1-Day Tour: Wasabi-Picking Experience & Kamikochi Alpine Valley
May to November
09:00 - 18:30
|120,000 ~ / group||JPY|
1-Day Tour: Wasabi-Picking Experience & Kamikochi Alpine Valley
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 goes against the flow to take you deep into Japan’s mountainous heartland.
- 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
- Try your hand at picking your own wasabi straight from the stream at a nearby farm – a rare and enjoyable experience
- Enjoy Azumino’s renowned ‘soba’ (buckwheat noodles) complemented by your freshly-grated wasabi at a local restaurant
- 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 Bridge
Want to join this tour from Nagano or 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 Matsumoto Station, where your guide will greet you at 09:00 and have you board the tour bus and first head to Daio Wasabi Farm. 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.
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.
You’ll then have the chance to wade into a stream as a local farmer pulls a fully-grown plant from the riverbed at a nearby farm, allowing you to pick and clean your own fresh wasabi in the pristine water. This is a rare chance to enjoy wasabi-picking in one of Japan’s most famous growing regions. With fresh wasabi in-hand you’ll then head to a nearby restaurant for an early lunch of Azumino’s renowned ‘soba’ (buckwheat noodles) with your freshly-grated wasabi.
It’s then time to begin your journey into the North Alps. Taking around 1.5 hours to reach Kamikochi, your guide will first give you the chance to rest and relax after lunch before stopping after 45-minutes to stretch your legs as you ascend into the stunning Chubu Sangaku National Park. Re-boarding the bus, your guide will start to introduce the story of the Chubu Sangaku – one of Japan’s original eight national parks – as you enjoy the beautiful mountain road leading to Kamikochi. Situated 1500 meters above sea level deep within the national park, Kamikochi is famous for its natural beauty, pristine rivers and ponds, and dramatic mountain peaks rising to over 3000 metres.
Starting at Taisho-ike (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. Depending on the pace of the group, your guide will then give you 1 to 1.5 hours to enjoy for yourself. Stroll a 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.
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*.
*If you prefer to end the tour at Kamikochi – allowing you to stay there overnight or take an onward bus service to Takayama – we can drop you at Kamikochi Bus Terminal at 17:00. See our FAQs below for details.
|9:00||Meetup with your guide at Matsumoto Station. Your guide will be waiting for you at the station's West Exit, in front of the taxi stand. They will be wearing a 'Snow Monkey Resorts' tour tag. The guide will collect all guests and have them board the tour bus headed for Daio Wasabi Farm.|
|9:30||Arrive at Daio where you guide will introduce you to the wasabi and its surprisingly versatile flavour and uses for the entire plant before giving you a little free-time to enjoy by yourself.|
|10:30||Head to a nearby farm to enjoy picking your own wasabi straight from the riverbed.|
|11:30||Enjoy an early ‘soba’ (buckwheat noodle) lunch including your freshly-grated wasabi.|
|12:20||Depart Azumino and begin your journey into the North Alps. Enroute to Kamikochi, you will stop in the mountains after around 45-minutes to break-up the long but beautiful drive and allow you to stretch your legs and use the bathroom. Once back on the road, it's another 30-minutes until your arrival in Kamikochi.|
|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 hour to hour-and-a-half (depending on the pace of the tour) 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.|
1 / MATSUMOTO STATION @ 09:00
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 Daio Wasabi Farm and Kamikochi
- Guided tour at Daio Wasabi Farm including choosing your 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
- Additional food, snacks & drinks
- Shinkansen / ‘Bullet’ Train tickets
- Accommodation (unless requested)
- Onward bus tickets from Kamikochi to Hirayu Onsen and / or Takayama
- This tour is capped at a maximum of 14 guests and we use our own transport for the entire day including direct transport in and out of Kamikochi, without the need to transfer onto public buses.
- This tour spends the majority of the day outdoors including at Daio Wasabi Farm, wasabi-picking and Kamikochi. Please ensure you prepared for changing weather conditions by carrying a waterproof jacket, umbrella, hat and sunglasses. While the weather is Kamikochi is likely to be notably cooler than Matsumoto, the sun can be strong so we also recommend bringing sunscreen.
- 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℃.
- 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 15:30.
- 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. There will also be opportunities to buy further food, snacks and drinks around the Kappabashi area of Kamikochi around 15:30 onward.
- From approximately 15:30 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.
- Guests have the option of being dropped at Matusmoto Station or 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 3 days before the tour date at 17:00
- I'd like to join the tour from Nagano. Is that possible?
Yes! Joining the tour from Nagano is simple. The Limited Express Shinano is a quick, comfortable and scenic train service connecting Nagano Station and Matsumoto Station. There is a morning service departing Nagano Station at 07:45 and arriving at Matsumoto Station at 08:36 – leaving plenty of time to grab that morning coffee before starting the tour at 10:00. For international visitors holding a Japan Rail (JR) Pass, this train service (including reservations) can be used without any additional charge. . If possible, we recommend booking a seat in advance and then sit back and enjoy one of Central Japan’s most beautiful train rides.
- 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! You can do so by taking the following Hokuriku Shinkansen service: departing Tokyo Station at 06:16 and arriving at Nagano Station at 07:38 – Kagayaki (reservation only). Once at Nagano, you will then need to transfer to the Limited Express Shinano service departing at 07:45 and arriving at Matsumoto at 08:36. To do so, when you come up from the shinkansen platform at Nagano Station, go to your right and through the ticket gates leading to local train lines. Rather than heading straight back to Tokyo, we recommend staying in Kamikochi after the tour or booking accommodation nearby Matsumoto Station. For international visitors holding a Japan Rail (JR) Pass, both train services (including reservations) can be used without any additional charge
- I’d like to start the tour at Matsumoto but end at Kamikochi. Can I do this and can I bring my luggage?
Yes. We will be happy to pick you up at Matsumoto Station and drop you at Kamikochi Bus Terminal 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 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. If you choose to use the onward bus servicse to Hirayu Onsen or Takayama, please note that that ticket cost is not included in this tour.
- Can I add accommodation to my tour booking?
Yes. We can add accommodation in Matsumoto City. To do so, contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org any time to discuss options.
- 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. You’re unlikely to need them but it’s also best to bring a waterproof jacket and small umbrella. 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 prior to booking to discuss options.
- 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. If you prefer, you also have the option of ‘udon’ noodles and for children, a kids plate including ‘onigiri’ (rice sandwiches) and other tasty snacks. 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.
- 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 wasabi-picking, use of our own transport, a guide for the day and our choice to cap the number of guests. This tour has a maximum of 14 participants. We do this to ensure the best possible experience for our guests. We also transport you directly to and from Kamikochi without the need for multiple transfers and lining-up to get on the large public buses to access the beautiful reserve. So while the price is little higher than some of our tours, we’re confident you’ll enjoy every aspect!
(Travel Agency License No: Nagano 2-562)
Snow Monkey Resorts Tours
Nagano City Kurita 1015-7, NK Copo 202, Nagano, 380-0921 Japan
Member of All Nippon Travel Agents Association
Travel Service Supervisor: Tomoko Kasahara
May to November
09:00 - 18:30
|120,000 ~ / group||JPY|