I’m planning to spend about two weeks in Nagano this coming autumn, exploring the mountains around Matsumoto (incl. Kamikochi), Central Alps (e.g. Senjojiki Cirque) and possibly Southern Nagano area as well. I have a choice between the last two weeks of October (Oct 22 – Nov 6) or the first two weeks of November (Oct 27 – Nov 13).
Which time period is more recommended and why?
Thanks for contacting us with your question about Nagano.
You can see a list of popular autumn sightseeing spots around Nagano here. Most of them have autumn colors that last until mid- to late October, possibly until the beginning of November. If you visit the Tenryu Gorge in the southern tip of Nagano, you may be able to see autumn colors in mid-November as well.
Since many of Nagano’s mountainous sightseeing areas, like Kamikochi and Hakuba, have autumn colors until late October, I’d recommend visiting earlier rather than later.
Let me know if you have any other questions!
Thank you very much for your reply!
I do have a couple more questions:
1. What kind of weather should I expect to have around the Northern Alps / Northern Nagano areas during mid- to late October? According to some Japanese yearly weather forecasts that I’ve checked, early November seems a bit more mild and stable than mid- to late October. I guess it depends on the altitude among other factors, but I generally consider 16°C a perfect temperature 🙂
2. Given that I’m not planning to rent a car and rely on public transportation to travel around, which cities/towns would be the best to use as a strategic base to explore the area? I’m considering Matsumoto, but I’m curious about other options.
I’m glad I can be of help! Here are my answers to your follow-up questions:
1. The weather in Nagano during October is usually between 10 to 20°C and gets chilly during the morning and evenings. I recommend bringing some warm layers, as Kamikochi and other high-altitude areas may be even colder.
2. Regarding where to stay, Matsumoto City is centrally located and has a great atmosphere. Matsumoto Castle is in the middle of the city and Kamikochi, Hakuba, and Senjojiki Cirque are all accessible by public transportation. Nagano City also offers direct buses to Kamikochi and Hakuba but is quite far from Senjojiki Cirque. However, it is near Togakushi, another great spot to visit in autumn. If you’re going to be making many day trips to different sightseeing spots around Nagano, I would recommend one of those two cities as a base.
I hope that helps.