My family is going to tokyo and staying in ueda, nagano from april 8 to 10. My mom really wants to see snow so I want to ask if there are any places we can go to that has snow in early april. What is the best way to go from tokyo to ueda, nagano and back?
I would also like to try the bus tour that will go straight to the ice wall in Nagano, can you give me details on it.
Thanks in advance for the help.
The Japanese Alps are still covered in snow during April and many ski resorts are still open, but many winter activities end at the end of March. One area where you can enjoy the snow is Nabekura Kogen outside of Iiyama City (31 min. from Ueda Station to Iiyama Station by Shinkansen, ~3,000 yen; then a 50 minute bus ride to Mori-no-Ie lodge). They plan to offer snowshoeing until mid-April this year.
Another place to enjoy snow in April is at Senjojiki Cirque, a mountainous area over 2,600 meters in altitude. It is located outside of Komagane City in southern Nagano. Due to the altitude, the area still has plenty of snow well into spring. From Nagano Station to Komagane Station, the journey may take between 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on the type of train. You can see available train routes using the Hyperdia Website.
If you would just like to walk in the snow, then you could visit Shigakogen ski resort, north of the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. They plan to stay open until the beginning of May so you can visit, walk in the snow, and enjoy some coffee or lunch at one of the restaurants at the resort. To reach Shigakogen from Nagano City, you would take the Nagano Dentetsu Shigakogen line bus.
The snow walls at the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route will not be open until April 15th, so unfortunately you will not be able to see them during your trip.
Regarding transportation between Tokyo, Ueda, and Nagano, the fastest option is the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Ueda is about 85 minutes from Tokyo by shinkansen, and Nagano is about 12 minutes away from Ueda by shinkansen. If you plan to travel between them frequently, you may be interested in purchasing the JR East Nagano-Niigata Pass to save some money on fares. Or, if you’d like to save some extra money, you can take the local Shinano railway line between Ueda and Nagano, which takes about 45 minutes.
I hope that helps answer your question.