LOCAL TRANSPORTATION IN AZUMINO, HOTAKA IN MATSUMOTO AREA
So, you’ve made it to Azumino, the gateway to the Japan Alps and home of Daio Wasabi Farm! If you have some time to spare, there is plenty to see in the city including many art museums, hot springs, historic sightseeing spots, and the picturesque countryside itself. Here are the different options you can use to explore and get around the city.
Cycling is perhaps the most fun and satisfying way to see the Azumino area. You can bike through the rice paddies and small farms, enjoying a panoramic view of the stunning Japan Alps as you make your way around to different destinations in the city.
As for renting bikes, you have a few options, which are all located right by Azumino’s central train station, JR Hotaka Station. The area is fairly flat, but if you are worried about getting tired from cycling or going up some of the minor slopes, each rental cycle service offers electric-assist bikes (e-bikes) that make longer rides much easier! Be sure to grab a cycling map at the Tourist Information Center by the Station or at one of the rental shops.
Shinano-an is a rental shop located right down the main street from the station (about a two-minute walk). This shop offers the widest selection of bicycle types. Here you can rent standard bikes, e-bikes, kid’s bikes, mountain bikes, sports bikes, and even tandems! The rates start from ¥200 per hour for standard bikes and ¥300 per hour for e-bikes and sports bikes. You can store your luggage at the shop for if needed or even get it delivered to a hotel in Azumino for free. The shop owner speaks English, so you can ask for advice and recommendations.
Hours: 8:00 to sunset (Closed from mid-December to mid-March)
Hitsujiya is a cafe and bike rental shop located directly across the roundabout from Hotaka Station. This shop offers standard bikes, e-bikes, kid’s bikes, and mountain bikes. The rates start from ¥300 per hour for standard bikes, ¥400 per hour for e-bikes, and ¥500 per hour for mountain bikes. The rental fee includes liability insurance, which is a nice plus. Hitsujiya also offers free luggage storage.
Hours: 8:30 to 18:00 (10:00 to 17:00 in winter)
Hello Cycling is a share-cycle service that can be used via a smartphone app. The app does require a credit card and is currently only available in Japanese, but the staff at the Tourist Information Center will be happy to help you sign up so you can use the bikes. These bikes can be rented from and dropped off at several share-cycle points around the city. All bikes are e-bikes for easy riding and are equipped with a basket.
Azumino Taxi Coupons
If you plan on going to a few places within the Azumino area but do not want to rent a bicycle, Azumino’s special taxi coupons are a great option. The coupons can be purchased at the Tourist Information Center by Hotaka Station in a set of three or four coupons. Each coupon can be then used to take a taxi to one of the almost 60 specified tourist destinations. When you are done at one destination, call the next taxi to get to the next place you want to go (use the last remaining coupon to get back to the station).
Taxi Coupon packs range in price from ¥4,200 to ¥15,840 depending on the number of coupons and the furthest location you wish to travel to. You can get details on the exact locations you can choose from and pricing at the Tourist Information Center.
Azumino also has a convenient sightseeing bus that operates during peak tourism seasons: Golden Week at the beginning of May, and from July to early November. There are three different routes and each bus runs in a loop around the city to the most popular locations including the Daio Wasabi Farm, various shrines and temples, and many of the art museums. The fare for one ride is ¥600 for adults and ¥300 for children, or you can purchase an all-day pass for ¥1,000 for adults and ¥500 for children. See specific details in this English PDF.
↑ The Hachimen Daio stone carving at Azumino’s public hot spring footbath