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1-Day Tour from Matsumoto/Nagano: Kamikochi Alpine Valley

1-Day Tour from Matsumoto/Nagano: Kamikochi Alpine Valley

Period

May to November

Time

08:00/09:30 - 18:30/20:00

Meeting Place

Matsumoto Station / Nagano Station

Price

Adult (13+) 23,000 JPY
Child (6-12) 17,800 JPY

Traditional Japanese belief tells that human souls are born atop of mountains, from where they flow down alpine rivers and eventually into the streams that give life and abundance to the villages below. Following that belief, this engaging one-day tour starts in the farmlands of Azumino before ascending to the stunning alpine valley of Kamikochi and source of the rivers that bring fertility and life to the world below. Including lunch and guided by a locally-based guide, this tour fo goes agains the flow to take you deep into Japan’s mountainous heartland.

 

Highlights

 

—  Enjoy a morning visit to Daio Wasabi Farm in Azumino where Japan’s most famous and flavourful crop is grown in pristine and mineral-rich waters flowing down from the North Alps

 

— Select your own wasabi straight from the riverbed and enjoy Azumino’s renowned ‘soba’ (buckwheat noodles) complemented by your freshly-grated wasabi and rare treat of wasabi leaf ‘tempura’

 

— Visit Hotaka Shrine – dedicated to Japan’s third tallest mountain – where your guide will introduce the Shinto principles of nature worship and asking for safe passage before beginning your journey into the mountains

 

— Explore the stunning alpine valley of Kamikochi, considered the jewel of the Chubu Sangaku National Park, with a guided walk along the Azusa River from Taisho Pond to Kappabashi and its iconic view of Mount Hotaka before enjoying free-time to enjoy the beauty of mountain landscape

 

 

kamikochi-chubu-sangaku-national-park

 

The tour starts at Matsumoto Station, where your guide will greet you at 09:30 and have you board the tour bus and first head to Daio Wasabi farm (guests wanting to join from Nagano Station can do so using our shuttle serivce, departing from the station at 08:00 – refer to our FAQ below for details). Located in the Azumino region of Nagano, the farm is one of Japan’s largest producers of wasabi. A notoriously difficult plant to grow, wasabi requires pristine water and the right mineral balance in order to thrive – and as such, it is the ideal place to demonstrate the far-reaching importance of the water flowing from the mountains above.

 

azumino-daio-wasabi

 

While wasabi is well-known around the world, the majority of what is available is not the real thing but instead, green-dyed imitations. Wandering the streams and pools that flow across the farm, your guide will introduce you to this intriguing aquatic plant and its surprisingly versatile flavour. Daio Shrine and wooden water wheels– the setting for a scene in Kurosawa Akira’s 1989 film ‘Dreams’ – only add to the atmosphere as your guide introduces you to all things wasabi!

 

daio-wasabi-azumino

daio-wasabi

 

You’ll then have the chance to wade into a stream as a local farmer pulls fresh wasabi from the riverbed. You can then pick your own wasabi and clean it in the stream before heading for an early lunch. For lunch you’ll enjoy Azumino’s renowned ‘soba’ (buckwheat noodles) with your freshly-grated wasabi and rare chance to enjoy the wasabi leaf ‘tempura’, as the leaves and stems of the plant are also put to delicious use.

 

azumino-wasabi-picking

azumino-soba

 

It’s then time to reboard the tour bus and begin your journey into the North Alps, first stopping at Azumino’s famous Hotaka Shrine. Dedicated to Japan’s third tallest mountain – Hotaka-dake – your guide will quickly introduce the Shinto devotion to nature and places of special importance such as large mountains, rivers and waterfalls. Asking for safe passage into the mountains, you’ll then be transported into the North Alps and onto Kamikochi – a beautiful drive in its own right.

 

hotaka-shrine-azumino

 

Situated 1500 meters above sea level deep within the Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is famous for its natural beauty, pristine rivers and ponds, and dramatic mountain peaks rising to over 3000 meters. Your guide will lead you along a gentle walking trail that flows the stunningly clear Azusa River.

 

kamikochi-chubu-sangaku-national-park

 

Starting at Taishoike (Taisho Pond) and following the river through mixed forest and onto to the parks famous Kappabashi (Kappa Bridge), the guided portion of your tour ends with the majestic view of the triple peaks of Hotaka.

 

kamikochi-chubu-sangaku-national-park

kamikochi

 

The next 90-minutes are yours to enjoy as choose. Strolla little further along the river or sit at a café or restaurant and simply take in the view. Set against the majestic backdrop of Mount Hodataka, Kamikochi never fails to thrill guests and is often listed as one of Japan’s best experiences.

 

kamikochi-chubu-sangaku-national-park

 

At 17:00 the tour bus will depart and begin the journey back toward Nagano, where the tour is scheduled to conclude where it started, at Matsumoto Station at 18:30 or 20:00 for guests heading onto Nagano Station using our shuttle service*.

 

*Guests joining this tour are free to start at one location and end at another including drop-off at Kamikochi Bus Terminal at 17:00, Matsumoto Station at 18:30 and Nagano Station at 20:00 – allowing you to incorporate the tour into your onward journey through Japan. See our FAQ below for details.

ITINERARY

08:00 Guests wanting to join the tour from Nagano Station can board the shuttle bus to Matsumoto to meetup with the main tour (please note that the tour guide is scheduled to join at Matsumoto).
09:30 The main meetup point/time is Matsumoto Station at 09:30. The guide will collect all guests and have them board the tour bus headed for Daio Wasabi Farm.
10:00 Arrive at Daio where you guide will introduce you to the wasabi and its surprisingly versatile flavour and uses for the entire plant. While there, you will be able to pick your own wasabi straight from its riverbed and enjoyed with lunch.
11:30 Enjoy an early ‘soba’ (buckwheat noodle) lunch including your freshly-grated wasabi and ‘tempura’ (lightly fried) wasabi leaf.
12:20 Depart Azumino, first stopping at Hotaka Shrine - dedicated to Japan's third highest mountain that you will see when in Kamikochi - and then into the mountains for the beautiful journey through the North Alps.
14:00 Arrive at Taisho Pond and follow a gentle walking trail along the Azusa River, as you are guided toward Kappabashi.
15:30 Arrive at Kappabashi at which time your guide will set you free to enjoy the next two hours by yourself. You can stroll further into the park or find a cafe or restaurant to sit down at and breathe in one of Japan's most captivating landscapes.
17:00 Board the tour bus and being the journey back toward Matsumoto (guests wanting to transfer to bus services bound for Hirayu Onsen and Takayama are welcome to leave the tour at this point).
18:30 Drop-off at Matsumoto Station where the tour officially concludes.
20:00 Final drop-off of guests wanting to return to Nagano Station.

NOTES

Included:

  • Transportation fee to and between all listed destinations and activities including Daio Wasabi Farm and Kamikochi
  • Guided tour at Daio Wasabi Farm including choosing youru own wasabi from the riverbed at an adjacent farm
  • Lunch (vegetarian options are available)
  • Guided walk at Kamickochi from Taisho-ike (Taisho Pond) to Kappabashi (Kappa Bridge)
  • English-speaking guide

 

Excluded:

  • Additional food, snacks and drinks
  • Shinkansen/bullet train tickets
  • Accommodation (unless requested)
  • Onward bus tickets from Kamikochi to Hirayu Onsen and/or Takayama

 

Other Information

 

  • This tour includes a reasonable amount of walking including around Daio Wasabi Farm and at Kamikochi. While at Daio, you have the option of trying wasabi-picking at an adjacent farm. This requires you to walk along the stream/riverbed in water. You will be provided with waterproof boots but we cannot guarantee sizes. At Kamikochi, your guide will lead along the walking trail from Taisho-ike (Taisho Pond) to Kappabashi (Kappa Bridge) – approximately 2.7km. Your guide will allow 1.5 hours to walk this trail at a leisurely pace. If you cannot walk the trail, you have the option of going ahead in the tour vehicle and meeting the group at Kappabashi, when they arrive at around 15:20.
  • This tour is not wheelchair accessible and may not be suitable for guests who are mobility impaired. Should this be a concern, please contact us prior to booking to discuss suitability.
  • An early lunch will be taken at a nearby restaurant from 11:30 to 12:20. There will also be opportunities to buy further food, snacks and drinks around the Kappabashi area of Kamikochi around 15:20 onward.
  • This tour does not include lunch however your guide will provide opportunities to buy snacks in Matsumoto. Once at Kappabashi at approximately 14:30, there are several restaurants, cafes and food vendors which you can utilise should you wish to. You can also bring food with, if that is convenient.
  • From approximately 15:20 until 16:50 your guide will allow free-time to explore Kamikochi however please ensure that you cooperate with your guides instruction regarding meeting places and times. The tour bus will need to depart on-time.
  • Kamikochi is located at 1500 meters above sea level and weather can change quickly. Please ensure you have clothing suitable for changing conditions including rain and cooler temperatures (7 to 22℃). In late-autumn (October to November), temperatures can drop to 0℃.
  • Guests have the option to start at either Matsumoto or Nagano and finish at the other, or be dropped at Kamikochi Bus Terminal for those wanting to stay in Kamikochi or take the Nohi bus service onto Hirayu Onsen and/or Takayama. This service can be provided at no additional charge.
  • The tour application deadline is 2 days  before the tour date at 17:00

MEETING PLACE

Google Map

Matsumoto Station / Nagano Station

FAQ

I’d like to join the tour from Nagano Station. How does that work?

 

Guests have the option of joining this tour from/to Nagano Station. To do so, simply choose your preferred start and end points at time of booking. For guests joining from Nagano, the tour involves a lot of time on the road  therefore to avoid backtracking at the end of the day, you might wish to consider being dropped at Kamikochi – where you can stay or take an onward bus to Hirayu Onsen and/or Takayama* – or be dropped at Matsumoto as we return to Nagano. We can transport luggage during the tour however typically restricted to one suitcase per guest. If you are traveling with more, please contact us at snowmonkeyresorts@machinovate.com  prior to booking. Please also note that the guide is scheduled to join the tour at Matsumoto.

 

*Tour price does not include cost of bus ticket/onward travel to other destinations.

 

 

I’d like to start the tour at Matsumoto but end at Kamikochi or Nagano (or vice versa). Can I do this and take I bring my luggage?

 

Yes. We will be happy to pick you up at one and drop you at the other including transporting luggage. Please note however, that luggage is typically restricted to one suitcase per guest. If you are traveling with more, please contact us at snowmonkeyresorts@machinovate.com  prior to booking to discuss our ability to accommodate your request.

 

 

Can I choose to end the tour at Kamikochi in order to stay there or take the bus onto another destination?

 

Yes. If you would like to leave the tour at Kamikochi, we can certainly say goodbye there. The tour will depart Kamikochi at 17:00 at which time we would leave you at the Kamikochi Bus Terminal. From there, guests staying in Kamikochi would need to take themselves to their accommodation – please check the location carefully as hotels are spread at distance along the valley with many only accessible on-foot – or can use the Nohi bus service onto Hirayu Onsen with services departing at 17:30 and 18:00. Taking only 25-minutes to reach Hirayu Onsen, there is an onward service to Takayama at 18:40, arriving at 19:30.

 

 

I would like to join from Tokyo and/or return there after the tour. What train services should I use?

 

If you would like to join the tour from Tokyo, you can do so by taking the following shinkansen service to Nagano Station:

 

Departing Tokyo Station – Arriving Nagano Station

 

Tokyo: 06:16 – Nagano: 07:38 – Kagayaki (reservation only)

 

Guests returning to Tokyo after the tour can choose to do so from either Matsumoto Station or Nagano Station using the following services:

 

Departing Matsumoto Station – Arriving Shinjuku Station

 

Matsumoto: 18:40 – Shinjuku: 21:06 – Ltd. Exp. Azusa 54

Matsumoto: 19:30 – Shinjuku: 22:07 – Ltd. Exp. Azusa 58

 

Departing Nagano Station – Arriving Tokyo Station

 

Nagano: 20:26 – Tokyo: 21:56 – Kagayaki (reservation only)

Nagano: 20:34 – Tokyo: 22:12 – Hakutaka

Nagano: 21:15 – Tokyo: 23:00 – Asama

 

 

Can I add accommodation to my tour booking?

 

Yes. We can add accommodation in both Matsumoto City or Nagano City. To do so, please contact using the button below or email at snowmonkeyresorts@machinovate.com.

 

 

What should I wear/bring?

 

This tour runs from May to November and includes a significant amount of time in the mountains. Please ensure you have clothing suitable for changing conditions including rain and cooler temperatures, typically ranging from 7 to 22℃). In summer, it will be notably cooler than the cities but still hot – 30℃+ – and the sun can be strong. Please ensure you bring a hat, sunglasses and some people may require sunscreen. In late-autumn (October to November), temperatures can drop to 0℃. At all times of year, please ensure you are wearing good quality footwear suitable for alpine walking on uneven ground and we recommend always bringing a small pack or bag to carry water, snacks, etc. Of course, your phone or a camera is a must!

 

 

Is this tour wheelchair accessible/appropriate for guests with limited mobility?

 

The nature of this tour means it is not wheelchair accessible and may not be appropriate for guests with limited mobility, given the amount of walking involved. Should this be of concern, contact us at snowmonkeyresorts@machinovate.com prior to booking to discuss options.

 

 

Why is this tour so long?

 

It’s true, this is one of our longer day tours. The length of the tour is a function of the distance to and from Kamikochi, but believe us, it’s worth it! Our schedule is designed to give guests a good balance between the guided portion of the tour, their own time to explore and enjoy, lunch, and breaks while driving without feeling like you are rushed or don’t have time to enjoy the day. For guests starting from Nagano worried about they length of the tour, why not have us drop you at Kamikochi or Matsumoto to save coming back to where you started and so you can keep moving? We’d be more than happy to do that and believe us, it’s worth it!

 

 

I’m not a big fan of wasabi. Will I still enjoy the tour?

 

Yes! Wasabi tends to divide opinion but it’s worth noting that most people have never tried the real stuff. Only an estimated 5% of wasabi sold around the world is believed to be real, with most people only ever trying green-dyed horseradish or mustard sold as imitation wasabi. While real wasabi is also hot, it has a much more pleasant and subtle taste that doesn’t linger for long. Notoriously fickle and taking a long time to grow, wasabi is the perfect crop to reveal the purity and abundance of the water flowing-out of the North Alps and is fun and easy to handpick. Enjoyed with Azumino’s local delicacy of ‘soba’, it’s a rare chance to try freshly-grated soba puckled straight from the riverbed along with wasabi ‘tempura’ (not at all hot and very delicious) as the entire plant is put to use. You might just be surprised at how good the real stuff can taste!

 

 

Other than lunch, is any other food or drinks provided on the tour?

 

The tour includes an early ‘soba’ (buckwheat noodle) lunch around 11:30. Soba is an Azumino speciality and makes for a tasty and easy lunch before our afternoon walking in the mountains. At lunch, guests can help themselves to tea and water. Outside of this, the next opportunity to buy food or drinks will be at Kamikochi, around 15:30 at Kappabashi where cafes and food vendors are selling a good range of options. For that reason, it’s a good idea to carry water or other drink and small snacks with you for the walk in Kamikochi.

(Travel Agency License No: Nagano 2-562)
Snow Monkey Resorts Tours
Nagano City Kurita 1015-7, NK Copo 202, Nagano, 380-0921 Japan
Tel: (81)26-219-6256
Member of All Nippon Travel Agents Association
Travel Service Supervisor: Tomoko Kasahara

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