1-Day Tour from Nagano and Matsumoto: Kamikochi & Matsumoto Castle
June to November
08:15 - 18:30
1-Day Tour from Nagano and Matsumoto: Kamikochi & Matsumoto Castle
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 high into the grandeur of the North Alps and onto the protected alpine oasis of Kamikochi. Led by a locally-based guide and including direct transport to and from Kamikochi, this tour captures the essence of Central Japan by combining two of its most iconic destinations.
- 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 stunning alpine valley of Kamikochi, considered the jewel of the Chubu Sangaku National Park.
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 Kamikochi. 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 board the bus and begin the drive to the Chubu-Sangaku National Park. Taking around 1.5 hours in total, we will stop at a rest area after around 45 minutes to allow everyone a chance to use the restroom and stretch their legs. Re-boarding the bus, your guide will start to introduce the story of the majestic Chubu Sangaku National Park – one of Japan’s eight original national parks – as you enjoy the beautiful mountain road leading to Kamikochi.
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. Here you will first enjoy a guided walking tour to Kappa-bashi, followed by some free time to relax in one of Japan’s most scenic spots.
We will be getting off the bus at Taisho-ike, a pond near the entrance to Kamikochi that was formed when a nearby volcano erupted over 100 years ago. From there, we will be walking farther up the Azusa River, which feeds Taisho-ike, taking in the sights and sounds of the pristine natural environment in which the walking trail is located. The trail is mostly flat and well maintained, and there are multiple toilets along the way, so you are free to focus on enjoying your walk. After around 1 hour and 30 minutes, we will reach our destination – Kappa-bashi. Kappa-bashi is a bridge over the Azusa River that commands the best view in all of Kamikochi; the mountains which you will have caught glimpses of along the way will be fully revealed here in all their glory. Once we have arrived at Kappa-bashi, you will have another 1 hour and 30 minutes of free time, during which you may enjoy delicacies made with local ingredients, shop for souvenirs, or continue hiking around the area. 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* (guests returning to Nagano Station will arrive at around 19:30).
*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 help you board the bus at the Kamikochi Bus Terminal at 17:00. See our FAQs below for details.
**This is a group tour of Kamikochi. Looking for a private tour for your group? Please see below:
|[START FROM NAGANO/MATSUMOTO] Private Kamikochi Tour|
|Period||April to November|
|Time||08:15 – Nagano Area |
09:45 – Matsumoto Area
|Meeting Place||Nagano Station Area |
Matsumoto Station Area
|Price||¥172,100 ~ / group|
|08:15/09:45||The 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.
|10:00||Stroll 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 Kamikochi.|
|12:30||Depart Matsumoto 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-ike, where we will begin our 1 hour and 30 minute walk through the pristine nature of Kamikochi to Kappa-bashi. Once we reach Kappa-bashi, you will have a further 1 hour and 30 minute time period of free time to get some food, shop for souvenirs, or continue hiking|
|17:00||Board the tour bus and begin 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||Tour concludes at Matsumoto Station, where the guide will say their goodbyes (guests returning to Nagano will then be shuttled back with an estimated arrival time of 19:30-19:45).|
TOUR MEETUP POINT
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 therefore 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.
2 / MATSUMOTO STATION @ 09:45
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 Kamikochi
- Entry ticket to Matsumoto Castle and guided tour
- Guided walk at Kamikochi
- English-speaking guide
- Additional travel costs including train tickets
- Accommodation (unless requested)
- Onward bus tickets from Kamikochi to Hirayu Onsen and / or Takayama
- This tour spends the majority of the day outdoors including at Matsumoto Castle and Kamikochi. Please ensure you prepared for changing weather conditions by carrying a waterproof jacket, umbrella, hat and sunglasses. While the weather in 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 at Matsumoto Castle and at Kamikochi. You have the option of 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 Kamikochi, you guide will allow you to explore Kamikochi yourselves 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 Matsumoto Station, or saying goodbye at Kamikochi Bus Terminal for those wanting to stay in Kamikochi. Guests who wish take the Nohi bus service to Hirayu Onsen and / or Takayama should also feel free to catch that bus at this time. Your guide will provide assistance with ticketing if necessary.
- 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: 07:00– Matsumoto: 09:38
Rather than heading straight back to Tokyo, we recommend staying in Kamikochi after the tour or booking accommodation in Matsumoto or Nagano City . 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 Nagano/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 Nagano/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 on to Hirayu or Takayama?
- 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 you can use the Nohi bus service onto Hirayu Onsen departing at 17:00. Taking only 25-minutes to reach Hirayu Onsen, there is an onward service to Takayama at 17:30 which will arrive at 18:31. If you choose to use the onward bus services to Hirayu Onsen or Takayama, please note that that ticket cost is not included in this tour, but the guide will be able to assist you with purchasing the ticket.
For more information about the bus to Takayama, please see our "Local Bus Timetable From Takayama to Hirayu Onsen / Kamikochi" page
- 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 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.
- 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 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
June to November
08:15 - 18:30