugatake Highland Line. It is a 78.9 km long East Japan Railway, connecting Kobuchizawa Station (Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture) to Komoro Station (Komoro City, Nagano Prefecture). It runs along the foot of the Yatsugatake range and the Nobeyama Plateau, which is over 1000 m above sea level.

Between Kiyosato Station and Nobeyama Station, there is the highest point of any JR Railway with an altitude of 1375m. Nobeyama Station is at the highest altitude of all JR stations (1345.6 m), and a total of nine stations that are in the TOP 10 of JR station for altitude.

All together there are 31 stations along the Koumi Line which offer a variety of landscapes, local food and fun experience to explore not to mention the stamps you can add to your collection. Although we are all going through difficult times, why not enjoy a bit of travelling on a short but exciting solo trip?

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Hokushin East: My Hero Nagano

Our heroes have defeated Bowser and have appeased the Karaoke Gods. But now, a new challenge awaits them. 

One stormy night, our heroes are safely social distancing and partying online. While the crew is chatting and playing games, a third party joins the Zoom call. After a few minutes, the host notices them. Their name is a string of numbers, and their video is turned off. The host asks, “Who’s joined us?” 

In response, the new arrival laughs sinisterly. “I am here!”

Just then, in a strange (and conveniently coincidental) series of circumstances, lightning strikes all of our heroes’ homes simultaneously. 

The lights go out. 

And turn back on. 

Our heroes proceed to freak out as they realize they’re no longer in their homes. They’re in a new room, surrounded by strangers. “Where am I?” calls out one person. “Who are you people?” calls calls out another.

“I’m Patrick,” a man with a bird head says. His clothes are black, and a seemingly sentient shadow hovers behind him. 

What?!” the group shouts. Upon realizing the people in the room are actually our heroes, everyone reveals who they are. Alexandra has changed into a cool looking girl with short hair. Earphone jacks dangle from her earlobes. Lex is entirely invisible save for a pair of gloves and boots. Ryan is wearing ostentatious knight armor, and engines jut out of his shoulders and calves.

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Chushin Leavers 2021

An Adventure of Holding Cells and Hellhounds: So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

A recap of our Farewell Dungeons and Dragons Game

Four world-class adventurers from different worlds found themselves mysteriously awakened together in a holding facility in the Central Region of a large island with six others with no memory of what happened to them, and none of their valuable tools they have depended on through their many journeys beside them. These gallant wanderers were…

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Shinshu Ressha Hen – Hokushin West 2021 Leavers

One dark night in the central mountains of Japan, six of the world’s greatest sword wielders gathered at a train station. Each of these warriors had accomplished their missions across the region, vanquishing demons and passing down the traditions of their home countries on to the youth of Japan. Each of these assignments had required years of work, and some stayed longer than others. They formed strong bonds with local residents and other foreign warriors, and many grew to love Japan.

But in the end, it was time for all of them to head out on their next great mission. Crows were sent to each of them, bearing tickets to their home countries and orders to set them on their future paths. So each of our great warriors strapped on their swords, packed their bags, and tearfully bid farewell to their communities. They all assembled at the train station, where they waited for the train that would ferry them on to their next great adventures with feelings of excitement, but also sadness for what they were leaving behind.

Hokushin West Hashira
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Toshin Leavers 2021

The citizens of Ueda cried out in surprised and wept as a mass of spaceships came down upon them. The sky was engulfed by the purple light that the space ships emitted, the clouds spreading out from Ueda to cover the surrounding towns. The biggest ship among them flew towards Ueda Castle. The bystanders stood frozen in awe as the ship descended; some people were fearful, some were confused, others seemed emotionless.

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