Updated for 2021: An Ultimate Guide on How to Travel Between Kamikochi and Matsumoto by Bus

Oct 30, 2020

This is the most detailed guide about how to get to Kamikochi from Matsumoto by bus – from a transfer guide to buying tickets and timetable links.

Summary

  1. 1. Getting to Kamikochi from Matsumoto
  2. 2. How to buy and reserve a ticket
  3. 2.1. Outward trip from Matsumoto to Kamikochi
  4. 2.2. Return trip from Kamikochi to Matsumoto
  5. 2.3. Conclusion
  6. 3. Fare
  7. 3.1. Train and Bus Ticket from Matsumoto and Kamikochi
  8. 3.2. Bus ticket between Shin-Shimashima and Kamikochi
  9. 4. Reservation is required for the return trip from Kamikochi
  10. 4.1. Cancellation of “Seiri-ken” system
  11. 4.2. Reservation changes
  12. 4.3. Reservation period
  13. 5. Bus pass holders
  14. 6. Direct bus from Matsumoto to Kamikochi
  15. 7. Kamikochi bus timetables
  16. 8. Ticket refunds
  17. 9. Frequently asked questions

Getting to Kamikochi from Matsumoto

Due to the easy access and the fame of the Matsumoto castle, getting to Kamikochi from Matsumoto is the most popular route to travel to this picturesque national park.

A route map for getting to Kamikochi from Matsumoto. The two direct buses from Matsumoto to Kamikochi departs at 5:30 and 10:15 AM.

From JR Matsumoto station, take the Kamikochi line train (aka Matsumoto Dentetsu line) from platform no.7. Enjoy Japan’s countryside scenery on the 30 minutes train ride and get off at the final station, Shin-Shimashima. Please note that even though this train departs from JR Matsumoto station, it is operated by ALPICO, not JR. Thus, any JR passes will not cover this train.

From Shin-Shimashima station, take a bus bound for Kamikochi. The ride takes about 1 hour, going through beautiful landscapes before reaching to Kamikochi.

Timetable for Matsumoto - Kamikochi line >

(Updated 2021) Starting from this year, We will add two direct buses from Matsumoto Bus Terminal to Kamikochi. This bus is called the “National Park Liner”. 

Book a direct bus from Matsumoto to Kamikochi >


(Updated 2021/08/16: Due to the damage to Tagawa bridge caused by heavy rainfalls during 8/14-15, the train service between Matsumoto station and Niimura station is suspended until further notice. Until the train resume its normal service, train replacement bus services will operate between Matsumoto station and Niimura station.

For those travelling to Kamikochi from Matsumoto, please board a train replacement shuttle bus from Matsumoto station (Alps exit) and get off at Niimura station, then change to a train bound for Shin-Shimashima station. Conversely, when travelling back from Kamikochi to Matsumoto, please get off the train at Niimura station and change to a bus bound for Matsumoto station. (The bus boarding/alighting point is right next to Niimura station.)

See timetable for shuttle bus >
Check bus boarding points >

How to board a train replacement bus


Kamikochi Line trains usually come with 5 color stripes, sometimes with its mascot “Nagisa Endo” but also at times it comes in bright orange color.

Timetables of the departing buses are displayed on the digital signboard at the train exit. 10 points for your convenience!

Shin-Shimashima Station / Bus Terminal

How to buy and reserve a ticket

Outward trip from Matsumoto to Kamikochi

There are two ways to travel from Matsumoto to Kamikochi, either take a train and transfer to a bus at Shin-Shimashima station or ride a direct bus from Matsumoto Bus Terminal to Kamikochi.

You can buy a ticket from the following ticket offices:

Ticket vending machines are available at each ticket office with 5 languages supported: Japanese, English, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese and Korean. You can use a credit card at Matsumoto Bus Terminal and Shin-Shimashima Station.

Book a direct bus ticket from Matsumoto to Kamikochi >

The ticket vending machine for Kamikochi line train at the JR Matsumoto Station is the blue one on the left.

On the machine, choose “ALPICO Discount Ticket”, then select your destination.

Return trip from Kamikochi to Matsumoto

A seat reservation is required for the return trip from Kamikochi to Matsumoto, Shin-Shimashima, Norikura and Shirahone onsen.

There are two ways to buy a ticket.

(A) Buy a ticket online via Japan Bus Online (Recommended)

You can simultaneously buy a ticket and reserve your seat online via Japan Bus Online. However, this online booking website is only available for the buses departing from Kamikochi. The following credit cards are accepted: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB.

When boarding, it is a requirement to show your printed E-ticket or the E-ticket on your smartphone to the bus driver.

Book a bus ticket from Kamikochi to Matsumoto >

(B) Buy a ticket at Kamikochi Bus Terminal

You can also purchase your ticket at the Kamikochi Bus Terminal.

  • Operating hours: 07:00 – 17:00 (It may vary depending on the season.)
Ticket windows at Kamikcohi Bus Terminal

Note: To reserve a seat means to secure a seat. You cannot choose your preferred seat when booking. The boarding order will be according to the queue order so please come early if you have a specific preferred seat or wish to sit with your friends.

Conclusion

The most fuss-free way to book your ticket for the return trip from Kamikochi is to use the Japan Bus Online booking platform. You can always change your bus time using your mobile, anytime while strolling or relaxing in the park, but no later than 15 minutes before the departure time. If you buy the ticket from the office ticket, you will have to come to the ticket office to make any changes.

As for the ticket from Matsumoto to Kamikochi, buy it at Matsumoto Bus Terminal or JR Matsumoto Station. However, if you transfer from JR trains to Kamikochi line directly, you can buy the ticket at Shin-Shimashima station. And if you wish to board the National Park Liner bus, it is recommended to purchase the ticket online

Fare

Train and Bus Ticket from Matsumoto and Kamikochi

Train and bus set ticket (one-way)
Adult: 2,710 yen
Child: 1,360 yen

Direct bus ticket (one-way)
Adult: 2,570 yen
Child: 1,290 yen
*Note: There are no round-trip tickets available.

Bus ticket between Shin-Shimashima and Kamikochi

Adult: 2,000 yen
Child: 1,000 yen
*There are no round-trip tickets available.

Reservation is required for the return trip from Kamikochi

Cancellation of “Seiri-ken” system

We used to have a “Seiri-ken” system (queuing for tickets) to help lessen the crowds. However, starting from 2020, we have changed this to a reservation system. A seat reservation is required for anyone who wish to board a bus from Kamikochi to Matsumoto, Norikura and Shirahone onsen. This allows you to choose your boarding point from two other alternative stations, Taisho Pond and Imperial (Teikoku) Hotel bus stop, apart from the pre-existent Kamikochi Bus Terminal.

Being able to choose a boarding place allows you to make a more flexible plan in Kamikochi, as it makes it unnecessary for you to return to the bus terminal.

Reservation changes

  • Reservations can be changed until 15 minutes before the bus is scheduled to depart from the Kamikochi Bus Terminal.

  • For reservations made via Japan Bus Online, you can personally make changes to the reservation on the reservation website.
  • For reservations made at the ticket window of the Kamikochi Bus Terminal, please go to the ticket window to make any changes.

Reservation period

  • Reservations can be made from 1 month in advance to 15 minutes before the bus is scheduled to depart from the Kamikochi Bus Terminal, either at the Kamikochi Bus Terminal or online via the reservation website.

  • In case the bus departs in less than 15 minutes, we will let you board the bus if there are seats available.

Bus pass holders

Following is the list of bus passes that cover the train and bus between Matsumoto and Kamikochi.

Those who have any passes listed above don’t need to pay an additional fare but still have to reserve their seats for the return trip. Show your pass and inform the staff of the bus about the time and place you wish to board in order to reserve your seat at Kamikochi Bus Terminal.

Direct bus from Matsumoto to Kamikochi

If you are an early riser, you can opt to ride a direct bus from Matsumoto to Kamikochi, without having to change from train to bus. (Note: There’s only one direct bus daily, departing from Matsumoto Bus Terminal at 5:30 AM.) Please purchase a ticket at the Matsumoto Bus Terminal. The ticket booth is opened between 05:15 – 05:30 for ticket purchase for the first departure.

Kamikochi bus timetables

Ticket refunds

  • Tickets purchased within Japan at ticket offices cannot be refunded, except in the case of bus or train being cancelled due to unprecedent circumstances such as road closure, bad weather, etc. In that case, please contact our staff at Matsumoto Bus Terminal, Shin-Shimashima station or Kamikochi Bus Terminal. We cannot accept ticket refund requests from the homepage’s inquiry form.
  • For tickets purchased via Japan Bus Online website, please contact them directly regarding your refund.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Is it cheaper to buy a ticket online?
A: No, the ticket price is the same for online and walk-in purchases.

Q: I am going to Matsumoto by JR train. Do I need to exit the ticket gate at the JR Matsumoto station to buy a ticket and enter the ticket gate again?
A: No, you can board the Kamikochi line train without exiting the ticket gate. After you have arrived at Shin-Shimashima station, please adjust your fare by paying for the distance between Matsumoto and Shin-Shimashima (710 yen).

Q: I’m worried that I won’t be able to board the bus because it’s full.
A: Our buses and trains for Kamikochi depart at frequent intervals (about every 45 minutes). During holidays and popular hours, we normally increase the number of buses. Even so, we cannot guarantee that you’ll be able to board the bus you wish. Please spare some time to queue to board a bus. As for the return trip from Kamikochi, please make sure to reserve your seat in advanced to the following destinations: Matsumoto, Shin-Shimashima, Norikura and Shirahone onsen.

Q: What if I was late for the bus I booked?
A: Please come to the ticket booth at Kamikochi Bus Terminal on that day to change your ticket for the next available bus. The handling fee is 100 yen per person. We don’t accept requests for changing or refund of the ticket after the departure date.

Q: Can I put my luggage on the bus?
A: Yes, you can put your luggage on the bus trunk. We don’t have specific luggage size restrictions; however, we may not take in your luggage if it is too large that it may cause damages to other passengers’ luggage.


Are you looking for a hotel in Matsumoto? Here are our recommended hotels under ALPICO Group.

Or how about staying overnight in Kamikochi at Lemeiesta Hotel, so that you can leisurely enjoy your time while gazing at the sparkling night sky above Kamikochi!

“Karasawa Cirque”, the Best Autumn Hike in Kamikochi
Press Release | Regarding the National Park Official Partnership agreement

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