Shinano no kuni
In general, any person from Nagano Prefecture can easily recite the prefectural song, "Shinano no kuni" (信濃の国). The lyrics were written in 1899 by Retsu Asai, a teacher at the Nagano Prefectural Normal School (presently the Shinshu University Faculty of Education) and a descendant of the former Matsumoto domain samurai family. The first verse is as follows:
shinano no kuni wa jushhuni sakaitsuranuru kuni ni shite sobiyuru yama wa iya takaku nagaruru kawa wa iya tooshi Matsumoto Ina Saku Zenkouji yotsu no taira wa hiyoku no chi umi koso nakere monosawani yorozutarawanu koto zonaki.
This song describes the special characteristics of the region, including Shinano's vastness, the four plains, and the richness of the region.
As the song indicates, the different regions of Shinano were separated from one another by rivers and mountains, and each area had its own unique culture. The abolition of feudal domains in Japan led to the establishment of the prefectures. With the subsequent reorganization of 1871, Shinano was divided into Nagano Prefecture with a prefectural office in Nagano, and Chikuma Prefecture, which was governed from Matsumoto. In 1876, after the Chikuma prefectural office was destroyed in a fire, the former Shinano Kuni area, that had been under the control of Chikuma Prefecture, was then incorporated into Nagano Prefecture. However, there was a lack of unity between the citizens of these prefectures, and the song depicts the various areas of the prefecture as distinct landscapes, and refers to the region by its old name --"Shinano" -- rather than by the newly appointed name of Nagano.
It was because of this historical background that the University was given the name "Shinshu" to symbolize the unification of these prefectural regions.