How to Get to Matsumoto
As home to one of Japan’s last remaining original castles along with many other great attractions, Matsumoto is one of the most popular destinations in Central Japan. Easily accessible from major cities including Nagano, Tokyo, Nagoya and beyond, Matsumoto Station is also a convenient launching point from where to explore regional destinations such as Kamikochi, Takayama, the Nakasendo Trail and more. On this page you will find the following information:
Located in the shadow the North Japan Alps, Matsumoto is a small historic city best-known for its castle. As a registered National Treasure, Matsumoto Castle is without doubt the beacon that draws visitors to the city but once here, you’ll discover a lovely little town with plenty to keep you entertained for a day or two.
25 Things to Do Around Matsumoto & Where to Stay
Located in the shadow the North Japan Alps, Matsumoto is a small historic c…
Readily accessible from Tokyo, Nagano and Nagoya using the train network, Matsumoto is also an ideal launching point from where to go deeper into Central Japan including the North Alps including Norikura Kogen and Kamikochi, onto the Takayama and Shirakawa-go in the west, rural Azumino and the ski resorts of the Hakuba Valley to the north, and Nagano City, Togakushi, the Jigokudani Monkey Park and Shiga Kogen – Japan’s largest and highest ski resort – to the east. We hope the following information is of assistance in planning your visit! Let’s start with the obvious question:
WHERE IS MATSUMOTO?
Matsumoto is the second largest city in Nagano Prefecture – behind Nagano City – and is located around 230KM / 3.5 hours to the north-west of Tokyo or only 70KM / 70-minutes to the south-west of Nagano City. Most famous for its iconic castle, Matsumoto lies in the valley below Japan’s highest mountain range – the Hida Mountains, also called the North Alps – and is one of Japan’s most liveable cities, blending a proud samurai history and ‘mingei’ (folk craft) culture with a thriving arts and food scene. Matsumoto Station lies in the centre of the city and is serviced by the Limited Express ‘Azusa’ running to Shinjuku Station in Tokyo and the Limited Express ‘Shinano’ running to Nagano and Nagoya. Nearby the city, Matsumoto Airport is an increasingly popular point of arrival for international visitors.
HOW TO GET TO MATSUMOTO
In this section you will find information on how to reach Matsumoto from the following starting points:
MATSUMOTO AIRPORT – NAGANO CITY – JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK – NAGOYA – NAKASENDO TRAIL – KAMIKOCHI – TAKAYAMA – SHIRAKAWA-GO & GOKAYAMA – TATEYAMA-KUROBE ALPINE ROUTE – TOKYO – NARITA AIRPORT – HANEDA AIRPORT – KANAZAWA – KARUIZAWA – KYOTO & OSAKA
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.
FROM MATSUMOTO AIRPORT / approx. 25 minutes
For visitors heading into Matsumoto City from Matsumoto Airport, the airport shuttle bus operates to and from Matsumoto Bus Terminal (adjacent to Matsumoto Station). The bus takes around 30 minutes and costs JPY600. Alternatively, taxis are also available – usually around 25 minutes / JPY4000 – to reach central Matsumoto with rental cars also available.
FROM NAGANO CITY / approx. 50 minutes
Nearby Nagano City is the largest city in the region and the major transport hub for northern Nagano Prefecture. From Nagano Station, the Limited Express ‘Shinano’ runs to and onto Nagoya including the following stops:
*Please note, stations marked in bold are stops on all services. Those not marked in bold are only serviced by certain services throughout the day.
There are many services every day including the Limited Express Shinano – taking around 50 minutes / JPY2370 – and local services – taking around 1.5 hours. For the daily train schedule, please refer to our ‘Limited Express Shinano Line Timetable’ page.
Both services are covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Even if you are buying tickets, we recommend spending that little bit extra and using the Limited Express ‘Shinano’. This comfortable train features large windows, affording a fantastic view of the surrounding landscape as you move quickly to and from Matsumoto.
Alpico operates several bus services from Nagano to Matsumoto each day. While the train is likely to be your most convenient option, to use the bus exit the station via the Zenko-ji Exit and head over the large intersection. Look to your left for the Alpico bus stop and office.
FROM THE JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK / between 2 to 2.5 hours
To reach Matsumoto from the Jigokudani Monkey Park tis relatively straight-forward when done via 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 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 to reach Matsumoto.
FROM NAGOYA / approx. 2.5 hours
Nagoya Station and Matsumoto are stops on the Shinano Line – as detailed above. Regular services connect the two cities each day. It takes approximately 130 minutes and costs JPY5610. Use the link above to access the timetable.
FROM THE NAKASENDO TRAIL / between 40 to 75 minutes
Visitors to the Nakasendo Trail are likely to use the Limited Express ‘Shinano’ via either Nakatsugawa Station or Kiso-Fukushima Station. From those stations, it is easy to reach Matsumoto: from Nakatsugawa 75 min / JPY3840 and from Kiso-Fukushima 40 min / JPY2190. Use the link above to access the timetable.
FROM KAMIKOCHI / approx. 2 hours
There are no direct buses from Kamikochi to Matsumoto. To travel between the two, you can take the bus from Kamikochi Bus Terminal to Shin-Shimashima Station and once there, transfer to the Kamikochi Line bound for Matsumoto Station. The total journey takes around 2 hours and costs JPY2500 per adult and JPY1250 per child. For full details, see the following timetable and fares page.
FROM TAKAYAMA / approx. 2.5 hours
Takayama to Matsumoto is an increasingly popular route for many international visitors. The Nohi Bus company operates multiple services each day, taking approximately 2.5 hours to reach Matsumoto. The bus departs from the Takayama Bus Terminal, located next to Takayama Station.
FROM SHIRAKAWA-GO & GOKAYAMA / approx. 4 hours
From the villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, take the bus onto Takayama Station and follow the directions above. See the following page for information including timetables and fares to and from Takayama.
FROM THE TATEYAMA-KUROBE ALPINE ROUTE / approx. 2.5 hours
The easiest way to reach Matsumoto from the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route is to descend on the Nagano-side of the mountain range to Ogizawa Station and from there, take the 40 min bus to Shinano-Omachi Station. From the station, take the Oito Line to Matsumoto Station – a total journey of around 2 hours. Alternatively, you can reach Matsumoto via the Tateyama Station / Toyama-side of the mountains but the journey takes much longer and we do not recommend doing so, unless you have a reason to go via Toyama. To do so, take the Toyama Chiho Railway to Dentetsu Toyama Station and switch to the Hokuriku Shinkasen (refer to the link below) at Toyama Station. Take the shinakansen to Nagano and transfer to the Shinano Line bound for Matsumoto.
FROM TOKYO / approx. 2.5 hours
The Limited Express ‘Azusa’ service runs to and from Shinjuku Station to Matsumoto Station and takes around 2.5 hours and costs JPY6620. There are two services per hour. A highway bus also operates between Shinjuku Station/Bus Terminal and Matsumoto Bus Terminal, located near Matsumoto Station. The bus takes around 3 hours. Alternatively, you can also reach Matsumoto from Tokyo, via Nagano City, using the Hokuriku Shinkansen line from either Tokyo Station or Ueno Station. The journey takes between 90 to 110 minutes (depending on which train you take) and costs between JPY8000-9000 one-way. The Kagayaki and Hakutaka services starting from Tokyo Station are the fastest while the Asama service, which originates at Ueno Station, is slower, stopping at more stations en route to Nagano. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above to reach Matsumoto.
FROM NARITA AIRPORT / between 3.5 to 4 hours
From Narita Airport visitors need to head into Tokyo to make their way onto Matsumoto. From Tokyo, you have two options: 1. using the Limited Express Azusa service from Shinjuku Station to Matsumoto, or 2. taking the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station or Ueno Station to Nagano, and then switching to the Shinano Line bound from Matsumoto.
1 / to use the Limited Express Azusa, take the Keisei Skyliner to Nippori Station and transfer to the Yamanote Loop Line bound for Osaki. Disembark at Shinjuku and switch to the Limited Express Azusa bound for Matsumoto. The total journey takes around 4 hours and costs JPY9140.
2 / take the Narita Express (NEX) to Tokyo Station or the Keisei Skyliner to Keisei-Ueno Station – located within walking distance of Ueno Station – and transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Nagano. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above. This option is also likely to take around 4 hours but is more expensive, around JPY13,000.
FROM HANEDA AIRPORT / between 3 to 3.5 hours
From Haneda Airport visitors need to head into Tokyo to make their way onto Matsumoto. From Tokyo, you have two options: 1. head to Shinjuku Station from the airport and take the Limited Express Azusa direct to Matsumoto, or 2. head to Tokyo Station and take the Hokuriku Shinkansen for Nagano and then switch to the Shinano Line bound from Matsumoto.
1 / using the Limited Express Azusa directly to Matsumoto: take the Tokyo Monorail to Hamamatsucho Station and then take the Yamanote Line to Kanda Station, and from Kanda, the Ome Line to Shinjuku. At Shinjuku, transfer to the Limited Express Azusa bound for Matsumoto – a total journey of around 210 minutes / JPY7120.
2 / using the Hokuriku Shinkansen via Nagano: take the Tokyo Monorail to Hamamatasucho and then head onto to Tokyo Station. Once at Tokyo, switch to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Nagano and at Nagano, transfer to the Limited Express ‘Shinano’ bound for Matsumoto – a total travel time of around 200 minutes and just over JPY10,000.
FROM KANAZAWA / approx. 2.5 hours
Kanazawa Station is the northern terminus of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line. The easiest way to reach Matsumoto from Kanazawa is to take the shinkansen to Nagano Station and once there, switch to the Shinano Line to reach Matsumoto. The journey from Kanazawa to Nagano takes around 80 to 85 minutes and costs JPY8590. From Nagano follow the direction above to reach Matsumoto.
FROM KARUIZWA / between 1.5 to 2 hours
Both Nagano Station and Karuizawa Station are stops on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, meaning that getting from one to the other is quick and easy – taking only 30 min / JPY3210. Once at Nagano, follow the directions above to reach Matsumoto.
FROM KYOTO & OSAKA / between 3.5 to 4 hours
From both Kyoto and Osaka, the easiest way to reach Matsumoto is via Nagoya Station. Both cities are on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, making Nagoya readily accessible: taking 35 min / JPY5170 from Kyoto Station and 50 min / JPY5940 from Shin-Osaka Station. Once at Nagoya, follow the direction above to reach Matsumoto.
HOW TO GET TO MATSUMOTO CASTLE
Matsumoto Castle is the most popular attraction in the city and within easy reach of the station on-foot. To get there, head-out of the station via the main exit and simply follow the signs toward the castle. The walk takes around 15 to 20-minutes and takes you past the popular shopping streets of Nakamachi and Nawate-Dori. Along the way you will also find some nice cafes, restaurants and shops to make the walk worthwhile.
Alternatively, the ‘Town Sneaker’ bus runs to and from that station and takes approximately 5-minutes to reach the castle. Simply disembark when you hear the announcement for the castle stop.
25 THINGS TO DO AROUND MATSUMOTO & WHERE TO STAY
Many if not most visitors heading to Matsumoto are drawn by its iconic castle, one of the few remaining original castles in Japan and a registered National Treasure. Once in Matsumoto, visitors discover a historic and pleasant city with a thriving folk craft, art and dining scene. So while it’s castle that might attract people to visit, it’s everything else that the city has to offer that makes them want to stay. Our ’25 Things to Do Around Matsumoto & Where to Stay’ page has lots of great tips and suggestions of things to do, including links to accommodation listings, in and around Matsumoto.
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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 Matsumoto and beyond.
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!
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