The Official Tourism Site of Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan
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ALPICO Plaza (Formerly Ario) Now Open!



Those familiar with the Ario Department Store that closed last year will be happy to hear that the building is reopening with new stores! The basement, 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 7th floors are now open, and the rest of the building will open from April. Tax free shopping will still be available (see stores for details).


Delicia, a chain supermarket of good quality, is located in the basement along with a few eating areas and souvenir shops. If you’re catching a bus from the Matsumoto Bus Terminal, you can do last minute shopping there!



On the 1st floor you’ll find the ALPICO ticket counter. Open 4:40-21:00/22:00-22:30, there you can purchase tickets both at the counter or via ticket machines. Credit cards are accepted. Their waiting area has 35 seats and supplies electric outlets and Wi-Fi access via ALPICO Free Wi-Fi. If you walk past the counter to the back of the waiting area, you’ll find an entrance to the bus boarding platforms. Buses running to Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya as well as more local destinations depart from here.


The new shops will include beauty salons, massage parlors, and clothing and shoes stores.
The 3rd floor’s Avail and the 4th floors Shimamura are already open.
The 7th floor still consists of a 100 yen store and a variety of reasonably priced restaurants that include Japanese, Chinese, and Italian cuisines. If you’re really hungry you can have all-you-can-eat dumplings.
Hopefully the rooftop summer beer garden is re-opened as well!

7th floor


Stay tuned for updates!

Official Site (Japanese only)

Ski Resort Access From Matsumoto 2017-2018 Season

Matsumoto–>Mt. Norikura Snow Resort

Located to the west of central Matsumoto, the resort offers over 20 trails that cater to all levels as well as kid’s park and terrain park areas. Both ski and snow schools are available. Day-trip onsen bathing is also available at Yukemurikan!

FREE Alpico Shuttle Bus (Saturdays/Sundays: Jan 13, 20, 27, and 28; Feb 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 24, and 25; Mar 3, 4, 10, and 17)

*Reservations Required*

Reservations can only be made through Alpico Highland Bus at +81-263-24-1300 Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Dec 28-Jan 4) until noon of the Friday before. The bus has 45 seats. You cannot reserve or change/cancel your reservation at the Matsumoto Bus Terminal or Shin-Shimashima Station.

Depart Bus Stop Return
7:50 Matsumoto Bus Terminal Boarding Point #9 5:20 p.m.
8:10 Matsumoto Godochosha (Pref. Govt. Office) 5:00 p.m.
8:30 Shin-Shimashima Sta. 4:40 p.m.
8:35 Matsumoto City Hall’s Azumi Branch Office 4:35 p.m.
9:25 Yukemurikan (Onsen) 3:45 p.m.
9:30 Mt. Norikura Skow Resort No. 3 Parking Lot 3:40 p.m.


Regular Alpico Bus Shirahone Line

Take the Matsumoto Dentetsu Line from Matsumoto to Shin-Shimashima (30 minutes), then board a bus bound for Kyukamura or Shirahone Onsen and get off at Ski Resort(Ski-Jo Mae) (50 minutes from Shin-Shimashima). There is also one direct bus from the Matsumoto bus terminal. The English timetable is here.



Alpico Bus (until Mar 18, 2018)


One Way

Adult: ¥1,800
Child: ¥900

Round Trip

Adult: ¥2,800
Child: ¥1,400


Reservations (not necessary) & Where to Buy

Oito Line Train

The train runs from Matsumoto Station to Hakuba Station.

Road Trip!! Special Passes for Tourists

Convenient access to some of Japan’s more remote regions with the following ETC (tolls) discount passes.

Central Nippon Expressway Pass (CEP)

Explore the central area of Japan’s largest island.

– Non-Japanese passport if you are a visitor/proof of permanent residence in another country if you are Japanese
– Driver’s license that is valid in Japan  (or International Driving Permit)

The pass can be purchased for a period of as little as 2 days (5,000 yen) and up to 14 days (16,000 yen). Other optional areas can also be added.

For more information on rates, participating rental companies, routes, and more please visit the Central Nippon Expressway Company website.

*NEW* Japan Expressway Pass (JEP)

The new, expanded special discount ETC pass allows tourists to explore Japan from top to bottom (Hokkaido pass sold separately).

– Non-Japanese passport if you are a visitor/proof of permanent residence in another country if you are Japanese
– Driver’s license that is valid in Japan (or International Driving Permit)

7-day pass: 20,000 yen
14-day pass: 34,000 yen

For more information on participating rental companies, routes, driving tips, and more please visit the national expressway information site DoRaPuRa (E-NEXCO Drive Plaza) website.

Reservation must be made through participating rental companies listed on the above websites.


Please note that areas within Nagano Prefecture require winter tires or tires with chains. Your car will be inspected before you are allowed to drive on certain roads. Fortunately, rent-a-car locations in the area typically offer their rentals with winter tires or chains at no extra cost.

In addition, certain mountain passes are also closed during winter months as a result of heavy snowfall.

Sightseeing in Matsumoto Now Easier Via the Town Sneaker!


Starting this month, the local bus line, the Town Sneaker, is now nearly 3 times as convenient! The number of buses per day has increased from 35 to 103!

Four Main Routes and Times:

NORTH for Matsumoto Castle, the Former Kaichi School

Weekdays: Departs every 30 minutes! Weekends: Departs every 20 minutes!

First bus: 8:30am Last bus: 5:15pm

SOUTH for Aizawa Hospital, Yumehiroba Shonai

Departs every 30 minutes!

First bus: 7:30am Last bus: 6:35pm

EAST for Nakamachi, Agata-no-mori Park

Departs every 20 minutes!

First bus: 8:40am Last bus: 8:00pm

WEST short course for Marunouchi Hospital & Nagano Pref. Gov. Matsumoto Regional Office, long course for the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum

Departs every 30 minutes!

First bus: 8:10am Last bus: 6:40pm

*Please note that portions of these routes have changed starting August 1*


Japan Ukiyo-e Museum Access

Added to the Western Route is the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum which holds the world’s largest private collection of ukiyo-e, painted screens, and old books. Be sure to take the bus that runs the full “long course”!

Passes and Ticket Books

  • Town Sneaker One-day Bus Ticket
    At ¥500 for an adult ticket, you get unlimited rides on the Town Sneaker. This ticket also gives you discounts at other locations throughout Matsumoto including Matsumoto Castle and museums.
    Available for purchase on board or at the Matsumoto Bus Terminal
    This pass can be used on Matsumoto City’s local bus lines such as the Town Sneaker and also lines running to areas on the outskirts of the city including Matsumoto Airport and both Asama and Utsugushigahara Onsen. This pass also gives you discounts at other locations throughout Matsumoto including Matsumoto Castle and museums.
    Available for purchase at the Matsumoto Bus Terminal
    Adults: ¥800 Children: ¥400
  • “La Coupon”
    13 tickets for the price of 10!
    Available for purchase at the Matsumoto Bus Terminal

★The Matsumoto Bus Terminal is located here. It is open everyday from 6am to 8pm. ★

  • Sightseeing Pass
    A separate Sightseeing Pass that provides access to Matsumoto Castle and the city’s museums is also available for purchase at each of the sites included in the pass. The pass is valid through September 30, 2017, but each site can only be visited once.
    Adults: ¥800 Children: ¥370


You can also search for bus routes and times with the app “Nagano Navi”.

Hakuba – Matsumoto Express Bus and Sumo Road-show Again This Year & Castle Expo in Yokohama to Dec 25

Happy holidays! Snow falls in the north mountain areas in Nagano, so it is white Christmas.

hakubamatsumotowebIn the last year’s winter, I wrote about the launch of Hakuba from/to Matsumoto direct express bus service. Again this year, it operates from Dec 17 till Mar 20!
Check out this new English website.

Free shuttle buses between Matsumoto and Mt. Norikura/Nomugi Pass ski resorts are operating this year, too. You need reservation for them. See the details on Japanese websites (Mt. Norikura / Nomugi Pass).

mainAnother good news, ‘Sumo road-show in Matsumoto’ will be also held next April again. It might be the season of cherry blossoms seen in and around Matsumoto Castle beautifully.

Time: 8 am to 3 pm, Friday 14th, April
Venue: Matsumoto City General Gymnasium (Google map)
Ticket: advance-sale tickets will be sold from Feb 1 (probably walk-up tickets will also be sold)
Refer to the Japanese website and our previous blog article.

Are you interested in Matsumoto Castle and other Japanese castles and cultures at the samurai age? If so, now ‘Castle Expo’ in Yokohama is being held to Dec 25. See this PDF document.

Good news: ATM for foreign C/Cards and Bus to Utsukushigahara

I heard two good news for foreign travelers to Matsumoto.

ATMPhotoOne is a new ATM machine has been installed in the tourist information center at one block south of Matsumoto Castle. You can withdraw Japanese yen by your international cash or credit card as well as ATMs in Seven-Eleven convenience stores and post offices.
See this PDF leaflet for the details.

Another is new bus service to Utsukushigahara Heights. Until last year, a bus to the Utsukushigahara Heights Art Museum operated only early August to mid-August. This year, another direct bus to Utsukushigahara Heights operates weekend of June 18 to Sep 19 and everyday of July 25 to August 31. It departs from the Alps (west) Exit of the station at 8:00 and 13:30 (twice per day).

Hakuba – Matsumoto Express Bus Launch!

20151214snowmagicThis winter, Hakuba from/to Matsumoto direct express bus service has newly operated.

The bus connects Happo/Goryu/Sanosaka ski resorts to Matsumoto by 1,500 or 1,800 yen (depending the day). It departs Matsumoto 7:00 and departs Hakuba 16:00 (two hours ride).

So, after enjoying ski/snowboard in world-renowned ski resort Hakuba, why don’t you ride the bus and eat supper, drink at bar/izakaya, stay in Matsumoto, and see another world-renowned spot, Matsumoto Castle? (Hakuba has a “supper refugees” problem of a shortage of restaurants for skiers.)

Check out this website.

Also, there are winter-limited shuttle buses between Matsumoto and Mt. Norikura/Nomugi Pass ski resorts. You need reservation and the websites (Mt. Norikura / Nomugi Pass) are in Japanese, but they’re FREE! They depart Matsumoto 7:50/8:15 and depart Norikura/Nomugi 15:40/16:00 (only 1:40/1:15 ride).

Let’s stay in Matsumoto and enjoy skiing/snowboading/snowshoeing/sleigh in the Japan Alps!

Matsumoto and Nakasendo Not Affected by Eruption of Mt. Ontake

As you may know in the news, Mt. Ontake, the 3067-meter volcano, erupted on Sep 27, Saturday.

I want to express my deep sorrow that around 30 climbers climbing on the top of the mountain seem to have died.

You cannot enter ONLY the 4km-radius cautionary zone from the summit of Mt. Ontake. Matsumoto is 60km from Mt. Ontake so does not affect the ordinal life and travel.
Tsumago, Magome, and Narai-juku of Nakasendo, which is a very popular walking course among foreigners, can be also travelled safely.

All trains, buses, roads in Nagano Prefecure except inside the cautionary zone are operating as usual.

The Kiso area and Mt. Ontake that has Ski Resort in the mountain foot are very nice places. I hope the eruption would calm down and missing climbers would be found soon.

See also this blog.

Mt. Ontake, the 4km-radius cautionary zone, and major sightseeing spots:

See a large map.

Typhoon Hits Kiso and No Train Service from Nagoya

A big typhoon hits Japan and a landslide happened in Kiso on July 9th.
Now only train services between Nojiri and Sakashita stations including Nagiso, gateway to the popular post town of Tsumago, have been canceled and busses are substituted. Express train “Shinano” services have also been canceled. Instead, you can take highway buses from Nagoya Bus Terminal to Matsumoto, but some of them are fully occupied. Another option is taking a train to Takayama then ride a bus to Matsumoto via Hirayu Onsen, gateway to Kamikochi (a free pass might be convenient). JR says the restoration work will be finished around Aug 9th.
Refer to this article for more details.

Five tips to enjoy Matsumoto Craft Fair

Craft Fair Matsumoto is the biggest and oldest craft fair in Japan, attracting 50,000 ~ 70,000 visitors during the event.
This year, celebrating its 30th anniversary with 280 craftsmen from all over Japan, along with many relative events in downtown Matsumoto city.

May 24th (Saturday) & 25th (Sunday) / Free admission

The “Five Tips” to enjoy Matsumoto craft fair even more are….

1) 歩・・・Take a walk

The craft fair venue is at “Agata-no-mori Park“, just 2 kilo meters away from JR. Matsumoto station. It is a nice walking course with lots of natural spring wells (w/ drinkable water) and unique shops. Arriving Agata-no-mori, exploring the buildings of the “Former Matsumoto High School” . The school buildings full of western influences were constructed in 1920, and designated as a national important cultural properties. In the campus, old trees of zelkova and cherry are forming an atmosphere of small forests.

2) 知・・・Expand the knowledge

280 craftsmen including wood carvings, ceramics, lacquer wares, metal works, weaving, dyeing, glass works, leather and food producers will be all over the park. From traditional to modern techniques you can learn various craft art forms all together.

3) 聴・・・Live concerts
As you may already know, Matsumoto is so-called the town of music. Here at the site, live music concerts will be held on Saturday evening (May 24th). Admission Free, can bring your own food and drink, or temporary mini bar is available at the site. It is so relaxing to listen to nice music on live in homey atmosphere.

4) 食・・・Eat
There are always full of booths selling various foods and drinks. Usually they are situated at the north-east side of the park, and so many to choose from: Japanese, Cambodian, Indian, Italian, German,  Macrobiotic and so on. And there are many nice restaurants on the way from the station, too. It’s worth visiting just for experiencing different taste!

5) 買・・・Shopping

Nothing to explain here, I guess!
Hope you are able to find a special piece and take home with other beautiful & unforgettable memories of Matsumoto City.
*The vendors often don’t accept credit cards at the site. Go to International ATM (the main post office on Honmachi St. is closer from the park) before visiting the event if you wish to purchase there.)

Read also an article of Matsumoto Craft Fair by Winifred Bird on The Japan Times

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