Hi, we are a family of 2 adults and 2 kids (8 & 12 years old). We planned to travel from Tokyo to Nagano starting on 28 Nov using JR East Pass (Nagano, Niigata area). Is our itinerary doable or too tight for a family trip? Day 1 (stay at Yudanaka) Hokuriku Shinkansen (Tokyo to Nagano) and then continue with Nagano Electric Railway to Yudanaka Day 2 (stay at Yudanaka) Visit Snow Monkey and Shibu Onsen area Day 3 (stay at Nagano) Visit Nagano area eg. Zenkoji temple and the surrounding town Day 4 (stay at Nagano) Hokuriku Shinkansen – Day trip to Karuizawa Day 5 (stay at Omachi) From Nagano, take the JR Shinonoi Line to Visit Matsumoto area JR Chuo LIne – Visit Narai Day 6 (stay at Omachi) JR Oito Line – Visit Omachi area & Hakuba Day 7 (stay at Tokyo) From Omachi, JR Oito Line to Matsumoto and then JR Shinonoi Line to Nagano and lastly Hokuriku Shinkansen back to Tokyo Is the above transportation doable and JR East Pass able to cover all the line as mentioned above? Where can we see snow in Nagano area during the period we are going? We just want to experience snowflake and not for skiing. Thank you.
Your plan looks doable to me! I have one question though: on Day 5 it says you’re staying in Omachi but you only visit Matsumoto and Narai that day, is that a mistake? Other than that, everything looks good.
The JR East Nagano-Niigata Pass covers all of your train travel excepting the Nagano Electric Railway, or Nagano Dentetsu, as its a private railway with no connection to JR.
Nagano’s snowy season usually begins in December, anywhere from the beginning of month to the end depending on the year. You’ll be more likely to find snow up in the mountains, such as Shigakogen (above Yudanaka) or Hakuba, but even then snow might not cover them until mid-December.
If you want to see white winter scenery in late November, then I would recommend the Chuo Alps Ropeway to Senjojiki Cirque. The station at the top of the ropeway is at a height of 2,600 meters and has beautiful mountain scenery. To travel there, you would take the Chuo line train from Matsumoto to Okaya, then the Iida line* to Komagane. Then, you can take the Komagatake ropeway bus (see timetable here) to the ropeway entrance. The trains between Matsumoto and Komagane take around 100 minutes, so you may want a full day for this.
*Iida line is not covered by the JR East Nagano-Niigata pass
I hope that helps answer your question! Let me know if I can help with anything else.
Thank you for your explanation.
For Day 5, we are travelling from Nagano to Omachi but would like to make a stop, perhaps day trip to Matsumoto and Narai before heading to Omachi. As we have JR East Pass, we are planning to take the JR train to Matsumoto. Is JR Shinano Wide Ltd Express covered under this pass as I noted this train is part of JR Central? Another concern that we have would be is there sufficient luggage storage in Matsumoto station or perhaps at Narai station? Should we go straight to Narai first for the 1st half of the day and then back to Matsumoto or vice versa? We planned to head to Omachi around evening time.
Your suggestion to Chuo Alps Ropeway To Senjojiki Cirque seems interesting. We will try to plan whether we can slot in this or to drop one of our attractions.
Thank you and yes your answer do really help us.
I forgot to mention that the JR East Nagano-Niigata pass ends part of the way to Narai from Matsumoto (at Shiojiri), so you will have to pay the train fare for the remainder of the journey: 410 yen.
You can ride the Wide View Shinano train between Nagano and Shiojiri for no additional charges. Because the Wide View Shinano doesn’t stop at Narai Station, you would get off the train at Shiojiri and change to the local Chuo line.
Regarding your baggage, you’ll find ample luggage storage in Matsumoto Station. Narai Station is very small, so I don’t believe you can store your baggage there. Also, if you would like to head to Narai without stopping at Matsumoto, or you would like to travel without carrying your baggage, you can drop your baggage off at the Kuroneko Yamato desk in Nagano Station and have it shipped directly to your hotel in Omachi.