New Bus Pass for Matsumoto, Takayama, Shirakawa-go and Beyond

July 5th, 2019


Click on the image to see the full flyer
Starting this July, JR is offering a new pass for travel between Matsumoto and Kanazawa/Shin-Takaoka/Toyama for just 5,500 yen. As its name implies, the Three-Star Route Option Ticket runs along many of central Japan’s most popular sightseeing destinations, including Matsumoto Castle, Takayama, Shirakawa-go, and Kanazawa.

See the flyer above or the official Three-Star Route Option Ticket website for more information.

Three-Star Route Option Ticket details

Purchase Period
July 1, 2019 to March 25, 2020
Period of Validity
7 Days
Price
5,500 yen, (Children: 2,750 yen)
Valid Routes
One-way travel between Matsumoto and Kanazawa, Toyama, or Shin-Takaoka on the bus lines included below:

Shiga-Kusatsu Route (292) Temporarily Closed (May 2019)

May 21st, 2019

On Saturday, May 18th, 2019, the amount of volcanic activity recorded at Mt. Shirane exceeded Kusatsu Onsen’s safety guidelines. In response, a portion of the Shiga-Kusatsu Route has been temporarily closed until further notice.

The route is closed from the 3-way intersection between the Shiga-Kusatsu Route and the Manza Highway until the Sessho Kawara parking lot at the bottom of the Shirane Kazan Ropeway.

While the Shiga-Kusatsu Route is closed, drivers can use the Manza Highway and the Kusatsu-Tsumagoi line as a detour to reach Kusatsu Onsen (see the map below). The Shigakogen line bus bound for Shirane Kazan will not stop at Shirane Kazan during the closure, so those using public transportation are recommend to travel to Karuizawa by train, then take the Karuizawa-Kusatsu bus to Kusatsu.

Details of the closure can be found on Kusatsu Onsen’s official website in Japanese here.

Fields of Bright Yellow Flowers at Iiyama’s Nanohana Festival

April 26th, 2019

Iiyama City is hosting its annual Nanohana Festival from Friday, May 3rd to Sunday, May 5th!

Iiyama, carpeted in a deep blanket of snow during winter, bursts forth in color during spring. The dazzling fields of rapeseed flowers are complimented by verdant forests, snowy mountains and bright-blue skies—a perfect example of Japan’s idyllic countryside. This short but colorful bloom is a great time to visit the area and enjoy the spring scenery.

You can see an overview of last year’s festival with plenty of photographs on our website here.

Things to Do

Enjoy Iiyama’s beautiful spring scenery with some outdoor activities! You can rent a bicycle from the Shinetsu Shizenkyo Center in Iiyama Station and ride along the riverside on your way to the park, or even take a boat ride across the Chikuma River. Kayaking is also offered at Lake Hokuryu near Nozawa Onsen.

1. Rent a bicycle at Shinetsu Activity Center


Nanohana Park is about 30 minutes away from Iiyama Station by bicycle. The relatively flat roads along the Chikuma River are great for biking, and you can enjoy the surrounding scenery at your leisure. Just over halfway to the park is Iiyama’s Michi-no-eki, where you can stop for a drink and stock up on snacks and/or souvenirs.

Details

Place
Shinetsu Activity Center (in Iiyama Station)
Hours
8:30 to 18:00
Price
Half-day Rental: 500 to 1,000 yen
One-day Rental: 1,000 to 1,500 yen

2. Ride a boat across the Chikuma River

Small motorboats will run across the Chikuma River during the Iiyama Nanohana Festival. Traveling back and forth between the Michi-no-Eki and the Nanohana Park, the boat offers great views of the surrounding flowers and mountains.

Details

Place
Michi-no-Eki Hana-no-Eki Chikumagawa and Nanohana Park
Hours
9:00 to 16:00
Price
One-way: 600 yen
Round-trip: 1,000 yen
(half price for children)

3. Kayaking on Lake Hokuryu

Lake Hokuryu sits on the hillside of Iiyama near Nozawa Onsen. This small lake is surrounded by nanohana flowers and forest, with a few cherry blossoms poking out between the trees. You can kayak on the lake among the spring scenery and enjoy the cool mountain air. One and two-person kayaks are available.

Details

Place
Lake Hokuryu
Hours
10:00 to 16:00
Price
Adults: 3,000 yen
Children: 2,000 yen

4. Visit Ancient Kosuge Shrine


Together with Togakushi and Iizuna, Kosuge was one of Northern Nagano’s most renowned places for ascetic practice. Among the old kominka houses, you’ll find numerous temples and shrines. And at the very top of the village, where it meets the forest, a wide, cobblestone trail heads into the mountain. The hour-long trek passes through tall cedar trees, streams, and impressive rockfaces before reaching the Kosuge Okusha Shrine. The path has poor footing in some areas, so proper footwear and hiking experience is recommended.

See more information here.

Access to Iiyama’s Nanohana Park

Several buses will run between Iiyama and the Nanohana Park during the festival period, with occasional buses to Nozawa as well. Purchase the One-Day Bus Passport for 1,000 yen for unlimited rides on the buses below (traveling to Nozawa Onsen requires a separate fee).

For Kosuge Shrine, get off at Kosuge no Sato.

Nanohana Park BusesGolden Week 2019Original Timetable Here
To Nanohana Park/Nozawa 1st 2nd* 3rd 4th 5th* 6th† 7th 8th† 9th* 10th 11th† 12th* 13th 14th
Iiyama Station 9:10 10:10 10:50 11:30 11:50 12:50 13:35 14:40 15:15 16:30
Takahashi Mayumi Doll Museum 10:15 11:35 12:55 14:45
Nanohana Park (Yunoiriso Entrance) 9:34 10:30 11:00 11:14 11:50 12:00 12:14 13:00 13:10 13:59 14:00 15:00 15:39 16:54
Kosuge no Sato 10:40 12:00 13:20 15:10
Lake Hokuryu 10:45 12:05 13:25 15:15
Nozawa Onsen 9:48 11:28 12:28 14:13 15:53 17:08
Nozawa Grand Hotel 9:53 11:33 12:33 14:18 15:58 17:13
Michi-no-Eki Hana-no-Eki Chikumagawa 11:10 12:10 13:10 14:10
Togari Onsen 11:20 12:20 13:20 14:20
To Iiyama Station 1st 2nd 3rd* 4th† 5th 6th* 7th† 8th 9th* 10th† 11th† 12th 13th* 14th† 15th 16th*
Togari Onsen 11:20 12:20 13:20 14:20 15:20
Michi-no-Eki Hana-no-Eki Chikumagawa 11:30 12:30 13:30 14:30 15:30
Nozawa Grand Hotel 9:05 10:10 11:45 12:45 14:30 16:20
Nozawa Onsen 9:06 10:11 11:46 12:46 14:31 16:21
Lake Hokuryu 10:50 12:10 13:30 15:20 16:20
Kosuge no Sato 10:55 12:15 13:35 15:25 16:25
Nanohana Park (Yunoiriso Entrance) 9:19 10:24 11:05 11:40 11:59 12:25 12:40 12:59 13:45 13:40 14:40 14:44 15:35 15:40 16:34 16:35
Takahashi Mayumi Doll Museum 11:20 12:40 14:00 15:50 16:50
Iiyama Station 9:48 10:53 11:25 12:28 12:45 13:28 14:05 15:13 15:55 17:03 16:55

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Opens for the 2019 Season!

April 15th, 2019

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route opens today, April 15th!

The alpine route climbs Mt. Tateyama and connects Nagano and Toyama prefectures with a series of cable cars, ropeways, trams, and buses. In addition to its incredible mountain scenery, it is famous for the Kurobe Dam, Japan’s tallest dam, and the snow walls of Murodo, which reach up to 20 meters in height!

This year, Murodo’s snow walls are a lofty 16 meters tall, and you can enjoy its snowy scenery until late June!

Access to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route


The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route can be accessed from Nagano or Toyama prefectures.

From Nagano, take the Nagano-Omachi bus from Nagano Station to Ogizawa Station (105 minutes).

From Toyama, take the Toyama Chiho Railway from Dentetsu Toyama Station (adjacent to Toyama Station) to Tateyama Station (65 minutes).

Traveling the entire route takes about 4 hours and 40 minutes plus sightseeing time. Plan a full day for your trip!

Alpine Route Prices

Most visitors travel straight through the Alpine Route, but it is also possible to take a round-trip visit to any part of the route. Below are fares for the full route as well as round-trip options to Murodo from both Nagano and Toyama.

Tateyama Kurobe Option Ticket

For people travelling one-way across the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, you can use the Tateyama Kurobe Option Ticket to save some money. While the full route costs 12,090 yen, the option ticket only costs 9,800 yen—saving you 2,290 yen! Purchase at least one day in advance.

Alpine Route Fare Chart (Abbr.)April 15th to November 30th, 2019
Section Price
Nagano Station–Dentetsu Toyama Station (One-way) 12,090 Yen
Nagano Station–Murodo (Round-trip) 13,250 Yen
Dentetsu Toyama Station–Murodo (Round-trip) 6,710 Yen

See Related Articles

Go! Nagano Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route Page
Snowy Mountains and Cherry Blossoms in Spring

*New* Free Wi-Fi and Area Guide Map on Matsumoto’s Nakamachi Street

April 10th, 2019

Free Wi-Fi Now Available Along Nakamachi Street

Requiring no registration, Nakamachi’s free Wi-Fi gives you unlimited access from 6:00 to 12:00 midnight. (Service may be unavailable in certain areas. Not for gaming.) SSID: nakamachistreet

Updated English Map and Outdoor Area Guide Map

View and download the updated version of Nakamachi’s guide map, which now includes five additional shops. You’ll also find a large-scale wall map for easy viewing in front of the Nakamachi Shopping Street Promotion Association Office located about halfway down the street.

Zenkoji, Obuse & Togakushi 1-Day Tour Bus Launches Again in 2019

April 4th, 2019

Click the image above to see the full pamphlet

First launched last year, this sightseeing bus operated by JR East connects Obuse, Togakushi, and Zenkoji, giving visitors an opportunity to see some of the area’s best sights all in one day! Tour Nagano hassle-free while enjoying onboard Wi-Fi and English commentary for each sightseeing spot.

See this accompanying blog post from last year for an in-depth look at the tour’s contents and for recommendations on how to best enjoy them.

There have been some changes since last year, including a new course that visits Zenkoji Temple in the morning. Departing the Hotel Metropolitan at 9:00, it brings you to Zenkoji during its open hours so you can visit the main hall, try the kaidan-meguri, or purchase an omikuji for good luck. The bus picks you back up at 10:40 to continue on to Obuse and Togakushi.

You also now have two options for visiting Togakushi. You can get off at the Chusha Shrine, located near numerous restaurants and the Chibiko Ninja Village, or continue to the Okusha Shrine to see its famous 400-year-old giant cedars and the Togakushi Ninja Museum.

Schedule

The Zenkoji, Obuse & Togakushi 1-Day Tour Bus operates between April 5th to November 30th, 2019. It runs mainly on weekends and holidays, and every day between October 4th to November 17th. See pamphlet for all dates.

Bus Tour Perks

  • Free onboard Wi-Fi
  • Sake brewery tour & sake-tasting at Matsubaya Honten in Obuse (Japanese language only)
  • Onboard English-language commentary on each sightseeing area
  • 10% discount on Hokusaikan Museum and Togakushi Ninja Museum admission fees

Price

Early Zenkoji Course
Adults/4,000 yen, Children/2,000 yen
Regular Course
Adults/3,500 yen, Children/1,750 yen

Reservations

Reservations can be made online at Japan Bus Online or in person at the front desk of Hotel Metropolitan Nagano (attached to Nagano Station). As long as seats are available, you can also purchase tickets from the hotel’s front desk on the same day.

Bus Timetables for the Takato Castle Park Cherry Blossom Festival

March 27th, 2019

Takato Castle Park’s 2019 bus timetables have been released! You can see the timetables and route map below.

One of Japan’s top three cherry blossom spots, Takato Castle Park is known for its unique Takato Kohigan cherries, whose flowers bloom so thick that they block out the sky. During the day, you can see the reddish-pink blossoms in tandem with the Southern Japanese Alps. At night, illuminations in all the colors of the rainbow. This year, peak bloom is expected between early and mid April. See more information about this year’s cherry blossoms here.

Takato Castle Park Access

Takato Castle Park is located in Ina City in Southern Nagano. It is accessible by bus from JR Chino Station and JR Inashi Station. Get off at JR Bus Takato Station and walk 15 minutes to the park, or take the Hanami loop bus to the park instead.

*For those interested in seeing the illuminations, you will have to take a taxi back to Inashi Station as the last bus from Takato Station leaves at 18:45. For reservations, call the Nagano Multilingual Call Center and have them connect you to Takato Kanko Taxi (0265-72-2151) or Shirakawa Taxi (0265-72-2151).

Takato Castle Park Bus Timetables

Inashi Station-Takato BusFare: 520 yen
Period: Weekday ScheduleOriginal Timetable Here
To Takato 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th
Inashi Station (1) 7:18 7:49 9:00 10:41 11:37 12:31 13:21 14:28 15:43 16:33 18:05 18:43 19:36
JR Bus Takato Station 7:39 8:10 9:23 11:04 12:00 12:56 13:44 14:53 16:06 16:56 18:28 19:06 19:59
To Inashi Station 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th
JR Bus Takato Station (2) 6:53 7:30 8:15 9:25 10:30 11:40 12:30 13:30 15:07 15:55 16:47 17:58 18:45
Inashi Station (1) 7:16 7:58 8:43 9:51 10:55 12:05 12:55 13:55 15:32 16:20 17:12 18:21 19:08
Inashi Station-Takato BusFare: 520 yen
Period: Weekend ScheduleOriginal Timetable Here
To Takato 1st 2nd 3rd* 4th 5th 6th* 7th 8th* 9th 10th 11th
Inashi Station (1) 7:49 9:00 9:35 10:41 11:51 12:31 13:15 14:28 15:57 18:05 18:43
JR Bus Takato Station (2) 8:10 9:23 9:58 11:04 12:14 12:54 13:39 14:51 16:20 18:28 19:06
To Inashi Station 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th* 6th 7th* 8th 9th* 10th 11th
JR Bus Takato Station (2) 7:40 9:25 10:38 11:35 12:30 13:30 15:07 15:35 16:47 17:13 18:45
Inashi Station (1) 8:01 9:49 11:01 11:58 12:55 13:53 15:32 15:58 17:12 17:36 19:08
Hanami Loop BusFare: 100 yen
Period: Takato Sakura Festival PeriodOriginal Timetable Here
Destination Hourly Schedule*
JR Bus Takato Station (2) :00 :20 :40
No. 2 Parking Lot Entrance :01 :21 :41
Rengeji Temple :02 :22 :42
Takato Junior High School Higashiguchi :06 :26 :46
Loop Hashishita :07 :27 :47
Hananooka Koen Entrance :09 :29 :49
Takato Castle Park (3) :10 :30 :50
Rekishi Hakubutsukan :11 :31 :51
Joshi Koen :13 :33 :53
Takato Honmachi :14 :34 :54
JR Bus Takato Station (2) :15 :35 :55
Chino Station-Takato BusFare: 1,390 yen
Period: April 6 to April 14, 2019Original Timetable Here
To Takato 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Chino Station (4) 9:20 11:35 15:30 17:35
JR Bus Takato Station (2) 10:11 12:26 16:21 18:26
To Chino Station 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
JR Bus Takato Station (2) 8:05 10:30 14:30 16:35
Chino Station (4) 8:55 11:20 15:20 17:25

Avoiding Danger in the Backcountry

February 27th, 2019

Mountain Safety Division
Nagano Prefectural Police Headquarters

Cases of accidents in the mountains, such as avalanches and disorientation, caused by people without proper backcountry preparation and/or experience are on the rise.

While people venture into the backcountry at their own risk, they are not the only ones affected in the case of an accident. Rescuers also face the risks of avalanche and inclement weather, and families carry a heavy burden when their loved ones become lost.

Work with us to prevent further backcountry accidents by observing the following rules and understanding the main dangers associated with the backcountry in Nagano and their causes.

  1. Rules to Follow

    1. Make thorough preparations ahead of time

      Please check your course and the surrounding terrain in advance so that you are able to return to a ski resort or road at the end of your run. Videos alone are not a sufficient source of information.

    2. Create an itinerary (communicate your destination)

      Submit an itinerary or inform your accommodation or an acquaintance of your destination before your backcountry trip.

    3. Carry the right equipment

      1. Avalanche gear: beacon, probe, shovel, airbag, etc.
      2. Climbing gear: climbing skins, snowshoes, etc.
      3. Navigational tools: GPS, mobile phone, map, compass, etc.
      4. Emergency gear: spare phone battery, headlamp, warm clothing, emergency blanket, rations, etc.
    4. Check snow conditions

      The Hakuba–Iiyama region is known as an area of heavy snowfall where up to one meter of snow can accumulate in one night. Directly after snowfall, climbing skins are particularly ineffective and ejected skis are very difficult to find. Do not take the snow lightly; pick an appropriate course for the day’s conditions.

    5. Check avalanche risks before skiing

      Check avalanche information provided at the ski resort and/or perform a snow pit test for weak layers in the snowpack.

    6. Closely follow the rules of the resort

      The reason that certain areas are roped off or accompanied by warning signs is to prevent avalanches and steer away the average skier/snowboarder.

      Think about not just yourself, but others that may be affected by your actions when crossing these boundaries—will other people be caught in an avalanche if you cause one? Might an unexperienced skier follow your tracks into dangerous territory?

  2. Types of Mountain Accidents in Nagano Prefecture and Their Causes

    1. Disorientation, Becoming Stuck

      1. Unable to return to a road or ski resort due to not confirming the course/terrain in advance
      2. Not bringing a map or GPS device and becoming unable to pinpoint one’s current location
      3. Following another person’s tracks and losing one’s way
      4. Becoming stuck due to inexperience/inability
      5. Unable to climb due to lack of appropriate climbing gear (climbing skins, snowshoes, etc.)
      6. Unable to move because a ski ejected or a climbing skin was unusable

Don’t rely on others’ tracks

Climbing equipment is necessary

Skis may become buried

    1. Tree Collisions, Falls

      Injuring oneself by entering a backcountry course outside of your ability and/or fitness level and colliding with a tree or falling.

    2. Asphyxiation

      Falling and becoming buried in fresh snow can lead to suffocation and death.

    3. Avalanches

      It is possible to become caught in not only avalanches caused by yourself, but those caused by your friends or other skiing parties as well.

      If your friends or other nearby skiers are not carrying beacons and probes, the likelihood of you being found and rescued in time are extremely small. Even if they are carrying beacons and probes, the chances of survival are very low if you are not found quickly.

Shinano Railway Banzai Pass Available for the 2018-19 Winter Season

December 18th, 2018



The Shinano Railway Banzai Two-Day pass offers great savings for anyone interested in spending time in the eastern Nagano area. The pass covers the Shinano Railway line between Karuizawa and Yashiro Stations, as well as the Kita-Shinano line between Nagano and Myoko-Kogen Stations.

In addition to unlimited rides along the Shinano and Kita-Shinano railways, you can also get special discounts at local restaurants, hotels, and museums. For more information, see the official Banzai Pass website.

The pass will be available for purchase between December 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019.

Shinano Railway Two-Day Pass Details

Period of Sale
December 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019
Usage Period
December 1, 2018 to April 1, 2019
Price
Adults: 2,000 yen; Children: 1,000 yen (5 y.o. or under: free)
Where to Purchase
Any manned Shinano Railway Station (excluding Shinonoi and Myoko-Kogen stations)

Take an Express Bus from Centrair International Airport to Hakuba this Winter!

December 6th, 2018

Click on the image to see the full PDF flyer.

Traveling between Chubu Centrair International Airport and Hakuba this winter? Take an express bus for hassle-free and comfortable travel!

The Hakuba Express Bus from Nagoya picks you up at Chubu Centrair International Airport and delivers you to one of Hakuba’s many ski resorts. They have two bus options: their red-eye option departs the airport at 23:00 and arrives in Hakuba at 6:00 next morning, while their daytime option departs at 16:00, arriving 21:40 on the same day. At the end of your trip, enjoy a stress-free ride all the way back to the airport.

The bus begins operation from December 21st and continues operating until March 31st, 2019. See the service calendar for details on each line.

Centrair—Hakuba Express Bus

Dates of Operation
December 21, 2018 to March 31, 2019
Price
4,500 to 6,000 yen per person
Reservations
Reserve the Hakuba Express Bus on Centrair’s Hakuba Express Bus page