That was my image of Nagano in the winter, covered in thick coats of snow, which appear suddenly after the long tunnel after Omiya.
Man, was I in for a surprise when visiting last New Years! After much thought about what to wear and how to layer, the temperatures were pretty much the same as Yokohama....sans snow.
First of all, many of their regional specialties are things I can actually eat (apples, peaches, soba and the fantastic oyaki). Oyaki, for the uninitiated, are chewy dumplings filled with all types of seasoned veggies. They are truly amazing, and on this trip I found a little store purveying an apple pie version!
Secondly, it is rather unpretentious. Like many mountainous, dangerously snowy and cold places, people tend to be a bit more practical. For instance, Nagano is the prefecture with the most uniform-less schools. Students can wear things that actually keep them warm (aka pants in winter for girls).