Hi, We will becoming to Japan next October, already booked our flight. 4 night,3 days Tokyo. Then I had booked to go Nikko on the next day Saturday. for Autumn colour , Have since been advised it will be packed and difficult getting to see the sights I had highlighted ( 2 waterfalls and the lake ). My plans were then next day Nagano 1 night. to go the following day on the Famous Alpine Route to finish it at Kanazawa for 2 nights. So please shall I make it 2 nights Nagano ? where can I go for lovely sightseeing/ autumn colour. I will have a 14 day rail pass.Is it any good locally? Do not mind if not.I have to say I am 83 now but quite fit , so walking no problem though not long uphill climbs ( my knees do not like Ha ha ) In the last 7/8 years we have toured New Zealand 5 times from the top to bottom., Fantastic. But Japan has always been a place “To Visit ” So please I have asked a big question, where do you advise us to go before the Alpine route day? How do I get to the places you recommend? ( Make it easy to understand folks Ha ha ) I am a ex UK citizen retired to Thailand. Will appreciated all advice to enjoy Japan ( Really looking forward to the world famous Japan Rail journeys)
There are plenty of great places to see autumn leaves in Nagano prefecture depending on when you arrive. I posted a blog about some lovely leaf-viewing areas earlier this autumn that you can see here.
If you’re traveling to Nagano earlier than mid October, you can see autumn leaves by taking a gondola up to some of Nagano’s highland areas. Tsugaike Kogen is about 1,800m high and has beautiful autumn colors in early October. There are relatively flat trekking courses around the plateau with beautiful views of the mountains. A roundtrip gondola ride costs 3,600 yen.
Access: From Nagano Station’s east exit, take the Hakuba line bus to the Tsugaike Kogen stop. Ride the gondola all the way to the top of Tsugaike Kogen.
Kamikochi is another famous area to see autumn leaves and has majestic views of the Northern Japanese alps. The basin is flat and easy to walk, and there are plenty of well-maintained walking paths in the area. Autumn leaf viewing season is usually from mid to late October. You can see more information about the area on their website.
Access: From Nagano Station’s east exit, take the Nagano-Kamikochi line bus directly to Kamikochi.
Or, From Nagano Station, take the Shinonoi line to Matsumoto Station. Then, take the Alpico line train from Matsumoto Station to Shinshimashima Station. Finally, board the Kamikochi line bus to Kamikochi.
You can see the timetables for both bus lines here.
When looking up train times, I highly recommend the Hyperdia website. If you type in your starting and ending train stations it will search for available trains for you.
I hope that helps to answer your question!
Hi Blair, Thank you very much for your detailed reply. Wow it looks great. Your pictures of Takai Bridge and Kaganike Pond were great .( Not sad I will not be going to Nikko now ) In fact how do I prioritize ? Please dare I ask? whats do-able?( Bad english ) Will arrive approx 11.00 ish using the super Bullet Train ( can not wait ) In your opinion, which one that day and the full next day. Taking in mind we will not be familiar
with anything and will not be able to speak Japanese. But sure, fumble our way around, slowly.Ha Ha. Also not sure weatherwise. Not too cold I hope. Wow am getting excited all ready. Thanks again Barry
I apologize for the late reply.
I would recommend visiting Togakushi on your first day because it is accessible from Nagano City. You can take the Togakushi line bus from Nagano Station to Togakushi in one hour and visit the Kagamiike pond as well as the Okusha Shrine (and stop for some soba noodles if you’re hungry). The Okusha Shrine has a beautiful lane of huge, 400 year old cedar trees that shouldn’t be missed.
After you return to Nagano, you could visit Zenkoji temple or head directly to Matsumoto and visit Matsumoto Castle. Depending on your choice, stay in Nagano City or Matsumoto.
On your second day, visit Kamikochi or Tsugaike Kogen for the whole day (both accessible from Matsumoto or Nagano City).
The weather in Nagano isn’t too cold in October (about 10C near the city) but it can drop quickly in mountains and at high altitudes, so be sure to bring warm jackets with you.
Let me know if you have any other questions!