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Matsumoto & Japan Alps Snow Wall

01 May 2014 - 30 June 2014

Touch the Magnificent Snow Walls of the Japan Alps

Matsumoto City in Nagano prefecture has developed as a castle town from 400 years ago. Located at the centre of Japan, Matsumoto boasts rich history and beautiful natural environment. Matsumoto Castle, the oldest castle in Japan, is listed as a National Treasure of Japan and still remains mostly the same as it was in the Warring States Period when the castle was erected. The original wooden donjon of the castle which was built around 1593 to 1594,  commands a spectacular view of the Japan Alps with snowy peek. Among the 3,000m high mountains of the Japan Alps, you will find beautiful plateaus such as Norikura Kogen, Utsukushigahara Kogen and Kamikochi, where you can enjoy camping in abundant rare alpine flora in summer, and walking between 12m high snow walls in spring.

Every year, Norikura Echo Line, the highest road in Japan at an elevation of 2,700m opens in early May, welcoming the visitors with 12m high snow walls along the road. Take a short excursion from Matsumoto City and enjoy walking along and touching the massive snow corridor on Mt. Norikura. 


Day 1
Depart JR Shinjukku station for Matsumoto by Azusa or Super Azusa express train or highway bus.
Upon arrival, free time in Matsumoto. You may wish to keep your luggage in a coin-operated locker at Matsumoto station.
Matsumoto Castle, the oldest castle in Japan is a must-see. A visit to Nakamachi and Nawate street lined by well-preserved old buildings is also recommended. Natural spring walking and Soba making experience are available as well.
Transfer by Matsumoto Denki Tetsudo train to Shin Shima-Shima (approx. 30mins).
Take a local bus for Norikurakogen (highlands) and get off at Kanko Centre Mae bus stop (approx. 50mins).
Check in at the hotel.
Accommodation in Norikura
In Day 1 - Out Day 3

Day 2
Free time in Norikura Highlands until Shuttle Bus departure for snow wall walking.
Transfer by Haruyama Shuttle Bus to Kuraigahara Sanso Mae (in May) / Daisekkei Katanokoyaguti (in June) (approx. 40mins).
You will have a chance to get off the bus and touch the snow walls. Enjoy walking along the massive snow corridor.
Return to Kanko Centre Mae at around 12:30.
Free time in Norikura Highlands for the rest of the day. Visit Sanbondaki and Zengorodaki waterfalls, Ushidome pond and Ichinose-enchi. Alpine flowers start blooming in June.

Day 3
Check out of the hotel.
Take a local bus from Kanko Centre Mae to Shin Shima-Shima.
Transfer by Matsumoto Denki Testudo train to Matsumoto.
Free time in Matsumoto until departure.
Depart for Shinjuku by Azusa or Super Azusa express train or highway bus.

This is a sample itinerary for 3-day trip to Matsumoto from Tokyo.
Click here to view Tokyo Day Tours you can join while in Tokyo.
Contact Japan Holidays for further details.

About Matsumoto

Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and is acclaimed for its beautiful views. Hiking and climbing locations in the mountains are readily accessible by local bus transportation. Matsumoto has several historic features, such as Matsumoto Castle, Kaichi School Museum (Kaichi gakko), and Temari (traditional Japanese handball).

Matsumoto is attractive to travellers not only because of the traditional culture but also its calm climate and its products. Matsumoto soba is famous and many are delighted by its delicate taste. Just north of Matsumoto is the world's largest wasabi farm. Wasabi can only be grown in extremely clean water so there is much local pride in this product. In addition, Matsumoto is home to the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto, held every August by conductor Seiji Ozawa and featuring the Saito Kinen Orchestra.It is difficult to get tickets: Many people wait in line two days before tickets go on sale.Like many areas in Japan, Matsumoto is home to abundant onsen (hot springs). It also is host to a number of summer festivals, including the Bon-Bon Festival on the first Saturday of August, which features its signature dance.

Centrally located, Matsumoto is a gateway to Kamikochi, Takayama City, and Utsukushigahara Heights. Matsumoto is easily accessible from Tokyo: 2.5 hours by Azusa or Super Azusa express train or 3 hours by Expressway Bus from Shinjuku station. Alternatively, you may choose to take Nagano Shinkansen from Tokyo station to Nagano station(1.5 hours) and then Shinano express train to Matsumoto (50 minutes).
Enjoy the allure of Matsumoto and experience a place of breathtaking nature, fine music and rich culture - truly a taste of Japan that all travellers will want to discover. No matter what kind of Japan you want to find, make sure you put Matsumoto on your list of 'must visit'!


The Snow Wall Walk from Matusmoto to the peak of Mt Norikura (Japan's 10th highest mountain) opens in May.
In May a shuttle bus runs through a road to an elevation of around 2300m above seas level and in June to around 2500- 2600m above sea level. It takes about 1.5 hours from downtown Matsumoto to Norikura Highlands by local train and bus to Norikura Highlnads.

Norikura Kogen (Plateau, Highland) is a large plateau spreading in the east of Mt. Norikura (3,026 m), which is the 10th highest mountain and one of the younger volcanoes in Japan. You can enjoy the magnificent views from the Japan's highest skyline - 2,700m in Norikura.
Also, there are many viewpoints like water falls, flower gardens, and caldera lakes. Ushidome-ike is a beautiful pond, which gives you one of the best views of the mountains especially on a breathless morning or calm sunset.

Norikura Plateau is a place where you can enjoy many attractions and activities in all seasons for example hiking, biking, jogging, mountain climbing, rock climbing, etc. Famous "Heavenly Marathon" race and "All Japan Norikura Mountain Cycling Race" are held in June and In Winter, Norikura Kogen Ski Resort is a renowned winter destination. The snow remains even in August and some skiers enjoy skiing in May to August.
After walking or skiing, you can soak in Norikura Plateau Onsen (hot springs), which are famous for white colour onsen water. Norikura is also famous for delicious soba noodles.