1-Day Tour from Nagano and Matsumoto: Experience Matsumoto Castle and Narai-juku

1-Day Tour from Nagano and Matsumoto: Experience Matsumoto Castle and Narai-juku


All Year Round


08:15 - 18:15

Meeting Place

Nagano Station
Matsumoto Station


Adult (13+)23,800 JPY
Child (6-12)11,900JPY

1-Day Tour from Nagano and Matsumoto: Experience Matsumoto Castle and Narai-juku

Defined by its mountains and natural landscapes, Central Japan is the literal heartland of this beautiful country and a road less travelled by many international visitors. This engaging one-day tour takes you to Matsumoto Castle – one of the few remaining original castles in Japan and a registered National Treasure – before heading to the beautifully preserved, 1-km long post town known as Narai-juku, located on the Nakasendo road. Led by a locally-based guide and including direct transport to Narai-juku from Matsumoto and Nagano, this tour captures the essence of Old Japan at two of its best preserved historical sites.


  • Visit Matsumoto Castle – one of Japan’s few remaining original castles and a registered National Treasure – on a guided tour and learn all about its history, legend and secrets
  • Stroll through the famous “Kaeru Michi” or “Frog Street” also known as Nawate-dori. Home to more than 50 shops, restaurants, and cafes most famous for selling all things frog-related.
  • Explore the famous post town of Narai-juku, the biggest post town on the Nakasendo road and one of the best preserved in all of Japan, known for its charming streets lined with wooden buildings.

Want to join this tour from Tokyo? It’s easy to do! Scroll to the bottom for our FAQs including train services that can you use to join the tour!


The tour starts at Nagano Station, where you guide will greet you at 08:15 and have you board the tour bus and head to Matsumoto Station, the second pick up point of the tour, where boarding will begin at 09:45. Once all guests have boarded the bus, the tour will head for the historic center of Matsumoto, established as a castle town in the days of the Samurai.

The tour begins at Nawate-dori, also known as “Frog Street”, which is home to more than 50 shops, restaurants, and cafes most famous for selling all things frog-related. Located adjacent to the Metoba River which runs through Matsumoto, you would never believe from its appearance today that this river was once heavily polluted.

As a result of that pollution, the frogs which had once blessed the surroundings with their nighttime chorus became unable to live in the parts of the river near Nawate-dori, spurring local residents to start efforts to clean up the water and recreate a suitable environment for the frogs. This was the start of the long-time connection between Nawate-dori and frogs.

The street sells an array of specialities including many flavors of ‘o-senbei’ (rice crackers), ‘taiyaki’ (fish-shaped pastries), ‘dagashi’ (traditional candy), ice cream, and much, much more!


Once we have finished up at Nawate-dori, we will begin exploring the Matsumoto Castle grounds. The castle dates back to the end of the ‘Warring States Period’ with much of the original structure still intact. One of the most beautiful historic buildings in Japan, it is one of only two 6-storey castles remaining today – yet only exists due to the intervention of local residents who have saved it from destruction more than once.  You will be guided into the castle grounds as your guide reveals the history and features which make it so lauded, before heading into the castle itself and ascending all the way to the top of its six stories! Inside you will find intricate woodwork, beautiful views of Matsumoto City, and a collection of historical guns, artifacts, and other items which will give you a glimpse into the life of a Japanese warrior when the castle was first built.

From there, you will have some free time to take a longer look around the castle grounds, visit a few shops around the castle, or buy some food at a convenience store to eat on the bus ride to Narai-juku. There is a Family Mart, one of the most popular chains of Japanese convenience stores, right outside of the castle grounds which has all the essentials and will serve you well should you require anything from a quick snack to a ‘bento’ box lunch to-go.

Once everyone has met back up in front of the castle, we will begin our journey to Narai-juku. This will take around 1 hour, but you need not worry about getting bored for the whole ride is blessed with scenic views of fields and mountains – often capped with a glistening blanket of snow. Your guide will explain more about the Shinshu region and the history of Narai-juku and the Nakasendo road while you are enroute to your destination.

Situated in the middle of the Nakasendo road which once connected Tokyo (then known as Edo) to Kyoto, Narai-juku is today the longest and amongst the best preserved of all post towns remaining in Japan. As it is located deep in the mountains, and immediately before a very tough section of road, it flourished as a place for travelers to rest up and prepare for the next leg of their journey. With all this economic activity, it eventually became famed throughout Japan as “Narai of a Thousand Inns”; And while that is perhaps an exaggeration, the number of historic buildings lining the street here will surely surprise you.

We will arrive at the entrance to Narai-juku, near the train station, from where your guide will begin the guided portion of the tour. As you walk down the main street, you will learn about the quirks of Narai-juku’s construction and hear stories from its golden age. In winter, there are often almost no other tourists – domestic or foreign – in Narai-juku, and you can enjoy having the whole area almost to yourself. When snow is thick on the ground, you may be able to hear nothing more than the flowing springs in town and the calls of wildlife in the nearby forests, creating a tranquil atmosphere that only enhances the stateliness of the buildings. Nearing the end of town, you will find the Shizume Shrine, built in 1664 and registered as a cultural heritage site. Set in a forest of tall, old cedar trees, it provides the perfect place to stop and rest while you take in the scenery.

During this portion of the tour, you will also be able to partake in a seasonal activity in order to better understand Narai-juku and its culture.

Your guide will then give you 1 hour of free time, during which you may peruse the shops on the main street or enter into a café or restaurant for some refreshments. Guests looking for a little more walking may also continue walking down the Nakasendo for a while, enjoying the crisp air and beautiful scenery that blesses this region. At the end of this time, you will meet your guide again and get ready to board our private vehicle back to Matsumoto.

*If you prefer to end the tour at Narai-juku – for those who would have procured accommodation in town– you will be free to to do so. See our FAQs below for details.


08:15/09:45The tour begins with meetup at Nagano Station at 08:15 followed by Matsumoto Station at 09:45. Guests joining the tour at Nagano Station should wait inside the station, in front of the large Information Board across from the Shinkansen exit gates. Your guide will greet you and have you board the tour bus.
For guests joining from Matsumoto, the meetup point is at the West Exit of the station, in front of the taxi stand. Be sure to look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag at 09:45.
10:00Stroll through the streets of Nawate-dori with your guide followed by a guided experience at the historic castle grounds, learning the fascinating history of one of Japan’s last remaining original castles. Then, enter the castle and ascend to the top for a unique experience you won't soon forget. Afterwards, you will have 30 minutes of free time to prepare for our bus ride to Narai-juku.
12:30Depart Matsumoto and begin your journey to Narai-juku. The trip will take around 1 hour in total, with beautiful scenery visible outside the window for most of the ride.
13:30Arrive at Narai-juku and begin your guided walk. Your guide will introduce the area and its history, and make sure you do not miss anything along the way.

The seasonal activity will also take place during this time.
15:00After walking through the entirety of Narai-juku, you will be given 1 hour of free time to eat, shop, and enjoy the town at your own pace. Feel free to ask your guide for recommendations.
16:00The tour concludes, and our tour bus will begin the journey back to Matsumoto and Nagano.
17:00/18:15Arrive back at Matsumoto Station at 17:00, or 18:15 for those going back to Nagano Station.


1 / HOTEL KOKUSAI 21 @ 07:50

The meetup point is at the entrance of Hotel Kokusai 21. Please note that this is group tour and there are other pick-up points the the tour will need to depart on-time. Please be at the entrance prior to the meetup time and look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag. The tour will need to depart on-time.

2 / NAGANO STATION @ 08:15  — MAIN MEETUP POINT — All Year Round

The meetup point is inside the station, in front of the Information Board directly across from the Shinkansen ticket gates. Be sure to look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag and ensure you are there prior to the meetup time as the tour will need to depart by 08:20.



The meetup point is at the West Exit of the station, in front of the taxi stand. Be sure to look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag.



  • Transportation fee to and between all listed destinations and activities including Matsumoto and Narai-juku
  • Entry ticket to Matsumoto Castle and guided tour
  • Guided walk at Narai-juku + Seasonal Activity
  • English-speaking guide


  • Lunch
  • Additional travel costs including train tickets
  • Accommodation (unless requested)

Other Information

  • This tour spends the majority of the day outdoors including at Matsumoto Castle and Narai-juku. Please ensure you are prepared for changing weather conditions by carrying a waterproof jacket, umbrella, hat and sunglasses. As both Matsumoto and Narai-juku are located at a relatively high elevation, the sun can be strong so we also recommend bringing sunscreen.
  • In winter, there will often be snow on the ground both in Matsumoto City and in Narai-juku. The temperatures may also be quite cold, with days where even the high is below 0 degrees Celsius being not uncommon. We ask that you wear water-proof, winter shoes and warm clothing in order to best enjoy your tour.
  • This tour includes a reasonable amount of walking including at Matsumoto Castle and at Narai-juku. We will also be entering the castle and climbing to the top-floor. This climb is steep and staircases are tight and therefore may not be appropriate for some people. Please follow the instruction of your guide if they suggest you wait outside where you can freely stroll and enjoy the historic grounds.
  • 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.
  • At Narai-juku, you guide will allow you to explore Narai-juku yourselves. However, please ensure that you cooperate with your guide’s instructions regarding meeting places and times. The tour bus will need to depart on-time.
  • The tour application deadline is 2 days before the tour date at 17:00.


I’d like to join the tour from Tokyo. Is that possible?
If you’d like to join us from Tokyo, we’d love to have you with us! There are 2 options. You can either join from Nagano Station 08:15 or join from Matsumoto Station at 09:45.

To join from Nagano Station. Take the following services on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line:

Departing Tokyo Station – Arriving Nagano Station

Tokyo: 06:16 – Nagano: 07:38 – Kagayaki – reserved seats only Tokyo: 06:28 – Nagano: 08:06 – Hakutaka

To join from Matsumoto Station. Take the following Limited Express Azusa service:

Departing JR Shinjuku Station – Arriving at Matsumoto Station

Shinjuku: 07:00Matsumoto: 09:38
I’d like to start the tour at Nagano/Matsumoto but end at Narai-juku. Can I do this and can I bring my luggage?
Yes. We will be happy to pick you up at Nagano/Matsumoto Station and drop you off at Narai-juku including transporting your luggage. Please note however, that luggage is typically restricted to one suitcase per guest. If you are traveling with more, please contact us prior to booking to discuss our ability to accommodate your request.
Can I choose to end the tour at Narai-juku to spend the night there?
Yes. If you would like to leave the tour at Narai-juku, we can certainly say goodbye there. If you have procured accommodation for the night in Narai-juku, or at another town somewhere nearby, the tour guide can help direct to your hotel or make sure you catch the train you need to get where you would like to go. Feel free to let your guide know on the day, and ask them if you would like help.
Can I add accommodation to my tour booking?
Yes. We can add accommodation in Nagano City or Matsumoto City. To do so, please contact us any time to discuss options.
What should I wear/bring?
This tour runs year round, and as a result the weather varies significantly based on the time of year for which you booked your tour.

 In general, you can expect sometimes chilly but relatively comfortable weather in Spring (March-May) and Fall (September-November). On a warm day in these seasons, T-shirts and shorts may be acceptable clothing for the daytime hours, but after dark it may be cold and bringing a light jacket is recommended. Especially towards the beginning of Spring and the end of Fall, wintery weather including possible snowfall should be planned for. In Summer (June-August), you can expect comparatively high temperatures, sometimes over 30 degrees Celsius, although the area is notably less hot and humid than areas such as Tokyo or Osaka. In Winter (December-February), there will often be snow on the ground, and on a cold day temperatures may not rise above freezing even at the high. Please wear warm clothes and shoes which are appropriate for walking in snow and ice.
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 prior to booking to discuss options.
Is lunch included on this tour?
No. This tour does not include lunch however there will be opportunities to purchase food and drinks during the tour. If you prefer to, please also feel free to bring snacks and drinks with you.
This tour is more expensive than some of your other tours. Why is that?
The price of this tour is a reflection of the distance covered, activities including entry to the castle, use of our own transport, and a guide for the day. We also transport you directly to and from Narai-juku without needing to wait for the infrequent trains which run between Matsumoto and Narai-juku, saving you precious time. Additionally, a seasonal activity at Narai-juku is included in the price.

(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