How to Get to Ueda & Bessho Onsen
Reaching Ueda from Tokyo, Karuizawa, Nagano, Toyama and Kanazawa is a simple journey thanks to the Hokuriku Shinkansen line running to those cities while connecting lines and regional limited express services also put it within easy reach of many other popular destinations. On this page you will find the following information:
As the former stronghold of the legendary Sanada clan, Ueda is a historically important city that blends the past and present beautifully as local residents endeavour to preserve their traditions. A place of quaint charms and nostalgia, good food, good drink and indulgent hot springs, it may be the long-told stories of samurais that lure you to Ueda but its everything else that will make you happy you came.
Easy to reach using the Hokuriku Shinkansen line and other regional services, Ueda is a destination unto itself and transit point for the onward journey to the hot spring town of Bessho Onsen. As such, the information below first explains how to get to Ueda followed by further information about how to then move onto Bessho.
25 Things to Do Around Ueda / Bessho Onsen & Where to Stay
Conveniently located between Nagano and Karuizawa, Ueda and the nearby hot …
For visitors wanting to explore Central Japan in the comfort and convenience of their own vehicle, we can arrange private charters to any regional destination – a great option for families and groups wanting to avoid the hassle of public transport. For further information, see ‘Book With Us! Nagano’s No.1 Tour & Charter Operator’ below. We hope that the following information is of assistance when planning your visit to Ueda and Bessho Onsen.
WHERE IS UEDA & BESSHO ONSEN?
Located approximately 40KM / 60 minutes drive to the south of Nagano City, Ueda is the third largest city in Nagano Prefecture. A historic and quaint city, Ueda is readily accessible from Nagano, Karuizawa, Tokyo – which lies around 210kn to the southeast – Toyama and Kanazawa thanks to the Hokuriku Shinkansen that services those and other stations. Once in Ueda, visitors will discover a historic and quaint town with lots of charm including the nearby hot spring area of Bessho Onsen. Accessible from Ueda Station using the local Bessho Line, the famous hot springs and temples of the surrounding area draw visitors from all over Japan and enjoy increasing attention from international travellers.
HOW TO GET TO UEDA
For visitors heading to Ueda from starting points including Tokyo, Karuizawa, Nagano, Toyama and Kanazawa, it is an exceptionally easy city to reach thanks to the Hokuriku Shinkansen line servicing all of those cities; while connecting lines and regional limited express services also connect Ueda to many other popular destinations. In this section you will find information on how to reach Ueda from the following starting points:
KARUIZAWA / NAGANO CITY / JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK / KUSATSU ONSEN / MATSUMOTO / TATEYAMA-KUROBE ALPINE ROUTE / TAKAYAMA / SHIRAKAWA-GO & GOKAYAMA / TOYAMA / KANAZAWA / LAKE KAWAGUCHIKO / NAGOYA / KYOTO / OSAKA / TOKYO INC. TOKYO AIRPORTS
We endeavour to keep this information as up-to-date as possible and in recognition that most international visitors will be using the train network to move around Japan, most directions are for using the trains. If there is alternative option ie. express or local bus, that is notably faster or economical, we also include that information. All prices listed below are for non-reserved seating.
FROM KARUIZAWA / between 20 to 60 minutes
Visitors heading to Ueda from nearby Karuizawa can do so using the Hokuriku Shinkansen or local services including the Rokumon Sightseeing. From Karuizawa Station, shinkansen services depart regularly throughout the day taking only 18 minutes / JPY2640. Alternatively, local services cover the journey in around 60 minutes / JPY890 while the popular Rokumon Sightseeing Train operates from March to September and takes between 1.5 to 2 hours to reach Ueda from Karuizawa.
FROM NAGANO CITY / between 12 to 45 minutes
Nagano Station is another station on Hokuriku Shinkansen line making it an easy starting point from where to reach Ueda Station. Services run regularly throughout the day, taking only 12 minutes / JPY1470 to make the journey while local services take 45 minutes / JPY780. The Rokumon Sightseeing Train also runs to and from Nagano Station, taking around 1 hour to reach Ueda.
FROM JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK / between 1.5 to 2.5 hours
Nagano Station. From the park, you have the option of: 1. a direct express bus from the park to Nagano Station or 2. a local bus to Yudanaka Station followed by an express train to Nagano Station. Starting from the park, the express bus costs JPY1500 each way and takes 55 minutes to reach Nagano Station. In comparison, taking the local bus from the park to Yudanaka Station followed by the train, takes 15 minutes and costs JPY310 before the limited express train to Nagano takes another 45 minutes and costs JPY1290 – a total journey of around 60 to 70 minutes and costing JPY1600. Once at Nagano Station, follow the directions above onto Ueda.
FROM KUSATSU ONSEN / between 2 to 3 hours
Karuizawa is the nearest major train station to Kusatsu Onsen. Regular bus services run from central Kusatsu Onsen to Karuizawa Station – 80 min / JPY2240 – from where you can take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Ueda Station – a total journey of between 2 to 3 hours. Alternatively, for travellers wishing to drive themselves, the journey takes around 1.5 hours.
FROM MATSUMOTO / approx. 2 hours
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From Matsumoto Station, take any service on the Shinonoi Line bound for Nagano and when at Shinonoi Station, transfer to the Shinano Tetsudo Line bound for Ueda Station – a total journey of just under 2 hours / JPY1570.
FROM TATEYAMA-KUROBE ALPINE ROUTE / between 2 to 3 hours
For travellers heading to Ueda directly from the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, it will be easiest to descend to Ogizawa Station on the Nagano-side of the mountains. Buses run from Ogizawa Station to Nagano Station – taking around 105 minutes. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above onto Ueda Station – a total journey of between 2 to 3 hours (depending on transfer times at Nagano and which train service you choose to use).
FROM TAKAYAMA / between 3.5 to 4 hours
While it takes time to travel from Takayama to Ueda, the journey is relatively simple. From Takayama Station, take the Limited Express ‘Hida’ service to Toyama Station and once at Toyama, transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Ueda. To do so, you may have to take a service to Nagano Station and then transfer onto a connecting service to Ueda – a total journey time of between 3.5 to 4 hours / JPY11,560.
FROM SHIRAKAWA-GO & GOKYAMA / between 2.5 to 3.5 hours
Ogimachi is the main village of the World Heritage-listed grouping of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama. From Ogimachi, take the Nohi Bus service to Toyama Station – a journey of around 60 minutes / JPY1730 – and once there, follow the direction below by taking the Hokuriku Shinkansen onto Ueda – an additional journey time of around 75 minutes / JPY8600.
FROM TOYAMA / approx. 75 minutes
Toyama Station is a stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, connecting it directly to Ueda Station. Services run regularly throughout the day, taking around 75 minutes / JPY8600.
FROM KANAZAWA / approx. 105 minutes
FROM LAKE KAWAGUCHIKO / between 3 to 5 hours
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Visitors heading to Ueda from Kawaguchiko can do so by train however the journey takes around 5 hours and requires multiple transfer. It costs between JPY8000 to JPY9000 depending on which option you choose – making the option of driving yourself attractive. For those who do wish to make the journey by train, the fastest option is to take the Fujikyoko Line from Kawaguchiko Station to Otsuki Station and switch to the Limited Express ‘Kaji’ service to Kofu Station. Once at Kofu, switch to the Limited Express ‘Azusa’ service to Matsumoto Station and once there, transfer to the Limited Express ‘Shinano’ service bound for Shinonoi Station. At Shinonoi, switch to the Shinano Tetsudo Line bound for Ueda Station. Alternatively, should you wish to drive, the journey takes around 3 hours by car.
FROM NAGOYA / approx. 3.5 hours
From Nagoya Station, take the Limited Express ‘Shinano’ service to Shinonoi Station and once there, transfer to the Shinano Tetsudo Line bound for Ueda Station – a total journey of around 3.5 hours / JPY7510.
FROM KYOTO / between 4 to 5 hours
How to Get to Ueda & Bessho Onsen
Reaching Ueda from Tokyo, Karuizawa, Nagano, Toyama and Kanazawa is a simpl…
To reach Ueda from Kyoto Station, take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya and then follow the directions above by taking the Limited Express ‘Shinano’ service to Shinonoi Station and once there, transfer to the Shinano Tetsudo Line bound for Ueda Station – a total journey of between 4.5 to 5 hours / JPY10,920.
FROM OSAKA / between 4.5 to 5.5 hours
From Shin-Osaka Station, you can make the journey to Ueda via either Tokyo or Nagoya. To do so via Tokyo, take the ‘Nozomi’ service on the Tokaido Shinkansen line to Tokyo Station and then transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen line to Ueda Station – a total journey of just over 4.5 hours / JPY18,840. To do so via Nagoya, take any service on the Tokaido Shinkansen line to Nagoya and follow the directions above onto Ueda – a total journey of around 5.5 hours / JPY11,470.
FROM TOKYO INC. TOKYO AIRPORTS / approx. 1.5 hours
Tokyo Station is the southern terminus of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, making it an easy point from where to reach Ueda. The journey takes around 1.5 hours and costs JPY6260. For visitors heading to Ueda directly from either of Tokyo’s airports – Narita and Haneda – you will first need to venture into central Tokyo – to either Tokyo Station or Ueno Station – to connect to the Hokuriku Shinkansen services bound for Ueda. From Narita Airport, you take choose to take the Narita Express (NEX) rapid service to Tokyo Station or Keisei Skyliner to Keisei-Ueno Station and then transfer to the shinkansen at Ueno Station – both options take around 60 minutes, adding at least 1 hour to your total journey time to Ueda. From Haneda Airport, the journey to Tokyo Station takes only 30 minutes using the Tokyo Monorail and onward train services to Ueda.
HOW TO GET TO BESSHO ONSEN
For visitors heading to Bessho Onsen by train, you will first need to reach Ueda – by following the directions above – and once at Ueda, switch to the local Bessho Line. Services run regularly throughout the day – with the earliest train departing Ueda at 06:15 and final service leaving at 22:27 – and take 30 minutes / JPY590 to reach Bessho Onsen Station. The line is known of its picturesque scenery and nostalgic feel making it part of your travel experience in its own right.
ROKUMON SIGHTSEEING TRAIN
Operating from March to September, the Rokumon Sightseeing Train runs from Karuizawa and Nagano City via Ueda Station and is one of the most enjoyable ways to journey through the region. Taking 2.5 hours to cover the journey from Karuizawa to Nagano via Ueda, the three-carriage sightseeing train features local timber throughout instilling the experience with a relaxing and classic atmosphere and includes both Japanese and Western meal services. For anyone heading to Ueda from either of those starting points, or for any traveller wanting to enjoy one of Central Japan’s best rail experiences in combination with a visit to Ueda and Bessho Onsen, we highly recommend allowing the time to travel on the Rokumon Sightseeing Train. Please refer to the official website for timetables and current pricing.
25 THINGS TO DO AROUND UEDA / BESSHO ONSEN & WHERE TO STAY
Visitors to Sugadaira are almost certain to head to the resort via Ueda – a nostalgic city known for its quaint features, good food, hot springs and legendary samurai. The former stronghold of the mighty Sanada clan, any visit to Ueda starts at the expansive Ueda Castle Park before exploring its retro enclaves and side streets before heading to Bessho Onsen – Ueda’s renowned hot spring haven. Our ’25 Things to Do Around Ueda / Bessho Onsen & Where to Stay’ page has everything you need to know about what’s on offer, why you should visit and where to stay once there.
BOOK WITH US! NAGANO’S NO.1 TOUR & CHARTER OPERATOR
Locally-based and operating all year round, Snow Monkey Resorts is Nagano’s No.1 tour and charter operator. We have the local knowledge of where and when to go, to help you discover and enjoy the region’s fantastic destinations including Ueda and Bessho Onsen.
For guests wanting to enjoy any of the above destinations and activities in the comfort of their own transport, we can arrange a private tour or charter customised to fit your needs, starting and ending at any destination including from / to Ueda Station and directly to your accommodation. Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your schedule.
All vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety. We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of that experience and help you discover even more!
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2022 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano and Central Japan.
Got a question about visiting Nagano and Central Japan this winter? Contact us and let’s get planning