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1-Day Tour: Matsumoto Castle & Kamikochi Alpine Valley

1-Day Tour: Matsumoto Castle & Kamikochi Alpine Valley

Period

May - Nov / Tues & Thurs

Time

08:30 - 19:00

Meeting Place

JR Nagano Station Information Board

Price

Adult (13+) 18,800 JPY
Child (6-12) 14,800 JPY

Highlights

  • Visit Matsumoto Castle – one of Japan’s few remaining original castles and a registered National Treasure
  • Stroll Matsumoto’s quaint ‘Frog Street’, a cute shopping street of food vendors, craft and antique stores leading to the castle
  • Explore the stunning alpine valley of Kamikochi, renowned for its pristine natural state and guided walk the trail from Taisho Pond to Kappa Bashi before enjoying free-time to enjoy the beauty of mountain landscape

 

Description

 

Situated between the popular destinations of Kyoto and Tokyo, the mountains of Nagano and surrounding regions are the literal heart of Japan and a road less travelled by many international visitors. This tour combines visits to Matsumoto and its famous castle – one of the few remaining castles in Japan – before heading high into the grandeur of the Northern Alps and to the alpine oasis of Kamikochi. All led by an English-speaking guide, this tour captures the essence of Central Japan by combining two of its most iconic destinations.

 

 

The tour begins at JR Nagano Station at 08:30. Your guide will greet all guests and quickly have you on your way toward the historic city of Matsumoto.

 

Arriving around 10:00, your guide will lead you along a quaint little street known locally as ‘Kaeru Michi’ or ‘Frog Street’. This cute shopping precinct is home to food vendors, craft and antiques stores, and adorned with countless frog statues, memorabilia, and merchandise. Your guide will explain just why frogs are so important to the local neighbourhood as you stroll toward the castle – a lovely introduction to this popular city.

 

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More than 400 years old and a registered National Treasure, Matsumoto Castle is one of Nagano’s most impressive cultural sites, known for its structural beauty set against a splendid mountain backdrop. You will be guided into the castle grounds as your guide reveals the history and features which make it so lauded, before giving you time to explore for yourself (including ascending all the way to the top of its six storeys, should you choose to!).

 

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It’s then time to head high into the mountains, as you are transported into the Northern Alps and onto Kamikochi. Situated 1500 meters above sea level deep within the Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is famous for its pristine natural state, beautiful rivers and ponds, lush forests, and dramatic mountain peaks rising to over 3000 meters.

 

 

Arriving at approximately 13:00, your guide will lead you along a gentle walking trail starting at Taisho Pond and following the stunningly azure Azusa River, through mixed forest and onto to the parks famous Kappabashi (Kappa Bridge). 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.

 

 

The next two hours are yours to enjoy as choose. You choose to stroll further along the river or sit at a café or restaurant, and simply take in the view*.

 

 

At 16:30 the tour bus will depart and begin the journey back toward Nagano, where the tour is scheduled to conclude where it started, at JR Nagano Station at 19:00.

 

*Please note, this tour does not include lunch due to time constraints. You will however have opportunities to buy snacks in Matsumoto and (should you wish to) sit down at a cafe or restaurant in Kamikochi, should you wish to. The earliest opportunity to do so in Kamikochi will be approximately 14:30. If you wish to bring food on the day, please feel free to do so.

ITINERARY

08:30 Pickup at JR Nagano Station. Your guide will meet you in front of the Information Board, directly opposite the shinkansen/bullet train ticket gates. Once all guests have arrived you will board the tour bus and head toward Matsumoto.
10:00 Arrive nearby Matsumoto Castle and walk through the historic shopping district to the castle. At the castle, your guide will explain its history, importance and why it survived when most other Japanese castles did not. You will also have time to enter the castle and climb to the top (should you wish to do so).
11:30 Board the tour bus and depart Matsumoto for Kamikochi. Sit back and ejoy the journey through the beautiful Northern Alps.
13:00 Arrive at Taisho Pond and follow a gentle walking trail along the Azusa River, as you are guided toward Kappabashi.
14:30 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.
16:30 Board the tour bus and begin the journey back toward Nagano. Your driver will stop along the way to break-up the drive.
19:00 Arrival back at JR Nagano Station where the tour concludes.

NOTES

Included:

  • Transportation fee from/to Nagano and all listed destinations
  • Entry ticket to Matsumoto Castle
  • English-speaking guide

 

Excluded:

  • Lunch and other food, snacks, and drinks
  • Shinkansen/bullet train tickets
  • Accommodation

 

Other Information:

  • Please wear suitable shoes and clothing for alpine walking in Kamikochi.
  • This tour includes a considerable amount of walking. Guests have the option of entering Matsumoto Castle and climbing to the sixth floor using internal staircases. The staircases are steep and should not be attempted by guests who are mobility impaired. At Kamikochi, your guide will lead along the walking trail from Taisho Pond to Kappabashi – 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 14:30.
  • 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 14:30 until 16:30 your guide will allow free-time to explore Kamikochi however please ensure that you cooperate with your guides instruction regarding meeting places and times.
  • 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℃.
  • The tour application deadline is 2 days  before the tour date at 17:00.

MEETING PLACE

Google Map

JR Nagano Station Information Board

Kurita, Nagano-shi, Nagano, 380-0921, Japan

FAQ

What time of the bullet train should I ride to arrive in Nagano on time? 

The start of the tour is arranged according to the bullet train (called Hokuriku Shinkansen) timetable. The services listed below from Tokyo to Nagano will arrive in time to join the tour:

 

Departing Tokyo Station – Arriving Nagano Station

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

Tokyo: 06:28 – Nagano: 08:06 – Hakutaka

Tokyo: 06:44 – Nagano: 08:26 – Hakutaka*

* You can still take 06:44- 08:26 train since JR Nagano Station isn’t big at all and there is only one Shinkansen ticket exit. The tour meet-up is just after the Shinkansen ticket exit so please come straight up to there.

 

Guests returning to Tokyo after the tour can use the following shinkansen services:

Departing Nagano Station – Arriving Tokyo Station:

Nagano: 19:08 – Tokyo: 20:52  – Asama
Nagano: 19:38 – Tokyo: 21:16  – Hakutaka

 

Can I choose to end the tour at Kamikochi in order to stay there?

Yes. If you would like to leave the tour at Kamikochi, we can certainly say goodbye there. To do so, please ensure that your accommodation is inside Kamikochi and that there is adequate time to walk to your accommodation (please note, some guesthouses in Kamikochi can only be accessed on foot and may be some distance from the bus terminal). If you would like to do so, please contact us to confirm that your accommodation is nearby and luggage you will be carrying.

RESERVATION