Suggested Itineraries

Theme Destination (, Options) Area Season Days Family-friendly
Wildlife & Nature Photography Snow Monkey, Togakushi (, Kamikochi, Mt. Fuji) Northern
(, Matsumoto)
All year 2 (+ add’l 2 days) Yes (1-hour walk required)
Walking the Samurai Trail (Nakasendo) Tsumago & Narai Post Towns(, Ukiyo-e Museum, etc) Kiso
(, Matsumoto)
All year 2 (+ add’l 1 day) Yes (1-hour walk required)
Samurai & Ninja Togakushi (ninja), Matsumoto & Ueda Castles, etc. Northern, Matsumoto, Eastern All year 2 (+ add’l 1 day) Yes
Castle, Katana Swords & Geisha Matsumoto Castle, Togura Onsen, Iron Museum & Kanazawa Matsumoto, Northern; Kanazawa All year 2
Fun in the Snow! Alpine Route (snow corridor), Kamikochi Matsumoto Northern Alps Apr to early Jun 2 Yes
Iiyama (igloo restaurant, sledding), Snow Monkey Northern late Jan to Feb 2 Yes
Japan Alps Trekking Mt. Yari, Mt. Tsubakuro Matsumoto Northern Alps Jul to Sep 4
Michelin 3-Star Kamikochi, Matsumoto Castle, Zenkoji, Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Hida-Takayama Matsumoto, Northern; Wide Area All year (Kamikochi closed in winter) 2 Yes
Shoryudo (Dragon-rise Region) Tsumago, Matsumoto Castle, Kamikochi, Hida-Takayama, Kanazawa Kiso, Matsumoto; Wide Area All year (Kamikochi closed in winter) 3 Yes
Ski in Hakuba Hakuba, Matsumoto Castle Matsumoto Northern Alps Dec to Apr 2
Sakura and Snow Senjojiki Cirque, Kozenji Temple Cherry Blossoms, Miharashi Farm, (Mars Whiskey Distillery) Southern Nagano April to early May 2 Yes

Wildlife and Nature Photography

1st Day

Nagano Sta
Bus 0:45
Kanbayashi
Walk 0:30
Walk + bus 0:40

Yudanaka Shibu Onsen (hot springs) (OR on to Nagano Station area)

2nd Day

Yudanaka Shibu Onsen
Train 0:50
Nagano Sta
Bus 1:10 or rental car

Togakushi (Okusha Inner Shrine, Cedar Trees, Forest Reserve, Mirror Pond)

3rd Day (Rental Car Option)

Togakushi
Car 0:30

Kurohime Highlands and Lake Nojiri

Car 2:00 (+ shuttle bus for Kamikochi)

4th Day (Rental Car Option)

Kamikochi or Shirahone
Car (+ shuttle bus) 1:30
Car 2:00

Lake Kawaguchi / Mt. Fuji

Walking the Samurai Trail (Nakasendo)

1st Day

Nakatsugawa Sta
Kitaena Bus 0:25
Walk 2:30
Train 0:45 (Option)

Kiso Fukushima (Option)
Recommended Activity: Hinoki chopstick making

2nd Day

Tsumago (OR Kiso Fukushima)
Bus to Nagiso Sta 0:10 + train 1:00

(OR train 0:20)

Narai
Walking through the Narai-juku post town

Train 1:00
Matsumoto
Walk 0:15 or bus 0:06

Recommended activity: shopping at Nawate & Nakamachi Street

Bus 0:15

Asama OR Utsukushigahara Onsen (hot springs) (OR Matsumoto Station area)

3rd Day (Option)

Hotel
Bus 0:15 (OR walk)
Matsumoto Sta
Train / bus and walk or rental cycle 0:15
Train / bus and walk or rental cycle 0:15
Matsumoto Sta
Train 0:40
Shimo-Suwa Sta

Shimo-Suwa Onsen (hot springs)
Recommended activity: Walking around the historic post town and seeing the two Suwa Grand Shrine

Samurai and Ninja

1st Day

Nagano Sta
Bus 0:30

Matsushiro (samurai houses)

Bus 0:10

Kawanakajima Battle Site

Bus 0:20
Nagano Sta
Bus 1:10

Togakushi Chusha (middle shrine)
Recommended food: soba noodles

NOTE: For those interested in more serious ninjutsu training, classes can be arranged with Miyashita-san, a Togakure-do ninjutsu practitioner. See here for details.


Matsushiro

Kawanakajima Battle

2nd Day

Togakushi (OR Nagano Station area)
Bus 1:10 (or walk)
Nagano Sta
Train 1:00
Matsumoto
Walk 0:15 or bus 0:06

Recommended activity: shopping at Nawate & Nakamachi Street

Bus + train or bus 1:40
Ueda
Rental cycle 0:10 or walk or bus

Ueda Castle Remains
Recommended activity: shopping at Tourism Center

Rental cycle or walk or bus
Ueda Sta
Train 0:30

3rd Day (Option)

Bessho Onsen
Train 0:30
Ueda Sta
Bus + walk 0:40

Sanada Village (history museum, pre-castle ruins)

Walk + bus 0:30

Ikenami Shotaro Sanada Taiheiki-kan (memorial museum with a ninja corner)

Yanagimachi Historical Street
Recommended activity: shopping

Bus 0:15
Ueda Sta
Train 0:16
Togura
Taxi 0:10
Taxi 0:05

Togura Kamiyamada Onsen (hot springs)
Recommended activity: shopping at Tourism Center


Sanada Village History Museum


Ikenami Shotaro Sanada Taiheiki-kan

Castle, Katana Sword & Geisha

1st Day

Express Bus over the Japan Alps 2:25
Matsumoto
Walk 0:15 or bus 0:06
Walk 0:15
Matsumoto Sta
Train 0:50
Obasute Sta
Hotel Shuttle

Togura Kamiyamada Onsen (hot springs)
Recommended Activity: 30-minute geisha show, nighttime yukata walk to a shateki shooting parlor)

2nd Day

Togura Kamiyamada Onsen
Hotel Shuttle
Togura Sta
Train 0:04
Sakaki Sta
Walk 0:03

Museum of Tetsu (iron) (see works of katana sword by late Miyairi, a Living National Treasure

Walk
Sakaki Sta
Train 0:30
Nagano
Bus 0:10
Bus 0:10 OR walk 0:20
Nagano Sta
Bus 0:45 (Option)
Kanbayashi
Walk 0:30
Walk 0:30
Kanbayashi
Bus 0:45
Nagano Sta
Shinkansen 1:05

Kanazawa


Museum of Tetsu (iron)

Kanazawa Castle (photo by Kanazawa City)

Fun in the Snow! (spring)

1st Day

Toyama
Alpine Route (train, cable car, bus) 3:00
Alpine Route (trolley bus, ropeway,
cable car, bus) 2:00

2nd Day

Omachi Onsenkyo
Bus 0:40
Shinano Omachi Sta
Train 0:40
Matsumoto
Walk 0:15 or bus 0:06
Walk 0:15
Matsumoto Sta
Train + bus 2:00

Fun in the Snow! (winter)

1st Day

Shirakawago (UNESCO world heritage)

Bus 1:30
Toyama
Shinkansen 1:00
Iiyama
Bus 0:10
Bus 0:10
Iiyama Sta
Bus 0:30
Togari Onsen (hot springs)


Kamakura (igloo) Village

2nd Day

Togari Onsen Ski Resort (sledding and/or skiing)

Bus 0:10
Iiyama Sta
Bus 0:40
Kanbayashi
Walk 0:30
Walk 0:30
Kanbayashi
Bus 0:45
Nagano Sta
Shinkansen 1:50
Tokyo

Japan Alps Trekking

1st Day

Bus 1:30
Trek 4:30
Yarisawa Lodge (mountain hut, with bath)


Wildflowers and Forest Trekking

2nd Day

Yarisawa Lodge
Climb 5:00
Down 0:30
Yarigatake Sanso
(mountain hut, no bath/shower)


Mt. Yari

3rd Day

Yarigatake Sanso
Trek 7:30
Enzanso (mountain hut, no bath/shower)


Yarigatake Sanso

4th Day

Enzanso
Climb 1:30

Mt. Tsubakuro (2,763 m / 9,065 ft)

Trek 2:30

Nakabusa Onsen (open air bathing)

Bus 1:00
Hotaka Sta
Train 0:30


Mt. Tsubakuro

Nakabusa Onsen Open Air Bath

Michelin 3-Star ☆☆☆

1st Day

Kanazawa (Kenrokuen garden ☆☆☆, etc.)

Bus 1:00 OR 1:30

Gokayama OR Shirakawago ☆☆☆(UNESCO world heritage)

Bus 1:30 OR 0:50

Hida-Takayama ☆☆☆

Bus 1:30

Kamikochi ☆☆


Gokayama

2nd Day

Kamikochi
Bus + train 2:00
Matsumoto ☆☆
Walk 0:15 or bus 0:06

Matsumoto Castle ☆☆☆

Taxi 0:10 (Option)

The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum ☆☆ (Option)

Matsumoto Sta
Train 1:00
Nagano ☆
Bus 0:10

Shoryudo (Dragon-rise Region, Wide Area)

1st Day

Nagoya
Train 1:00
Nakatsugawa
Kitaena Bus 0:25
Walk 2:30 or Ontake Bus 0:30

2nd Day

Tsumago
Ontake Bus 0:10 or walk 0:50
Nagiso Sta
Train 1:00
Matsumoto
Walk 0:15 or bus 0:06
Taxi 0:10
Taxi 0:05
Oniwa
Train + bus 2:00

3rd Day

Kamikochi
Bus 1:30
Bus 0:50

Shirakawago (UNESCO world heritage)

Bus 1:30

Kanazawa


Hida-Takayama

Ski in Hakuba

1st Day

Tokyo
Shinkansen 1:40
Nagano
Bus 0:45 (Option)
Kanbayashi
Walk 0:30
Walk 0:30
Kanbayashi
Bus 0:45
Nagano Sta
Express Bus 1:00

2nd Day

Hakuba
Train 1:30
Matsumoto
Walk 0:15 or bus 0:06
Train
Kofu (Mt. Fuji) / Shinjuku

Sakura and Snow in the Ina Valley

Travel up to the top of Japan’s first ropeway and enjoy snowshoeing at the base of majestic Senjojiki Cirque, followed by cherry blossom-viewing at one of the area’s most ancient temples. Enjoy delicious locals foods and strawberry-picking as well! A great trip for nature lovers and gourmands.

See this accompanying blog post for a closer look into this course.

1st Day

Shinjuku Station (Tokyo)
Limited Express Azusa train (2:20)
Okaya Station
Iida line train (1:10)
Komagane Station
Shirabidaira Ropeway Station
Komagatake Ropeway

Senjojiki Cirque
A natural amphitheatre carved out of the side of the Central Japanese Alps. At over 2,612 meters high, the area is covered in snow even during May. During spring, you can snowshoe around the vast fields at the base of the cirque and enjoy incredible views of the Southern Japanese Alps across the valley.

Komagatake Ropeway
Shirabidaira Ropeway Station
Suganodai Bus Center
Walk (0:10)

Optional: Mars Whiskey Distillery
Take a tour of this whiskey distillery and enjoy tastings of its many blended and single cask whiskey varieties.

Walk (15 to 20 min.)
Hotel (Hayataro Onsen)
Optional: Walk (15 to 20 min.)

Optional: Kozenji Temple’s Cherry Blossoms Illumination
Kozenji Temple, one of the area’s most revered and ancient temples, has over 70 weeping cherry blossom trees. They bloom during mid- to late April. During the evenings, the trees and temple grounds are illuminated with spotlights and candles until 21:00.


Mars Whiskey Distillery

Kozenji Temple’s Cherry Blossom s (nighttime)

2nd Day

Hotel (Hayataro Onsen)
Walk (0:15)

Kozenji Temple’s Cherry Blossoms
Kozenji Temple is one of the area’s most revered and ancient temples. Weeping cherry trees bloom during mid- to late April. During the day, you can see views of the weeping cherries with the snow-capped Southern Japanese Alps in the distance.

Walk (0:15)
Suganodai Bus Center
Komagane Station
Iida line train (0:21)
Inashi Station

Miharashi Farm
This agricultural activity center provides fruit-picking, cooking lessons, and outdoor activities like mountain biking. From January to the beginning of June, strawberry-picking is available in its many greenhouses.

Inashi Station
Iida line train (1:10)
Okaya Station
Limited Express Azusa train (2:20)
Shinjuku Station (Tokyo)

Kozenji Temple’s Cherry Blossoms (daytime)

Mountain biking at Miharashi Farm