In the 1960s, in the middle of Japan’s high-growth period (1955–1973), the road improvement of Kamikōchi was completed. Following its completion, a huge number of people began to access Kamikōchi with their own cars or in tourist buses.
Not surprisingly, those numerous vehicles traveling towards Kamikōchi polluted the surrounding environment.
As a result, traffic regulation was introduced in 1975 to preserve the beautiful mountain resort for future generations. Private vehicles were banished and now only shuttle buses and taxis are allowed to enter Kamikōchi.
Matsumoto or Takayama
In order to go to Kamikōchi, you will need to go via either Matsumoto or Takayama. You are advised to go to Kamikōchi via Matsumoto if you are planning to depart from Tokyo (Haneda/Narita Airport) or Nagoya (Chubu Airport/Centrair). Takayama is best for people who are coming from Toyama or prefectures along the Japan Sea coast (Kanazawa etc). For those of you coming from Osaka (Kansai Airport), you have the option to come via either Matsumoto or Takayama.
Furthermore, there is a useful web page called “Route Search” made by the JORUDAN Corporation. It searches train routes and fares by simply entering a date and time with a departure point and destination. You can use this program effectively to plan your trip. The “Route Search” is free to use at JORUDAN’s official website. General information about access also can be found at this website.
Step by Step
Getting around in Japan is not that difficult, but even experienced travelers should take care about a few things when visiting Kamikōchi, like the mandatory numbered boarding ticket for the return trip. To avoid any inconvenience and to help you concentrate on the sights and not worry about the details, we created an exhaustive, illustrated list for you on how to get to Kamikōchi from Matsumoto and back. If you like planning trips in detail, you’ll love this list. If not… well, you can still enjoy the pictures… 😉
Round-ticket on Kamikōchi line
You are advised to complete the purchase of your full round-ticket at Matsumoto station, as it will be much more expensive and complicated for you to buy a ticket at each stage along the way. The round-ticket can be used only once but is valid for 6 days.
Numbered Boarding Ticket (seiriken 整理券)
First things first. You are advised to ask for a numbered boarding ticket (seiriken) as soon as you arrive at the Kamikōchi bus terminal. The ticket window can be found at the “Kamikōchi Sight Seeing Center” building. Convey your desired date and time of return bus trip to window staff who will then provide you with a numbered boarding ticket.
Most likely, the last returning bus from Kamikōchi bus terminal to Shin-shimashima bus terminal will be full, and only people with the numbered boarding tickets will be able to board it. If you miss the final returning bus, you may have to pay for accommodation to stay overnight at Kamikōchi. So make sure you get the ticket as soon as possible.
The Free Passports shown below offers an incredibly economical way to travel to Kamikōchi. It also offers various sightseeing spots for you to travel:
- 4 Days Alps Wide Free Passport Shinshu/Hida:
The Wide Free Passport allows you to travel freely on the Matsumoto Dentetsu (Kamikōchi line trains and Kamikōchi line buses etc) and Nohi Bus. Please be aware, however, that some restrictions apply. Please check the English version of pamphlet from ALPICO group’s website for further information. You can purchase this free passport from the Matsumoto (ALPICO) bus terminal, Shin-shimashima station, Takayama (Nohi) bus Terminal or the Gero bus center.
- 2 Days Free Passport Kamikōchi/Norikura:
The 2 Days Free Passport allows you to travel freely on the Matsumoto Dentetsu (Kamikōchi line trains and Kamikōchi line buses etc). You can also check the pamphlet from ALPICO group’s website, but unfortunately, the pamphlet is only available in Japanese. You can purchase this free passport from the Matsumoto Bus Terminal or Shin-shimashima station.
Further information about access to Kamikōchi from Matsumoto can be found from these websites:
- Information for trains and buses
- Fare information for trains and buses
- Timetables for trains and buses