- Visit one of Japan's best historic castles dating back to the 16th century
- Snowshoe with a local guide through alpine forests in the Norikura Highlands
- Ride a scenic cable car to view Japan's third-highest mountain
- Explore a town known for master woodworkers and sake breweries
|Day 1||Arrive in Matsumoto, Explore||Matsumoto|
|Day 2||Transfer to Nagano, Relax at an Onsen Ryokan||Nagano|
|Day 3||Snowshoe Tour in the Norikura Highlands||Nagano|
|Day 4||Transfer to the Oku-Hida Mountains, Relax at an Onsen Ryokan||Oku-Hida|
|Day 5||Cable Car Ride to Mount Okuhotaka, Transfer to Hida-Furukawa||Hida-Furukawa|
|Day 6||Cooking Class, Transfer to Tokyo or Nagoya, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Matsumoto, Explore
Welcome to Japan! Upon arrival in Tokyo or Nagoya, you'll take a train to the city of Matsumoto and enjoy the scenic views along the way. Nestled between mountains in the heart of Japan, Matsumoto serves as a gateway to the Japanese Alps and is home to one of the country's best-preserved and most evocative castles.
If arriving earlier in the day, take the opportunity to explore the city at your own pace. You can easily spend a few hours touring Matsumoto Castle, as well as the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, which houses the world's largest collection of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Then meander some of the back alleys and outlying areas of the town where much of its heritage from the past can still be seen today. Tonight you'll stay at a traditional onsen ryokan, where you can soak in a private hot spring to help combat your jet lag.
Day 2: Transfer to Nagano, Relax at an Onsen Ryokan
Wake up this morning and savor a leisurely breakfast before starting your journey to the northern Japanese Alps. Traveling by train and bus allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the picturesque winter landscapes along the way.
Tonight you'll stay in a peaceful remote mountain village near the city of Nagano surrounded by snow-covered mountain peaks. This is the perfect setting to enjoy the natural beauty of Japan's alpine region. Your accommodation is another traditional onsen ryokan inn, which offers lovely indoor and outdoor thermal baths for guests. The waters in this part of Japan have long been revered for their therapeutic healing qualities.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 3: Snowshoe Tour in the Norikura Highlands
Fuel up at breakfast this morning before you set off to explore Japan's pristine winter landscape with a full-day guided snowshoe tour. The gentle, scenic walk takes you through snow-covered forests before turning to views of impressive frozen waterfalls and lakes, as well as grand vistas of the surrounding Japanese Alps.
You and your guide will snowshoe for roughly 4 miles (6.5 km) and make an elevation gain of about 321 feet (98 m). No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary, and the tour includes transportation to and from your inn, as well as snowshoes, walking poles, and lunch. After your snowshoeing adventure, return to your accommodation and relax in the hot springs before dinner.
Day 4: Transfer to the Oku-Hida Mountains, Relax at an Onsen Ryokan
It's time to discover another alpine village today. You'll travel by local bus farther into the Oku-Hida mountains with views of the surrounding northern Japanese Alps. The region offers a handful of local onsen towns, which feature several different outdoor thermal bathing opportunities as well as an onsen museum.
From here, continue onwards to yet another quiet, secluded onsen ryokan where you'll stay the night. The traditional atmosphere and therapeutic hot springs make this the perfect place to relax deep in the Oku-Hida region.
Day 5: Cable Car Ride to Mount Okuhotaka, Transfer to Hida-Furukawa
This morning, you'll travel by bus to the Hotaka Mountain Range and ride a cable car over 3,281 feet (1,000 m) to a viewpoint overlooking the surrounding northern Alps. Here you can view Japan's third-highest peak, Mount Okuhotaka. During times of heavy snow, visitors can experience walking along a "snow corridor," which is a narrow pathway between soaring snow walls that creates a winter wonderland setting.
From here, pass through the city of Takayama on your way to the peaceful castle town of Hida-Furukawa, surrounded by dramatic mountains. Explore this picturesque town, known for its master woodworkers and carpenters who still use local goods and traditional techniques without nails. You can also discover one of the local sake breweries or walk alongside the atmospheric Setogawa Canal. After a day of exploring, settle into your onsen ryokan in Hida-Furukawa.
Day 6: Cooking Class, Transfer to Tokyo or Nagoya, Depart
It's time to say goodbye to the Japanese Alps! But first, spend a morning discovering the secrets of Japanese cuisine with a culinary experience at the home of a local resident in Hida-Furukawa. Learn how to prepare unique regional dishes and enjoy tasting them!
Afterward, you can spend a bit more time exploring Hida-Furukawa or take an early train to Takayama, where your tour ends. This is where there are several options for bus or train services back to Tokyo or Nagoya. Safe travels!
More Great Japan Itineraries
A note on diacritical and retroflex markings: In order to support the best technical experience and search functions, diacritical markings have been omitted from this article.