'Shinano-town',（信濃町 Shinano-machi） is located in the northern part of Nagano prefecture, on the border of Niigata. There are approximately 9600 people who live in Shinano. As of March 2009, there are six elementary schools and one junior high school within town lines. However, starting in 2011, all schools in Shinano will be merging into a single K-8 facility which will be housed in a new building. Shinano's ALT works at the Junior High School. There are several districts within the township: Kurohime, Kashiwabara, Furuma, Furumi and Noijiri-ko are the largest. There are teachers housing units in all districts.
Shinano is a famous resort town, known especially for the clean waters of Lake Noijiriko, which in the summer time is perfect for swimming, boating, fishing, water-skiing, kayaking and other activities. There are many foreigners who own cottages around the lake in an area known as the International village and the Nojiri Lake Association (NLA). There are also plenty of opportunities for mountain biking in the area. Shinano is surrounded by five mountains, Myoko, Kurohime, Togakushi, Iizuna and Madaro. These mountains are perfect for hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking in the summer, and provide endless skiing opportunities at over 8 resorts in the winter. Shinano is also relatively close to the ocean. Niigata beaches can be reached in under two hours from Shinano.
There are three supermarkets (2XDaiichi Super, 1XNagano Agricultural Co-op), a chain drug store (Nakajima), a clothing outlet (Shimamura) and various stores along the main street in Nagano (Route 18 runs through the town). There is also a hospital and dentist in the town. Most areas in Shinano are capable of receiving fiber-optic internet services. Municipal water is supplied by underground springs and nearby rivers. There are a number of ramen and soba restaurants in Shinano, as the town is known throughout Japan for its quality Soba noodles. There are also many traditional Japanese pubs (Izikayas) in Shinano. Other essential services include an electronics store, 2 convience stores (7-11), ski rental shops, and numberous boating shops around Lake Nojiri. There are two train stations. There are many inns (pensions) both in the mountains by Kurohime and at Nojiri Lake. There is an expressway interchange in Shinano.
From Tokyo, board the Nagano shinkansen line at either Tokyo or Ueno station. The full journey (from Tokyo to Nagano city) lasts approximately 1.5 hours and costs 7100 yen at present time. From the Nagano city train station, the Shinetsu Line will take you up to Shinano (this train usually leaves from Platform 7 twice and hour). The journey is 40 minutes and costs 450 yen. If you are getting to Shinano by car, there are essentially two ways to reach Shinano town. The first is to take Route 18 heading northwards out of Nagano City until you reach Shinano town. The drive takes about 40 minutes each direction. Traffic can be quite bad on route 18 in both directions. Therefore, the second option is much faster. From the train station, head north on the Nagano Odori street, which will turn into Route 37. You will see signs for Iizuna-kogen and Togakushi. Stay on this road as it winds up through the mountains and passes through a tunnel. You will pass Iizuna town once you exit the tunnel. Stay on Route 37 as it snakes around the hills. Once you have passed two hairpin turns, the road will straighten. Keep going for another 500 meters or so until you see a sign pointing to Shinano-machi and Route 18. Make a right at that road and continue for approximatly 1 kilometer. You will reach an intersection at Route 18. Make a left and soon you will be in Shinano-machi.