Driving at the end of the year

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Naomi B Female Australia 2019/01/22

Hi I am planning to drive from Tokyo to Nagano on 29th of December 2019. I understand that many people in Japan are going back to their home town at the end of the year to spend time with their family for New Year holidays (Jan 1st to 3rd). It usually takes 2.5-3 hours by car but I wonder how heavy traffic will be and how many hours should I expect to drive on the day. My date cannot be changed and I heard it could be very hard to get a train ticket. I appreciate any information. Thanks.

Nagano Prefecture Tourism PR character “Arukuma” 2019/01/22

Hi Naomi,

The end of the year period can be very busy. If you drive, your trip may take 1.5 to 2 times longer than usual (from 4.5 to 6 hours). If you take the train, most assigned seating will be taken, but you can probably get a seat in the free seating area (jiyuuseki) by lining up early, say 30 minutes prior to departure.

I hope that answers your question.


Guest 2019/01/24

Thanks, Blair, yest, it helps me a lot. I used to live in Japan and used to take more than that (loooong time ago) so hopefully, if 6 hours driving is maximum, it should be ok with us. We need to go to Ueda, Togura and Kamiyamada. Do you know any possible road closure because of heavy snow around the area? I guess they are not a ski resort and they won’t have heavy snow unless extreme weather occurs?

Nagano Prefecture Tourism PR character “Arukuma” 2019/01/24

If you plan to travel by highway, there should be no roads along the way that are closed due to heavy snow. Those areas are not known for heavy snow anyway, so I don’t imagine there would be any closures at that time.


Guest 2019/01/24

Thank you, Blair, for the info. A big relief about our plan to Japan then. 🙂

Cheers, Naomi

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