Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Eyes of the World Focus on Nagano

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Eyes of the World Focus on Nagano

Article excerpt

Of apple orchards and soba noodles

At first blush, Nagano seems an unlikely setting for the Winter Olympics.

This city of 360,000, which rests at the base of the Japan alps at an elevation of 1,350 feet, is the southernmost site ever to host the winter Games. It's on the same latitude as San Francisco, and its average snowfall in February is only 1.5 inches. What's more, Nagano is remarkably uncrowded and sleepy for a Japanese city. Despite being roughly the size of Buffalo, Nagano is surrounded by open spaces, and there's no discotheque. The city's most famous landmark is the Zenko-ji temple, a 1,300-year-old structure built by Buddhist monks that lures about 7 million visitors annually. Nagano is best known for its apple orchards and its buckwheat - the chief ingredient in the region's trademark soba noodles. No shortage of building projects Japanese authorities have spent an estimated $13 billion to build venues and shore up infrastructure. …

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