How to Get to Kamikochi
Sitting between 1200 to 1400 metres above sea level and in the shadow of Japan’s third highest mountain – Mount Hotaka – Kamikochi is a ecologically important alpine valley of remarkable natural beauty. Only accessible to the public from April to November, Kamikochi draws visitors from all over the world and is without question, one of Central Japan’s true highlights. On this page you will find the following information:
Considered by many as the jewel of Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is an alpine valley stretching 18KM north to south as it follows the beautiful waters of the Azusa River. The valley sits between 1200 to 1400 metres above sea level with the mountains above rising to over 3000 metres, including Japan’s third highest peak – Mount Hotaka (3190m). Most visitors spend there time around the iconic Kappabashi, cherishing the fantastic view of Hotaka, however it doesn’t take much energy to enjoy the walking trails of Kamikochi which can be enjoyed for a leisurely strolls, full-day circuits or more serious multi-day trekking high into the mountains.
15 Things to Do in Kamikochi & Where to Stay
Part of the larger Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is a beautiful al…
When planning your visit to Kamikochi, it is important to note that private vehicles are not allowed into the valley meaning that you cannot drive yourself. You will need to use a bus, taxi or tour to enter – see ‘Important Access Information’ below. This makes the option of a tour attractive as it allows you to bypass the need for multiple transfers to enter Kamikochi. Based in Nagano, we are the region’s No.1 tour and charter operator offering both group and private tours along with the option of just transport and/or accommodation. For more information, scroll to the bottom of the page.
WHERE IS KAMIKOCHI?
Kamikochi is an alpine valley located in the southern half of Chubu Sangaku National Park. Located high in the mountains, Kamikochi is approximately 45KM / 70-minutes drive from Matsumoto to the east and 40KM / 60-minutes drive from Takayama to the west. Most visitors heading to Kamikochi will do so via one of these two starting points. From Matsumoto Station, the Alpico Line runs to Shin-Shimashima Station from where buses ferry visitors to the Kamikochi Bus Terminal – a total journey time of around 2-hours; whereas express buses run from the Takayama Bus Terminal – located next to Takayama Station– to Hirayu Onsen, where visitors must switch onto a second bus headed to the Kamikochi Bus Terminal – a total journey time of around 1.5 to 2-hours.
IMPORTANT ACCESS INFORMATION
In order to the limit traffic moving into and through the valley and thus preserve the environment, private vehicles are not permitted to enter Kamikochi. This rule is strictly enforced and means that visitors must use authorised vehicles including taxis, coaches or a tour company to enter the valley – at least for the final leg of their journey to the Kamikochi Bus Terminal. Any unauthorised vehicle attempting to enter Kamikochi will be turned away at the entrance. Visitors can choose to drive themselves as far as the one of the public car parks outside of Kamikochi – located between 15 to 30 minutes before the entrance – but must then use a bus, taxi or appropriately registered vehicle to enter the valley. From the public car parks, regular buses or taxis transport visitors to and from Kamikochi.
|1-Day Highlights of Central Japan Tour: Matsumoto Castle & Kamikochi Alpine Valley|
|Period||May to November|
|Time||10:00 – 18:30|
|Meeting Place||Matsumoto Station|
|Price||¥120,000 ~ / group|
Want to avoid the hassle to multiple transfers to reach Kamikochi? The quickest and most comfortable way to access Kamikochi is by private tour. Led by an English-speaking guide, our tour transports you directly into Kamikochi without the need for transfer on the way.
|1-Day Tour: Wasabi-Picking Experience & Kamikochi Alpine Valley|
|Period||May to November|
|Time||09:00 – 18:30|
|Meeting Place||Matsumoto Station|
|Price||¥120,000 ~ / group|
HOW TO GET TO KAMIKOCHI
Most visitors head to Kamikochi from Matsumoto in the east or Takayama in the west. When coming from further afield using public transport, you will likely need to transit via one of those two cities. In this section you will find information on how to reach Kamikochi from the following starting points:
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 i.e. express or local bus, that is notably faster or economical, we also include that information. As noted above, private vehicles are not permitted to enter Kamikochi meaning that unless you organise a taxi or tour, you will need to use a bus for at least the final stage of the journey.
FROM MATSUMOTO / approx. 2 hours
Many visitors heading to Kamikochi, especially those coming from the east, will do so via Matsumoto. Kamikochi can be accessed using a once daily direct bus service at 530AM – or a combination of train then bus. For visitors wanting to use the train, take the Alpico Line from Matsumoto Station to Shin-Shimashima Station – approximately 30 minutes and costs JPY710 – and then switch to the bus headed for the Kamikochi Bus Terminal – approximately 65 minutes and costs JPY2500 per adult / JPY1250 per child. Please see the following page for information including timetables and fares to and from Matsumoto.
Please note that seats on the bus cannot be purchased in advance meaning that if you are visiting during a busy period, you will have to line-up and wait for the next available bus.
Visitors coming to Kamikochi by their own car and approaching from the Matsumoto-side will use the Sawando public car park, adjoining the Sawando Bus Terminal, and board the bus or taxi headed for the Kamikochi Bus Terminal.
FROM TAKAYAMA / between 1.5 to 2 hours
Visitors approaching Kamikochi from the west, will likely to do so via Takayama – a popular destination in its own right thanks to its beautiful old town and thriving food scene. Kamikochi can be accessed by frequent direct bus service from the Takayama Nohi Bus Center – located next to Takayama Station. Taking approximately 1 hour, this bus will take you as far as Hirayu Onsen where you will need to disembark and board the bus headed to the Kamikochi Bus Terminal – another 25 to 30 minutes.
See the following page for information including timetables and fares to and from Takayama. Please note that seats on the bus cannot be purchased in advance meaning that if you are visiting during a busy period, you will have to line-up and wait for the next available bus. Visitors coming to Kamikochi by their own car and approaching form the Takayama-side will use the Akandana public car park and board the bus or taxi headed for the Kamikochi Bus Terminal.
FROM NAGANO CITY / 3+ hours
There is no direct bus service to Kamikochi from Nagano City and public transport is a little complicated. From Nagano Station, take the Limited Express ‘Shinano’ to Matsumoto Station – please refer to our ‘Limited Express Shinano Line Timetable’ page for the schedule – and transfer onto the direct bus to Kamikochi – only once daily – or switch trains to the Alpico Line and head to Shin-Shimashima Station. Once at Shin-Shimashima visitors must then switch to the Alpico Bus headed to the Kamikochi Bus Terminal.
FROM THE JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK / 4+ hours
To reach Kamikochi from the Jigokudani Monkey Park takes time and requires doing so via Nagano and Matsumoto. 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.
FROM KARUIZAWA / 4+ hours
Karuizawa is one of Japan’s best-known mountain resort towns. A stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, take the shinkansen from Karuizawa Station to Nagano Station – 25 min / JPY3210 – and follow the directions above onto Kamikochi.
FROM SHIRAKAWA-GO & GOKAYAMA / approx. 3 hours
Regular bus services operated by the Nohi Bus company connect Takayama with its World Heritage-listed and famous neighbor. Buses run to and from the Nohi Bus Terminal, next to Takayama Station, and can be purchased on the day or online up to a month in advance. Once in Takayama, follow the directions above – see the following page for information including timetables and fares to and from Takayama.
FROM KANAZAWA / approx. 4 hours
Another of the most popular destinations in Central Japan, Kanazawa is a convenient starting point from where to reach Kamikochi. Regular highway bus services connect Kanazawa Station to Takayama via Shirakawa-go. Departing every 2 to 3 hours and taking around 2 hours to make the journey, a one-way trip costs around JPY3600 while a return ticket will cost around JPY6400. Once in Takayama, follow the directions above. There is no direct train service from Kanazawa to Takayama. Visitors wanting to use the train should proceed to Toyama Station and follow the directions below.
FROM TOYAMA / approx. 4 hours
Toyama is another convenient starting point from where to reach Kamikochi. Most visitors choose to use the Limited Express ‘Hida’ on the Takayama Main Line from Toyama Station to Takayama. This train line is particularly beautiful making the journey itself part of the experience. Once in Takayama, follow the directions above. Taking approximately 90 minutes, there are only two or three convenient services each day and the line is popular with tourists, so if you have the chance to book ahead it can be helpful.
FROM TOKYO / between 5 to 7 hours
Tokyo is located quite some distance from Kamikochi, meaning that it takes time to move between the two destinations. Direct bus services to Kamikochi are also available from from Shinjuku, Tokyo and Shibuya – between 5-7 hour – and Osaka and Kyoto – 6-7 hours. Please see the following page for information including timetables and fares. Alternatively, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station, and once there, follow the directions above to reach Kamikochi. For the shinkansen schedule, please refer to our ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen Timetable‘ page. For information about how to reach Tokyo from the airports, please refer to our ‘Narita Airport‘ and ‘Haneda Airport‘ pages. Once in Tokyo, follow the the directions above to reach Kamikochi.
FROM NAGOYA / 4.5+ hours
Nagoya is the largest city in Central Japan and a fairly easy point from where to reach Kamikochi. Running from Nagoya Station to Takayama, the Limited Express ‘Hida‘ service is another convenient and picturesque train line that connects Nagoya to some of Central Japan’s most enjoyable destinations. It takes approximately 145 minutes and costs JPY5610 to travel between Nagoya and Takayama. Once in Takayama, follow the directions above to reach Kamikochi. Highway buses operated by Meitetsu and Nohi Bus also connect Nagoya and Takayama, taking around 2.5 hours and cost a little over JPY3000.
FROM KYOTO & OSAKA / 5.5+ hours
Reaching Kamikochi from Kyoto or Osaka is relatively straightforward but requires a transfer at Nagoya Station and Takayama. Take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya: taking 35 min / JPY5170 from Kyoto Station and 50 min / JPY5940 from Shin-Osaka Station. Once at Nagoya Station, switch to the Limited Express ‘Hida’ service bound for Takayama. Once in Takayama, follow the directions above to reach Kamikochi.
15 THINGS TO DO IN KAMIKOCHI & WHERE TO STAY
Kamikochi is one of Japan’s most captivating outdoor destinations. Following the Azusa River, the alpine valley has leisurely walking trails leading to iconic views of natural features including Taisho-ike, Myojin-ike and multiple mountains including Mount Yakedake, Mount Yari and most famously, the triple-peaked Mount Hotaka. Our ’15 Things to Do in Kamikochi & Where To Stay’ page has lots of great tips and suggestions of things to do and see, including accommodation listings, in and around Kamikochi.
BOOK WITH US! NAGANO’S NO.1 TOUR & CHARTER OPERATOR
Operating all year round, we are Nagano’s No.1-rated tour and charter operator, offering a range of services including group tours, private tours and charters. We can arrange transport including a private vehicle and driver, along with an English-speaking guide, to transport to, from and between any destinations in the region including Kamikochi.
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 your adventure in Central Japan 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 Kamikochi? Contact us at email@example.com and let’s get planning together!