COVID-19 Information

Nagano Prefecture alert level map from the Nagano Prefectural Government COVID-19 information portal, April 21. The Suwa area remains at Level 5. The Nagano, Saku, Hokushin and Upper Ina areas are at Level 4, with the rest of the prefecture at 3.

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

Recent updates:

  • April 21: The Nagano area has been lowered to Level 4 (announcement), and the Ueda area to Level 3 (announcement).
  • April 19: The governor’s office has issued requests to residents for Golden Week, asking to evaluate the necessity of travel, avoid areas with high rates of infection, and limit social interaction and group activities.
  • April 16: The Suwa area has been raised to Level 5 (announcement).
  • April 14: The Nagano area has been raised to Level 5, and Suwa and Hokushin to Level 4 (announcement).
  • April 13: The Upper Ina area has been raised to Level 4 (announcement).
  • April 8: Nagano has raised areas across the prefecture to Level 3, and the Nagano area to Level 5. In addition, the government has issued a Medical Care Alert (医療警報, iryo keiho) highlighting the need to adhere to safety precautions to avoid strain on the burdened medical system. Details on the Medical Care Alert are available in Japanese here.

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

  • Follow Nagano Prefecture’s New Lifestyle Guidelines
    • Avoid high-risk behaviors (talking while eating with others, etc.)
    • Follow preventative measures 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 April 20.

Total confirmed cases in Nagano Prefecture: 3,580
Discharged patients: 3,176
Active cases: 394

Inpatients (by health center): Hokushin (37), Iida (3), Ina (19), Kiso (0), Matsumoto (26), Matsumoto City (17)*, Omachi (4), Nagano (62), Nagano City (87), Saku (21), Suwa (106), Ueda (12)

*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).

Hi all,

As most of you already know, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Nagano Prefecture on February 25, 2020. While the Prefectural Government has been updating its homepage with various resources regarding the novel coronavirus, most of the information is in Japanese, so we have summarized it here, and provided links to other resources as well.

Latest entry and re-entry updates (updated February 17):

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has updated their entry restrictions and procedures descriptions, reflecting a temporary moratorium on new entries into Japan. Please read this page (EN), if you absolutely must travel outside of Japan for details about the conditions for re-entry for current residents.

All current residents re-entering the country will require:

  • A copy of a Written Pledge documenting quarantine plans, available here (EN)
  • Certification of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of departure. A suggested format, as well as necessary details for care providers using their own format, are available here (EN).

All returning residents will be required to follow through with a 14-day quarantine at home or another location. Those returning from the UK, South Africa, Ireland, Israel, or Brazil will be required to spend three days at a designated quarantine facility, and may then spend the remainder of the quarantine at home pending an additional COVID-19 test on the third day.

As you will not be able to use public transportation during your quarantine period, please be sure to arrange private transportation back to your home from the airport before departure. For those returning from the UK, South Africa, Ireland, Israel, or Brazil, you will need to arrange transportation for the fourth day after landing.

Those unable to provide a negative test result will be moved to a designated quarantine facility upon landing (JP, EN). Failure to comply with quarantine rules may result in revocation of visa, so please make sure you and your contracting organization have made plans prior to your departure.

If you are a current JET considering international travel, we highly encourage you to contact your Block Leader or the PAs in advance.

Topics covered:
(Click the links below to jump to a section)

1. Prevention
 ・Social Distancing and Masks
2. Misinformation and Disinformation
3. Consultations
4. Quarantine/Self-isolation Guidelines
5. Resources and Support
6. FAQ and Further Reading

We will continue to update this page as new information is released.

– The PA Team

Last updated on April 22, 2021

Continue reading “COVID-19 Information”

Toshin Virtual NagaYes: Among Us

This could be you!

Are you up for testing your truth detection skills? Are you willing to lie to your friends to convince them that no, you didn’t murder Blue even though you killed Purple? Are you brave enough to find out who your friends really are? Then come join us for several rounds of Among Us for our virtual NagaYes!

What: Toshin Virtual NagaYes: Among Us Edition (Online)


When: April 24th, 2021 (Sat), 4pm-6pm

Continue reading “Toshin Virtual NagaYes: Among Us”

Yuru-chara and You: Nanshin’s Guide to Local Mascots

When I received my placement email five years ago and saw that I would be living in Takagi Village, naturally, the first thing I did was Google it. Nothing came up. That was worrying but I tried again this time in Japanese, which yielded a few results. And the main result that piqued my interest was a music video featuring the village’s mascots, Berry-chan and Go-kun. It was this video with its catchy song, cute characters, and local people that eased my worries and had me excited to move to my new home. It even inspired me to buy a blazer with strawberries on it before the trip! This is the power of Yuru-chara (ゆるキャラ), Japan’s mascot characters.

Yuru-chara were created to promote places, events, and businesses. The name is a contraction of three words: yurui mascot character. Yurui (緩い) can mean quite a few things but in this case, it describes the mascots as soft, gentle, light-hearted, weak, and laid-back. The term Yuru-chara is even trademarked by its creator, cartoonist Jun Miura and the publishing company Fusosha. Most often, they are local mascots, also referred to as gotōchi-chara (ご当地キャラ) (gotta avoid that trademarked name!). There are even guidelines for their creation:

  1. It must convey a strong message of love for one’s hometown.
  2. Its movements should be unique and unstable or awkward.
  3. It should be unsophisticated or laid-back and lovable.

And they are a huge business! In 2012, sales driven by the characters reached nearly $12 billion. Having a popular Yuru-chara can generate a lot of tourism and income for an area. And popularity is important considering there is a literal popularity contest held each year called the “Yuru-chara® Grand Prix”. Our very own prefectural mascot, Arukuma, took away the top prize in 2019! While I’m sure we all know Arukuma by now and everyone is familiar with the mascots in their own areas, I’d like to introduce you to some of Nanshin’s mascots, particularly those belonging to the areas inhabited by JETs.

Continue reading “Yuru-chara and You: Nanshin’s Guide to Local Mascots”

JLPT Summer 2021 Registration and Grant

Thinking about putting the Japanese skills you’ve been polishing to the test this year?

The JLPT, Japanese Language Proficiency Test, is once again being offered with summer and winter testing dates.

Measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have led to a small testing fee increase compared to previous years. However, the CLAIR-sponsored JLPT grant offered to those those who pass the N3, N2 or N1 levels of the test will still cover the full amount.

If you’re interested, please see the details below!

Continue reading “JLPT Summer 2021 Registration and Grant”

Submissions Open! – 16th Annual “Nagano International Perspective” Photo Exhibit


Each year, the Nagano CIRs collect photos showcasing international residents’ favorite things about life in Nagano, or introducing home cultures, and display them in photo exhibits throughout the prefecture. Through these exhibits, participants can share the beauty they see in Nagano, and viewers can gain both intercultural understanding and new perspectives on the areas around them. Our goal is to connect communities through our photos.

This year, out of consideration for the ongoing pandemic, we will be displaying the photos and encouraging participation online, as well as hosting a weeklong display in the Nagano Prefectural Government Office entryway to promote the event.

Continue reading “Submissions Open! – 16th Annual “Nagano International Perspective” Photo Exhibit”

PoC in Nagano Series: Se-Gil Feldsott

Mixing it Up

My name is Se-Gil Louis Feldsott, and I’m 31 years old. I came to Kiso, Nagano in August 2019, so I’ve been here about 1.5 years now. Like many of you, I often get the question of “why did you come to Japan?” I have some similar reasons as many of my ALT peers, but one big reason is that I’m half Japanese. My mother was born and raised in Shizuoka.

Growing up in South Carolina, there wasn’t a huge Asian population around me. I was one of the only “Asian” kids at my schools but still had to explain to just about everyone I met about my ethnic background because I didn’t “look” Asian. But honestly, I didn’t struggle much with racial identity issues. If anything, I felt being half Japanese was cool and unique. Apart from that and my unusual religious background (a story for another time), I did my best to blend in with my peers and found my place in the nerd crowd.

My parents during our visit to Shizuoka in June 2018.

Though I had Japanese influences throughout my life that most kids wouldn’t experience, I didn’t feel myself to be “very Japanese.” I couldn’t speak the language, save a few childish phrases like baka and oshiri penpen. I had never visited Japan with the exception of my visit when I was one year old. I knew relatively little about the culture and history besides a few dishes from my mom’s cooking and a couple sporadically celebrated traditions. If you count watching Dragon Ball Z and collecting Pokémon cards, then I get some credit there, too.

Continue reading “PoC in Nagano Series: Se-Gil Feldsott”

Go, Go, Asamayama Hakkei!

Standing at 2,568 meters tall and gently puffing plumes of smoke throughout the year, Mt. Asama is one of the most famous landmarks here in Nagano. At this time of writing, its snow-capped mountains can be seen from various points of the prefecture, where it stands tall in the backdrop or as a tiny speck of white in the far-off distance. Known as Japan’s most active volcano on Honshu, Mt. Asama is just as much as a constant presence in the prefecture as Nagano city’s Zenkouji and Hakuba’s ski resorts.

Continue reading “Go, Go, Asamayama Hakkei!”

Now Accepting 2021-22 BL Applications!

Hello Nagano JETs!

We’re excited to announce the opening of the 2021-22 Block Leader application process! If you would like to be more involved in JET community events and help share your knowledge for new and returning JETs alike, this is your chance!

We are seeking Block Leaders who are dependable, organized, friendly, available in emergencies, and who have ideas for improving their blocks and the JET community in Nagano. Returning Block Leaders must also reapply.

The position is well-supported, so if you are enthusiastic about the opportunity to be part of a positive experience for other JETs, give it a shot!

Continue reading “Now Accepting 2021-22 BL Applications!”

Hindsight is 2020 Chushin Nagayes

Another successful virtual NagaYes is in the books! This time, we hosted trivia night with questions centering around the positive, fun news and events of 2020. We started the evening on the 7th February off wearing some silly items to really get us in the spirit of the quiz. Various hats and glasses and other objects were adorned and the quiz was set to begin.

The three teams who hoped to win the Quiz were Team Octoberfest: Brigitta, Nathan, and Sarah; Team Jade: John, Aly, Dara, and Ehlana; and Team vs Mechagodzilla: Zach, Jonathan, and Ian.

Team names were assigned. The first picture was taken. The trivia party was ready to begin! The first category of the evening was “The World”. Teams would have to remember good news that happened from around the World in 2020 and try to remember things from the obscure to the well known.

Team vs Mechagodzilla started the first round well, along with team Octoberfest, but by the end of the first round, Team Jade had taken the lead with 11 out of 16 questions correct. It turns out Team Jade are avid readers of the news and like to keep up with current events! The collective favourite good news story from the round was about the recently elected Mayor of a town called Idyllwild in the US, a dog called Mayor Max II.

Continue reading “Hindsight is 2020 Chushin Nagayes”

Lunar New Year 2021 – Year of the Ox

This month, I will explore general Lunar New Year traditions with some more specific contributions from Amy Lim (Singapore), Vikki Nguyen (Canada), and Li Ni (China). Amy will provide insight on Singaporean customs while Vikki will comment on her personal experiences with Chinese and Vietnamese customs in Canada, and Li-san will talk about customs from her hometown in China.

Continue reading “Lunar New Year 2021 – Year of the Ox”

Hindsight is 2020: Chushin Virtual NagaYes

Happy New Year y’all! As we start thinking about the upcoming year and all we want to accomplish, how about we start with some reflection? And by that, I mean (mostly positive) trivia about Japan in 2020! Do you know who won the US Open last year? Kept up with Japan’s movie box office records? Put away the Googles and bring your A-game from the comfort of your kotatsu.

Continue reading “Hindsight is 2020: Chushin Virtual NagaYes”