If it's winter activities that interests you and your family, then MATSUMOTO IS YOUR PLACE!
With its central location in Nagano prefecture, Matsumoto City is the perfect base for these exciting winter activities:
Go to Outdoor Activities page for green season information and outdoor sport shop.
There are two ski areas within the city limits of Matsumoto, and there are also many ski areas in the general region.
SKI AREAS WITHIN MATSUMOTO CITY LIMITS (website)
Norikura Highlands Hot Spring Ski Resort (Japanese: Norikura kogen onsen ski jo)
This is the largest ski area in Matsumoto City, at an elevation of from 1,500 to 2,000 meters (6,600 ft.). There are 22 trails and 11 lifts, and with so many beginner and intermediate runs, this is an ideal place for kids and families. For the current winter season, Norikura Highlands Ski Resort is open from December 12, 2009 until March 28, 2010.
Access: Take the Matsumoto Dentetsu Line from Matsumoto to Shin-Shimashima (30 minutes), followed by a bus ride for Kyuka-mura or Shirahone Onsen and get off at Ski Jo Mae (50 minutes to Norikura). There is also one direct bus from the Matsumoto bus terminal.
FREE shuttle bus service(!) operates on Sat, Sun, National Holidays during Jan 9th - Mar 21st , 2010. It leaves Matsumoto Station 7:45 and leaves Norikura ski resort 15:30. The bus has 45 seats. You need reservation by phone (0263-39-8800 9:00-18:00) by every Friday noon. The Japanese web site is here.
Another ski area in Matsumoto:
Nomugi Toge Skiing Area (Japanese: Nomugi Toge ski jo)
The Norikura area is also famous for its Hot Springs.
SKI AREAS IN THE REGION
Area: Hakuba (about 1 1/2 hours by car, bus or train)
- Hakuba 47/Goryu Ski Area (blog article (1/28/2009))
- Happo One Ski Area (1998 Winter Olympics downhill race course!)
- Iwatake Ski Area
- Hakuba Norikura Ski Area
- Kashimayari/Sun Alpina Ski Area
- Yanaba Ski Area (blog article (2/20/2008))
Alpico Bus Matsumoto - Hakuba Line (only in winter)
Well, strap on your snowshoes and head off to Norikura. It's within the city limits and about an hour drive from downtown Matsumoto. Rental equipment is available and plenty of snowy trails await you.
See a blog article Winter Wonderland: Snowshoeing in Kamikochi".
If cross-country skiing is more your thing, the Norikura highlands area of Matsumoto features some beautiful and accessible terrain with a variety of cross-country trails. In winter, there's a free bus to take you from the city center up into the highlands for a refreshing day of downhill or cross-country skiing.
The Hakuba area, which hosted some events in the 1998 Winter Olympics, also offers a cross-country skiing area. As mentioned above in the 'downhill skiing' area, Hakuba is less than 1-1/2 hours from Matsumoto by car, bus or train.
See a blog article Cross-country skiing-a different way to enjoy winter!
The snow in the mountains and chill in the air just add to the fun of hiking in winter! Enjoy many trails in Kamikochi, with access to the spectacular Chubu-Sangaku National Park. The Norikura highlands area also has many trails available for winter hiking (see 'Snowshoeing' section above). There are also many short hikes in the hills surrounding Matsumoto. Why not try the one-hour hike from the Asama Onsen area of Matsumoto up to Lake Misuzu?