Shiga-highland Biosphere Reserve

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Shiga-highland Biosphere Reserve is covered with volcanic ejecta from volcanos such as Mt. Shiga and Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane, and has many lakes, marshes and wetlands with a rich diversity of flora and fauna.
Since the past, people have created and passed down their own local industries, food culture, traditional crafts, etc., by taking good care of local resources and utilizing them.
We are promoting the creation of a society where nature and human beings coexist in harmony in order to protect and effectively utilize these “heritages" and pass them on to the next generation.

Expansion approval
Constituent Municipalities
Yamanouchi and Takayama of Nagano prefecture,
Nakanojo, Tsumagoi and Kusatsu of Gunma prefecture

About our logo

This design is based on the magnificent scenery of Shiga-highland Biosphere Reserve, with a view of Mount Shiga over the 48 ponds and marshlands on a wooden path.

The Three areas of Shiga-highland Biosphere Reserve

In order to achieve the objective of the Biosphere Reserve, which is "symbiosis between nature and human society," three areas have been designated as Eco Park areas.
There are three areas: the core area, where nature is heavily protected; the buffer area, which surrounds the core area; and the transition area, where we live and conduct economic activities. We are working to make the most of the characteristics of these three areas.

Shiga Kogen BR zoning diagram

Core Area

This is the area around Mt. Shiga, which forms an exceptional mountain landscape symbolizing the Shiga Highlands. On the lava plateau, primeval forests of subalpine coniferous trees spread out.
This is a specially protected area of the national park, which is the most important area for the conservation of biodiversity as it is almost untouched by human influence and preserves nature.

(Primary Activities)

Seed production investigation
Research training (otanomosu-daira)

Buffer Area

This area is set up to surround the core area. It is designed to promote understanding of the conservation and sustainable use of nature through environmental education, outdoor activities, research, leisure and tourism.
The Yoshigadaira Wetlands were registered as a Ramsar site in 2015, and efforts are being made to conserve the natural environment and ensure its wise use.

(Primary Activities)

Environmental studies program
Invasive alien plant extermination activities
ABMORI (tree planting program)

Transition Area

Sustainable community development such as environment-friendly agriculture, renewable energy use, nature restoration projects, and education for sustainable development (ESD) are being carried out without damaging the natural environment.

(Primary Activities)

Road heating using hot spring heat
Fruit tree cultivation
Soba noodle making experience
Click here for other activities

General introduction to the comprising municipalities

The Shiga-Highland Bio Sphere Reserve is comprised of 5 municipalities spanning across 2 prefectures; Yamanaouchi Town and Takayama Village of Nagano prefecture, and Kusatsu Town, Tsuamagoi Village and Nakanojo Town of Gunma prefecture.
It is important to preserve the traditions, culture, nature and food protected by each municipality for the next generation and beyond.


Yamanouchi Town is located in the center of Joshin’etsukogen National Park with 3 major areas of Shiga Kogen(Highlands), Yudanaka-Shibu Hot Spring Resorts and Kita-Shiga Kogen. Shiga Kogen bolsters mountain ranges that are 2000m above sea level with majestic views, and clear and beautiful rivers. Yudanaka-Shibu Hot Spring Resorts has been visited for 1300 years and has a very beautiful townscape. Kita-Shiga Kogen allows visitors to take in the beauty of a natural and traditional scenery of Japan. On top of these areas, Jigokudani Yaen Koen (Snow Monkey Park) has been popular with foreign tourists in recent years and is known as one of the must visit tourist spots.
Yamanouchi Town is also known for its delicious and high quality fruit that is produced with the mineral rich snowmelt from Shiga-Highland Bio Sphere Reserve, the temperature fluctuation between day and night and the difference in elevation. The town is also known for its soba and mushrooms.

Click here for details on Yamanouchi Town


This mountain village has a total area of 98.56㎢, 85% of which is forest and wilderness, and much of the forest area is designated as Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, which is full of nature. There are eight hot springs in the village, including the Yamada Hot Spring, which has a history of more than 200 years. Tourist can also enjoy the weeping cherry trees known as the "Five Great Cherry Trees" in the spring and the autumn leaves in the Matsukawa Valley in the fall.
Takayama Village is also well known for its high quality apples, grapes and wine grapes throughout Japan due to the inland climate, with its large diurnal variation in temperature throughout the year, and the well-drained soil of the fan-shaped terrain, allow for the cultivation of fruit trees.
The village has enacted the "Earth-Friendly Environment Basic Ordinance" and the "Takayama Village Landscape Ordinance" in order to preserve the nature that has been carefully protected and to protect the original landscape of the farming and mountain villages for future generations. It has also become a member of “The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan”

Click here for details on Takayama Village


The Yoshigadaira Wetlands are a vast and outstanding wetland area that stretches across the towns of Nakanojo and Kusatsu in northwestern Gunma Prefecture, and was registered as a Ramsar site on May 28, 2015. Yoshigadaira Marsh, Ohira Marsh, Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane Yugama (hot crater lake), Heibei Pond, Oike Pond, Mizuike Pond, and Chatsubomi-moss Park Anajigoku (Holes of Hell) are located between 1,200m and 2,150m above sea level. It is a marshy area with wonderful scenery from spring to autumn, and the large colonies of Chatsubomigoke (Jungermannia vulcanicola) that grow in the strongly acidic environment are one of the largest in East Asia.
In the Nakanjo town Rikugo area, there are many tourist attractions such as Lake Nozori, a treasure trove of alpine plants, camping and fishing, Yamanokami Garden, Old Oshi Station (Railway Park), Akaiwa (an important preservation district of historic buildings), Shiriyaki Onsen, Hanashiki Onsen, and Otoku Onsen at Roadside Station Rikugo. The Rikugo area of Nakanojo Town is a tourist destination where visitors can enjoy the abundance of nature including alpine plants and hot springs.

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Kusatsu Town, located in the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, is on a plateau at an altitude of 1,200 meters in the northwestern part of Gunma Prefecture, covering an area of 49.75 km2, and is a town of tourism with nearly 90% of the population engaged in tertiary industry.
Mt. Shirane is home to Yugama (Hot Crater Lake), one of the three largest crater lakes in Japan, and Mt. Honshirane is a treasure trove of alpine plants that show a variety of expressions from season to season. Many events are held to take full advantage of this magnificent nature.
Turning our focus to the hot spring resort area, we can see that it has been famous since ancient times as one of the best sightseeing spots in Japan, boasting an abundance of high-quality hot spring water and magnificent nature. A row of hotels, inns, and souvenir stores surround the central yubatake (hot spring area where mineral deposits are harvested), and the streets and alleys that extend from it form the framework of the town.

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Tsumagoi Village has an average elevation of 1000 meters and is surrounded by 3 of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains; Mt. Asama, Mt. Azumaya and Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane. Due to its high elevation and high daily temperature fluctuations, it boast the largest amount of summer and autumn-grown cabbage produced.
The name “Tsumagoi” originates from the legend of Yamato Takeru (12th Emperor of Japan) and the village is also known as a place for devoted husbands. The summers are cool and the powder snow in winter is great. There are many different onsens (hot spring) with various types of hot springs in each area to choose from. Manza onsen which is located in the Shiga Highlands Biosphere Reserve at an elevation of 1800 meters as part of Takayama Onsen, is especially popular for woman as the Sulphur springs is highly concentrated and is said to have natural skin cleansing qualities.
Additionally, with the Manza Nature Center and Manza onsen ski resort, there is a lot of nature to see and experience throughout the year.

Click here for more information about Tsumagoi Village