New 2-Day and 4-Day Bus Passes to Enjoy Kamikochi and Beyond

June 1st, 2010 by
Category: Information

Many foreign tourists travel around Japan using a JR Rail Pass. But when they get to Nagano Prefecture, they are hit with the realization that most of the most popular destinations like Kamikochi, Togakushi and Jigokudani Snow Monkeys (as well as my onsen town, Togura-Kamiyamada) all require non-JR transportation. Then there’s the issue of getting from Hida Takayama to Matsumoto, two major “Inbound” tourist destinations. Using JR would take over 5 hours to go around the Alps. However, another option would be the trans-Alps bus that takes just over 2 hours.

Well, the people at Alpico Bus have apparently been listening, and have come up with the following 2 new bus passes that are perfect for people wanting to explore the Matsumoto – Kamikochi – Hida Takayama area:

Alpico Bus's 2 new Passes

Alpico Bus's 2 new Passes

2 Day Free Passport Kamikochi / Norikura
*Price: 5,000 yen for adults, 2,500 yen for children
*Area: Kamikochi, Shirahone and Norikura to the west, Matsumoto, Asama Onsen and Utsukushigahara to the east.
*Availability: Buy at the Matsumoto Bus Terminal or Shin Shimashima Station from 01-April 2010 until 31-March 2011.
This pass covers Nagano’s most spectacular scenic spot, Kamikochi, which is also the launching area for mountaineers to climb the Japanese Alps, as well as secluded Shirahone onsen with its milky white hot spring waters and Norikura, outdoor sports paradise. Then you can ride back down to Matsumoto and see its world-famous castle, take a dip in the hot springs at Asama and Utsukushigahara Onsens, before riding back up to the panoramic views from Utsukushigahara Kogen.

4 Day Alps Wide Shinshu/Hida Free Passport
*Price: 10,000 yen for adults, 5,000 yen for children
*Area: Same as the 2-day pass PLUS Hida Takayama, Shirakawago, Shinhotaka Onsen and Gero Onsen
*Availability: Buy at the Matsumoto Bus Terminal, Shin Shimashima Station, and Takayama or Gero Bus Centers from 01-April 2010 until 31-March 2011.
Included in this Pass are the impeccably restored neighborhoods of Hida Takayama, the world heritage thatched roof farmhouses of Shirakawago, Shinhotaka Onsen on the western side of the Alps, and Gero Onsen, known from long ago as one of Japan’s top 3 onsens.

Fellow Nagano Inbound Ambassador Tom-san reports that Kamikochi is in fine spring form, so take advantage of these new passes from Alpico and enjoy!

For more information, contact Matsumoto Dentetsu at 0263-28-3111
And/or check out the official Kamikochi website.

77 Responses to “New 2-Day and 4-Day Bus Passes to Enjoy Kamikochi and Beyond

  1. Pingback: Visiting Kamikochi and Norikura Hot Spring by the New 2-day Bus/train Pass « Nagano Ambassadors Blog

  2. Hi, could someone advise me if i can start my 4D Alps pass at Shinrakawa go? If so, can i purchase my pass there or at Kanazawa?

  3. Andrea-san,

    Thank you for the question.
    Per the website
    (http://www.alpico.co.jp/mrc/tickets/pdf/wide20100730e.pdf)
    the 4-day Alps pass is available at the following 4 locations:
    *Matsumoto Bus Terminal
    *Shin-Shimashima Station (the gateway to Kamikochi)
    *Takayama Bus Center
    *Gero Bus Center

    Perhaps you could take the train from Kanazawa to Takayama and buy the pass there.

    For more info, call Matsumoto Dentetsu at 0263-28-3111

    I hope you enjoy your stay in the Alps!

  4. Are there restrictions on luggage on board? As we are tourists travelling from point to point, it will be difficult to back track. Hence, please advise so we can decide if this 4D pass is an option for us.

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  5. Annie-san, Thank you for your inquiry. I just spoke with the operator, Matsumoto Dentetsu (Tel# 0263-28-3111), and they confirmed there are no baggage restrictions. As a suggestion, takkyubin parcel service is an economical way to forward your luggage to your next destination. That may allow you to travel more lightly. But if you do want to keep your bags with you as you use the 4 day pass, you are okay to take them on the bus with you. Good luck!

  6. I’m planning the itinerary below and wondering if the 4-day pass makes sense?

    Day 1 – Tokyo to Matsumoto by Bus, visit Matsumoto

    Day 2 – from Matsumoto, visit Narai, Tsumago and Magome, then travel onwards to Takayama
    – is it best here to go back to Matsumoto and get a bus to Takayama, or go straight from Magome to Takayama?

    Day 3 – from Takayama, visit Kamicochi

    Day 4 – from Takayama, visit Shirakawa-go

    Day 5 – Takayama to Kyoto by bus

    If we buy the 4 day pass, which of these journeys will the pass cover? From my understanding, it would cover transport from Matsumoto to Takayama, then from Takayama to Kamicochi and Shirakawa-go, but not cover our journey to Narai, Tsumago and Magome? Is this correct? And it would not cover the journey from Tokyo and to Kyoto – correct?

    Many thanks in advance for any advice.

    Sion.

  7. Sion-san, Thank you for your interest in the Alps Wide Free Passport. I will try to answer your questions.

    *Kamikochi is in between ‘Moto and Takayama so I suggest changing your itinerary accordingly (as per pricing below).

    *The pass would cover the following (with normal fares in parentheses):
    Matsumoto-Kamikochi (2,400)
    Kamikochi-Shinshimashima (1,900)
    Shinshimashima-Takayama (3,000)
    Takayama-Shirakawago (4,300 rt)
    Total 11,600 yen.
    So the Pass (10,000) would save you 1,600 yen. It would also save you the hassle of stopping and paying each time.

    *Tokyo and Kyoto are NOT covered by the pass.

    *Tsumago can be accessed from Matsumoto via JR trains. Tsumago/Magome to Takayama is outside my area of expertise (that’s Gifu Pref., not Nagano).

    Pricing info was from Matsumoto Dentetsu (Alpico) http://www.alpico.co.jp (limited English) and Nohi Bus http://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/ websites.

    I hope you enjoy your trip!

  8. We will arrive Matsumoto this weekend and will buy the 2 day pass.
    Plse advise
    1) is travelling on the excursion bus around Norikura area included in the pass ;
    2) is there any railway stations between Matsumoto and Shinshimashima station, if so, can we alight ;
    3) is apple picking still available. If so, where and how can we go.
    Appreciate your advise.

  9. Theresa-san, Thank you for your interest in Kamikochi. To answer your questions,
    1. Per http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/ticket/pdf/2day20110401.pdf, travel to Norikura Kogen Heights is included. Norikura to Hirayu is not.
    2. Yes there are railway stations between ‘Moto and Shinashimashima and yes you may alight.
    3. Yes, apple picking is in high season currently. Please be more specific about the general area you wish to go picking. For example, there is an apple orchard nearby our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada with English speaking staff, www.sky.hi-ho.ne.jp/crown-farm/. If you stay at an inn in Togura-Kamiyamada, most will offer to pick you up at Obasute Station (approx. 45 min. from Matsumoto on JR Shinonoi Line). Then Crown Farm provides free pick-up from your inn.

    I hope you enjoy Kamikochi this weekend. The fall leaves should be pretty!

  10. Hi,

    We are planning a trip to Japan, flying in to Tokyo from 21st Nov to 4th Dec.

    We will like to spend around 7-9 days in Nagano and Gifu area but we are not sure if buying JR pass or getting the 2-4day bus pass is cheaper to travel to these areas below?

    We will like to try to save on the transport cost and hope you can provide some help to guide us. Thank you!

    -Nagano (Karuizawa, Shiraito Falls, Tateyama – Alpine Route, Yamanouchi – Snow Monkey, Shibu Onsen)
    – Gifu (Takayama, Furukawa, Shirakawa-go, Okuhida, Shin Hotaka Ropeway)

  11. Dear Yen-san,

    Thank you for writing to us at “Go! Nagano”.

    Here are our answers and suggestions for your questions about your trip plan to Nagano:

    About Route 1
    Nagano (Karuizawa, Shiraito Falls, Tateyama – Alpine Route, Yamanouchi – Snow Monkey, Shibu Onsen)

    If you take JR trains (Narita Airport Station→Karuizawa Station→Nagano Station) (Shinano Omachi Station→Matsumoto Station), the fee is probably 7,440 yen + 3,070 yen + 650 yen. JR East pass is 20,000 yen for 5 days, and JR pass (you can use it for Route 2 below as well, and all of JR lines throughout Japan) is 37,800 yen for 7 days. These passes are convenient. It depends on the rest of your trip which pass is cheaper.

    ■Recommended Route
    【To Karuizawa】
    ・Narita or Haneda→Tokyo Station→(by JR Shinkansen 1 hour) Karuizawa

    【To Shiraito Falls】※Please note that the fall leaves may have already fallen.
    ・ Karuizawa Station→(by Kusakaru Kotsu Bus 25 min.) Shiraito Falls→(by Kusakaru Kotsu Bus 25 min.)Karuizawa Station

    【To Shibu Onsen】
    ・ Karuizawa Station→(by JR Shinkansen 25 min. or Shinano Railway 90 min.) Nagano Station→(by Nagano Dentetsu 50min.)→Yudanaka Station→(by taxi or by Nagano Dentetsu Bus bound for Kambayashi 7 min.) Shibu Onsen (Snow Monkey Park)

    【To Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route】
    ※ Please note that Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route is open only till November 30.
    ・ Shibu Onsen→Yudanaka Station→Nagano Station (Go back the same route)
    ・ Bus stop at Nagano Station East Exit→(by Alpico Kotsu Bus 1 hour 45 min.) Ogisawa Station/Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route

    ■Websites to buy passes
    JR Line(English) 
    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/eastpass/index.html 

    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/eastpass/pdf/pamphlet.pdf (EAST PASS)
    Shibu Onsen(English)
    http://www.yudanaka-shibuonsen.com/tv 
    Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route (English)
    http://www.alpen-route.com/english/

    About Route 2
    ・Gifu (Takayama, Furukawa, Shirakawa-go, Okuhida, Shin Hotaka Ropeway)

    ■Recommended Route

    【Excursion in Gifu】
    ・ Ogisawa Station→(Alpico Kotsu Bus 40 min.) Shinano Omachi Station→(JR Oito Line 1 hour)Matsumoto Station

    You can buy Alps Wide Free Passport, but at Alpico Kotsu Bus Terminal at Matsumoto Station East Exit. This pass (10,000 yen for 4 days) may be more convenient and cheaper for you depending upon your itinerary. Separate bus tickets fares are as follows:
    Matsumoto Station→Takayama 3,100 yen
    Takayama→Shirakawago 2,400 yen
    Please see the following website to buy Alps Wide Free Passport:
    ■Alpico Kotsu Information for the pass purchase (English) http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/ticket/pdf/wide20110401e.pdf

    ・If you take express buses from Tokyo to Nagano/Gifu areas, it will be cheaper.
    ■Information about express buses (English)
    http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2366.html

    We hope this will help you plan your trip to Nagano!

  12. we need to catch a highway bus from Nagano to Shinjuku on Tuesday 7 February 2012. Can you tell us how?

  13. Hello, and thank you for all the helpful information! I would very much like to purchase a 4-day bus pass for my trip, but I will not be arriving in Takayama until April 14. Will it be possible to purchase a pass still? If not, would it be possible to buy one and have it sent in the mail?

  14. Michelle-san,
    Thank you for your comment and your interest in Nagano. I stopped by the Alpico bus office to inquire about their 4-day bus pass. Currently it is set to expire 31-March. As of now, they haven’t officially decided to extend it. If/when they do and let me know, I will revert to you asap.
    Thanks!
    Tyler

  15. Hi, after arriving nagoya we are heading to kanazawa,shirakawago than takayama for 5 days. we are thinking of buying the 4 day bus pass shinshu hida from takayama. start using it on the day we leave takayama and travel to kamikocki for a day trip than leaving kamikocki in afternoon for matsumoto for 3 nights. while base ourself in matsumoto, we will use the reminding 3 day pass utsukushigahara, kiso valley.
    Could you advice whether is it worth it for us to buy the 4 day pass for above journey or kindly give us your advice. Thank you

  16. Hi!
    I know this is still far ahead but I am visiting Japan Apr 12th-25th and planning to do the Alpine route after a few days in Tokyo. I read that the pass is extended till March 2013. If it is extended further I would really appreciate it if you can help me see whether it is cheaper to get the pass for my route. Below is my itinerary – dates, destinations, mode of transportation and pricing :

    16th Tokyo – Matsumoto Alpico OR Keio Bus 2,975yen**
    17th Matsumoto – Takayama Nohi Bus 3,100yen
    18th Takayama – Hida Furukawa JR Takayama Line 460yen (Ret)
    19th Takayama – Kanazawa Nohi Bus (Stopover in Shirakawago) 4,200yen
    22nd Kanazawa – Toyama JR LTD.EXP THUNDERBIRD 1 950yen
    23rd Toyama – ShinanoOmachi 6 modes of transportation (Non JR) 10,560yen
    23rd S’ Omachi – Matsumoto JR Oito Line 650yen
    24th Matsumoto – Shinjuku Alpico OR Keio Bus 2,975yen
    **Block of 2 tickets pricing divided by 2 for use on return journey

    Secondly, I have an additional day to spare. Would you be able to recommend whether I should extend another night somewhere (amongst my current destinations) or add another destination? Perhaps an Onsen Village that is near or along the route? However, for the Onsen Village, I would like somewhere that is not remote and has something else to see, like small shops, scenery, and easily accessible.
    Currently I plan to stay Matsumoto 1 night – Takayama 2 nights – Kanazawa 3 nights – Toyama 1 night – Matsumoto 1 night. I will fly in and out of Tokyo, thus the loop route.

    Thanks!
    Mel

  17. Sorry for late reply. Per Nagano Pref. Tourism Assoc.,
    Takayama→Nakanoyu  1800yen(65min)
    Nakanoyu→Kamikochi 750yen(13min)
    kamikochi→matsumoto 2400yen(115min)
    Total for this part of the itinerary, 4,950 yen, all via Alpico Bus.

    4-day pass costs 10,000 yen, and doesn’t cover Utsukushi-ga-hara Heights or Kiso. So it’s more economical to pay for each leg separately.

  18. Melanie-san,

    Per Nagano Pref. Tourism Assoc.,

    In verifying your 8-day itinerary proposal,
    On the 22nd, using the JR Ltd. Exp. “Thunderbird” would cost 2,610 yen (37 min.). Using a local train would cost 950 yen (62 min.).
    Everything else looks fine. There don’t seem to be any cheaper alternatives.

  19. First I would like to say that as a keen hiker I have visited Nagano many times and I have always had a great experience.

    I purchased the 2 day pass for Kamikochi / Norikura last weekend (Sunday, Monday). Unfortunately I wasn’t very satisfied and it ended up costing me more money rather than saving money.

    First our bus on Sunday was delayed by one hour because of a traffic jam. The traffic was actually rather light seeing it was midday in the middle of a 3 day weekend. The cause was construction that closed a 10 meter section of the road forcing the traffic to alternate on the remaining open lane. I appreciate though that this is outside the control of the bus company but it does have a negative impact on the overall experience.

    The next day on Monday we turned up at 10h30 to take the 10h40 bus to Norikura only to be told that there were no seats left on the bus. If we wanted to use our “free pass” we had to wait for the next bus at noon which would leave us virtually no time to visit Norikura. The only alternative, which we decided to take, was to buy a ticket with another bus company (nouhi) leaving at 11am that would cost us 2100 yen each.

    It seems that only in Kamickochi you have to get the boarding pass in advance. This is unfortunate since it would have been a simple matter to get the 10h40 bus tickets after arriving at the bus terminal the day before, but we never knew about this. It is not written on the ticket nor were we informed of this when we purchased the tickets at the bus terminal the day before.

    So in the end we had to pay 2100 yen extra each because we couldn’t get on the bus the time we wanted even though we both had a 2 day free pass. How can I go around getting this money back?

  20. David-san,
    Thanks for your comment. I am sorry to hear your experience with the Kamikochi 2-day pass was such a disaster. All of Alpico’s literature for it just talks about how easy it makes everything. I don’t recall seeing any suggestions to make seat reservations which seems advisable for peak times (weekends / holidays / summer vacation season).
    Please understand that Go-Nagano is the official website for the Nagano Prefectural Tourism Association, and not customer service for the bus company, Alpico. I will forward your complaint to the proper person at the Tourism Assoc. that has contact with Alpico and inquire about arranging for a refund. No guarantees but will try to right this wrong for you.

  21. Tyler, thank for your answer and thank you for forwarding my complaint to the proper person (haven’t heard from them yet though).

    Actually having traveled extensively around Japan even at peak times, this was my first experience of having to actually reserve a (non-highway) bus seat in advance. In other places, if the bus company expects many people, they simply send a second bus.

    I think that simply adding one line to the English text on the free passday such as “Seats on buses leaving Kamikochi require advance reservation” would be very helpful. There is actually a line that says “Some lines require an additional boarding pass before boarding, please check the website for more detail”. This is not very helpful since it is difficult to check the website after you have purchased the ticket (as you are on the road).

    If you could also forward this last comment to the person in charge of ticket design it would be most appreciated.

  22. David-san, Please be advised that I forwarded your claim to the Nagano Pref. Tourism Assoc. They initially replied that nothing could be done, but then followed up that the matter is being considered. I forwarded them your add’l comment. Will revert if/when I receive a reply. Thank you for your patience.

  23. Tyler, I have been contacted by someone from the Nagano Pref. Tourism Association. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

  24. Hi again!

    I will travel with 3 other friends from Shinjuku to Matsomoto on Apr 16th then return on the 25th. We will just buy the normal tickets. I know that they sell tickets in block. Individual ticket at ¥3400; Block of 2 at ¥5950; block of 4 at ¥11900. Can these blocks be split and shared? If can then the four of us just buy 1 block to go and 1 block for return. Then we only need to pay ¥2975 each instead of ¥3400 per one way. Our travel is not valid for a round trip ticket since that must be completed within a week. I really can’t find an answer to this query and would really appreciate an answer…

  25. Melanie-san, Thanks for your question. Will check with the Nagano Tourism Association and revert. Thanks! -Tyler

  26. Rabbit-san,
    Sorry for the late reply. I checked pricing and came up with the following:
    Matsumoto – Takayama bus 5,000 yen round-trip,
    Takayama – Gero Onsen bus 2,020 yen round-trip.
    Per http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/ticket/wide_free.html, the 4-day pass has been extended to March 2013. Cost is 10,000 yen. Buying tickets individually would be cheaper. Perhaps if you extended your itinerary to include (for example) Shirakawago, then the pass would be better.
    Regarding ‘natural onsen resort’, I highly suggest Shirahone Onsen, http://www.go-nagano.net/modules/contents07/index.php?id=1&mode=disdetailsisetu&cityid=2&junleid=6&indexid=5&kubuncode=3.
    Regarding including Karuizawa, transit options are a bit limited. From Matsumoto, you could take a bus to Ueda, changing at Kakeyu. Then from Ueda, either Nagano Shinanksen (bullet train) or local Shinano Railway to Karuizawa. Or, also from Matsumoto, you could take the JR Shinonoi Line (local or express) towards Nagano City, changing at Shinonoi Station to the local Shinano Railway to Karuizawa. (Or, take the JR Shinonoi line all the way to Nagano City, and Nagano Shinkansen to Karuizawa. Could be quite expensive but would be free if you have a JR Rail Pass.)
    If you do decide to include Gero in your itinerary, I would suggest going from Tokyo straight to Gero, then enjoying Takayama – Matsumoto as a 1-way trip. And from Matsumoto, return to Tokyo via Karuizawa.
    If, for example, you pick Shirahone Onsen instead of Gero, you cold take a train or highway bus from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station to Matsumoto, enjoy Shirahone – Takayama round trip back to Matsumoto, then return to Tokyo via Karuizawa.
    Lastly, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to book accommodation asap for 31-Dec and 01-Jan as those are peak holidays in Japan.
    I hope this info is helpful. If any other questions, feel free to ask and I promise to reply more quickly!

  27. Hi,
    I am planning to fly in to Tokyo on July 15 2013 and would like to go the Alps , firstly Kaiboichi/Norikura and secondly the Kurobe Alpine Pass
    Can you please suggest how I should go about doing it
    Thanks

  28. Soh-san, Thank you for your inquiry, and for your interest in the Japanese Alps.

    For your first destination, Norikura and Kamikochi (I assume that’s what you mean by Kaiboichi), from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station take either highway bus or JR Ltd. Express “Azusa” to Matsumoto, the gateway to Norikura and Kamikochi. Details at http://kamikochi.org/.

    For your 2nd destination, the Kurobe / Tateyama Alpine Pass, access is via Omachi, approx. 1 hour by train from Matsumoto. Details at http://www.alpen-route.com/english/

    I hope this info is helpful. If any other questions, feel free to ask.

  29. Hi,
    I understand that this bus pass is until 3nd March, what’s the chance that it will run in autumn ?
    What are the places/route that this pass will cover which the JR pass will not do ?
    How do you propose if I wish to visit Takayama, Kamikochi, Kiso Valley for Narai, Magome – Tsumano hike, Shirakawa-go(Ogimachi), Gero Onsen, Kanazawa. My entry/exit points may be Ishikawa, Fukui, Toyama, Gifu as I will be using the Willer Express buses.
    Thank you.

  30. Stanley-san, Thanks for your interest in Kamikochi. The bus company is probably in the process of updating their bus pass info for the new fiscal year (starts 01-Apr) and from the current white season to the green season. I suspect the pass will be extended for another year, and suggest you check the website again in April.
    To answer your questions,
    JR Pass would not cover anything between Matsumoto and Hida Takayama, including Kamikochi.
    But if you’re using Willer Express buses, then JR Pass wouldn’t be necessary, no?
    2-Day Kamikochi Pass (http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/ticket/2day_pass.html) would cover Matsumoto and Kamikochi.
    4-Day Pass (http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/ticket/wide_free.html) would cover Matsumoto and Kamikochi, as well as Hida Takayama, Shirakawa-go and Gero Onsen.
    Neither pass covers Kiso Valley (Narai-juku, Magome, Tsumago — for these, JR is best), or Kanazawa.
    Regarding routes / entry point / exit point, etc., too much depends on personal preference and what you are interested in, and especially where you plan on staying at night. For example, making Kamikochi your base and making side trips from there vs. spending each night in different places as you transit through.
    Note: there is a 3rd pass that combines the above 4-Day one with express bus from Shinjuku/Tokyo (http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/ticket/wide_free.html#marumaru), so that way you’d have more flexibility than with your plan to use Willer.
    Good luck!

  31. Hello 🙂

    After reading so much I`m a little confused. We are planning to go to takayama at the 28.3.13 and see a few attractions from 29.3 – 1.4.
    We are planning to go from takayama one day to kamikochi and one day to shirakawago. Than we are going for 2 days for nagano and wanted to go to and onsenmatsumoto and youdanka.

    Is it possible to purchase the ticket at takayama?
    Will it be working for 4 days? Or maybe just till the 31.3?
    Should we get the 4 days pass?

    Thank you very much!!!
    Rona

  32. If takayama and shirakawago and Matsumoto then 4-day pass probably would be best. Check at takayama bus center to verify. Kamikochi not open until late April. Yudanaka not covered by pass. For onsen, you can use the pass for shirahone. Sorry for short reply, but am remote currently.

  33. Hello,
    My husband and I would like to visit Kamikochi from August 9th-12th. It seems to be extremely difficult to find hotels in Kamikochi, so I wanted to get your advice.

    Should we stay in Matsumoto? And if so, should we buy the 2 day pass so we can visit Kamikochi? How much is it, where do we get it, and what does it include? Is this the closest city to stay in? Also, do you have any feedback on where we should stay in Matsumoto? Thanks for your help!

  34. Morgan-san, Thank you for your interest in Kamikochi. August 9th-12th is peak travel season which maybe is why it is difficult finding availability. Accommodation info for Kamikochi at http://www.kamikochi.org/special-offers.
    Central Matsumoto is the closest city to Kamikochi, but there are accommodations at the entrance to Kamikochi around the Hirayu parking area and Shin-shimashima train station. Central Matsumoto will give you the greatest amount of options, though. Check the Matsumoto-area accommodations guide on the Go-Nagano website, http://www.go-nagano.net/modules/contents08/index.php?id=1&mode=stayfind&findtype=finda&kubuncode=&stayid1=&stayid2=&area1=02&area2=&cityid=&areaid=&indexid=&pageid=&mapchk=&locahash=1&fword=, and/or the official Matsumoto website, http://welcome.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp/contents09+index.htm.
    2-Day Matsumoto/Kamikochi/Norikura Pass includes those 3 areas as well as nearby Shirahone Onsen (which may be another option for your accommodations search). Price is 5,000 yen and can be purchased at the Matsumoto Bus Terminal across the street from JR Matsumoto Station. http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/ticket/2day_pass.html
    I hope you enjoy Kamikochi and the Japanese Alps!

  35. Hello from Australia.
    I have booked a one night stay at Kamikochi for Friday 8 November.
    Is the 2 day pass available.
    How do I find a train and bus timetable for these days.
    Will the resort definitely be open?
    Thank you for your help.

  36. Margaret-san, Thanks for your inquiry about Kamikochi.
    Train/Bus schedule info is at http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/kamikochi/shinshimashima/#timetable4
    Unfortunately, it’s only in Japanese.
    Basically, you would take the train (電車) from Matsumoto Station 松本駅 to Shin Shimashima Station 新島々駅, transfer to bus バス to Kamikochi 上高地.
    NOTE: Currently the schedule for 11/05/2013-11/15/2013 is still pending, but check the Alpico website again closer to your trip and it should be posted.

    The 2-day pass is showing available through 3/31/2014 so yes, you should be able to purchase it. http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/ticket/2day_pass.html.

    As for whether or not your resort will be open, if they gave you a reservation then yes, they will be open.

    More info on Kamikochi available at http://www.kamikochi.org/. I hope you enjoy the Gateway to the Japanese Alps!

  37. Hi,
    I will be visiting Nagano area next month with my husband and 5-year old daughter
    I intend to buy 4-Day Bus Pass from Matsumoto

    Below is my itinerary :
    Day 1 – Travel from Shinjuku via Highway bus to Matsumoto
    Day 2 – From Matsumoto, visit Kamikochi
    Travel to Takayama (I understand that I should take the bus from Shinshimashima to Takayama, right ? Is there any published bus schedule ? Is there any luggage storage service at Shinshimashima? )
    Day 3 – From Takayama, visit Shinhotaka
    Day 4 – From Takayama, visit Shirakawago
    Day 5 – Explore Takayama city. Travel to Shinjuku via Highway bus

    Please advise if it make sense to buy the 4-Day Bus Pass…this is still valid, right ? (http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/ticket/wide_free.html). Should I buy the one with or without Shinjuku ?

    Does my girl need the pass too ?
    Can I bring my girl to the open air hot spring ?
    Can you recommend an onsen suitable for us, especially my 5yo ?

    Thank you for your help.

  38. Fung-san, Thank you for your inquiry. For complicated questions like this, I think it’s best for the Nagano Tourism Assoc. to answer so I forwarded your inquiry to them. Will revert as soon as they reply. Thanks!

  39. Fung-san, Fellow-blogger and Matsumoto-resident Andy-san came through with the answers for you, as follows:

    > Travel to Takayama (I understand that I should take the bus from
    > Shinshimashima to Takayama, right ?

    From Kamikochi, ride a bus to Hirayu Onsen from Kamikochi bus terminal, then transfer to an express bus to Takayama (i.e., you don’t have to back-track to Shinshimashima).

    > Is there any published bus schedule ?

    Buses to Hirayu Onsen:
    http://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/kamikochi.html

    Hirayu Onsen to Takayama:
    http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/express/matsumoto_takayama/.

    > Is there any luggage storage service at Shinshimashima?

    There are coin lockers. Coin lockers are also in the Matsumoto Bus Terminal and in and near the Matsumoto Station.

    > Please advise if it make sense to buy the 4-Day Bus Pass…this is still
    > valid, right?

    Yes.
    I think the contents in this English brochure
    http://www.alpico.co.jp/mrc/tickets/pdf/wide20100730e.pdf
    are almost the same even this year.

    > Should I buy the one with or without Shinjuku ?

    The Shinjuku bus terminal seems to sell only a set ticket of Shinjuku-Matsumoto + the 4-Day Bus Pass + Takayama-Shinjuku buses, but it is valid only four days.
    So, get the 4-Day Bus Pass in the Matsumoto Bus Terminal when you arrive there.

    > Does my girl need the pass too ?

    No, 5yo seems to be free.

    > Can I bring my girl to the open air hot spring ?

    Yes, if your girl doesn’t hate it because she feels shy.

    > Can you recommend an onsen suitable for us, especially my 5yo ?

    There are many onsen facilities and ryokans in Matsumoto, Hirayu Onsen and Takayama.
    Many of them have open air baths and some have private bath rooms.
    I can’t recommend any specific one.
    It depends on where you stay.
    (Feel free to check out the accommodations listing on the Go-Nagano website. For accommodations in Kamikochi, check out www.kamikochi.org.)

    That’s all from Andy. If I may add one more suggestion, nearby Shirahone Onsen (also accessible using the 4-day pass) has some of the most amazing outdoor onsen baths in the world. Awa no Yu is especially famous.

    If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

    Good luck!

  40. Nana-san, Most convenient would be Yamato’s takkyubin delivery service. Your accommodation in Shinano Omachi should be able to arrange the parcel service to Takayama for you.

  41. Hi,
    My family & I (2 adults, 2 children-12 & 8) will be visiting Japan from 17-31 July 2014. Our itinerary so far is as follows:
    1) 17Jul-20: Tokyo-Shinjuku-Harajuku-Shibuya-Ueno-Asakusa-Akihabara, etc
    2) 20-24Jul: Osaka, Kobe, Nara, Hiroshima
    3) 24-27Jul: Kyoto
    4) 27-28Jul: Takayama, Shirakawa, and hopefully an onsen
    5) 28-29Jul: Kanazawa
    6) 29-30Jul: Togakushi (ninja experience), Matsumoto
    7) 30-31Jul: Tokyo (maybe visit Hakone on the way)

    Not sure how to determine the cheapest transportation to get through all this, so hopefully you may have some suggestions. I realize this may not be the forum to ask, but you’ve been kind enough to reply immediately to others. I tried researching on my own, but it’s all so confusing. I would be most grateful for any help you can extend. Thank you.

  42. Honey-san, Sounds like an amazing summer vacation taking shape.
    A 2-week JR Rail Pass costs 45,100 yen per adult.
    Individual tix would be Tokyo – Shin-Osaka 13,240, RT to Hiroshima 18,880, on to Kyoto 1,380, and Kanazawa 6,200 and Nagano (access to Togakushi) 6,410. That puts you over the price for the JR Rail Pass, so the Matsumoto / Hakone (Kamakura?) on to Tokyo is all free.
    There are highway bus options for most of that itinerary. The price would be approx. 1/2 of individual train tix, but it would take 2-3 times longer. If I were you, I’d rather spend time at the destinations rather than travelling to them.
    Your route doesn’t appear to have any wasteful backtracking in it. My only suggestion would be to save your onsen experience for Nagano Prefecture. There are some onsens close to Nagano City (Togura-Kamiyamada, 25 min., Shibu-Yudanaka 45 min.) as well as some in the city of Matsumoto (Asama, Utsukushigahara).
    Have fun!

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