Visit Historic Matsumoto from Hakuba: Winter-Only Express Bus Service

Posted on 2024.01.19 in News

Operating form January 17th to February 14th 2024, a new express bus service connects the popular ski resorts of Hakuba Valley and the historic city of Matsumoto. Departing Hakuba in the early afternoon, you can now enjoy one of Central Japan’s most rewarding destinations with ease and in comfort. For visitors wanting a firsthand experience of Matsumoto’s proud samurai heritage, our new Samurai Swords Fighting, Castle & Illumination Tour is scheduled to work with this bus service allowing you to join from Hakuba!


Hakuba to Matsumoto Alpico Express Bus

Located to the north of Matsumoto City, Hakuba Valley hosted many events during the 1998 Winter Olympic Games and is home to the most popular of Nagano’s many fantastic ski resorts. But even the most avid skiers and snowboarders sometimes need a break, and when that break means visiting one of Central Japan’s most historic castle cities, then that’s a very good thing!

Operated by Alpico, a new winter-only express bus service runs from three points in Hakuba to Matsumoto, allowing you to discover the history and culture, food and drink of this small but most rewarding of cities.


Winter-Only Timetable from Three Points in Hakuba

Daily buses depart Hakuba allowing you to first enjoy a morning of skiing or snowboarding before getting some rest on the bus, and then exploring Matsumoto in the afternoon and evening. Departing from the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal at 13:00, there are additional pickup points at Hakuba Station – 13:05 – and Hakuba Goryu – 13:10 – before the direct journey takes you onto Matsumoto. Arriving at the Matsumoto Bus Terminal at 15:00, the bus service then makes stops at Matsumoto City Museum – 15:05 – and in front of Matsumoto Castle – 15:10 – providing direct access to the city’s most famous attraction!

The return bus departs Matsumoto Bus Terminal – adjacent to Matsumoto Station – at 20:00, returning to directly to Hakuba with drop-offs at Hakuba Goryu – 22:20 – followed by Hakuba Station – 22:25 – and Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal at 22:30.


Pick-up & Drop-off Locations

  • Hakuba
  • Matsumoto


Fare & Reservations

Bookings must be made in advance. To do so, please visit the Alpico booking page to reserve your seat. Tickets can also be purchased at ticket counters at Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal and Matsumoto Bus Terminal on the day. Please note however that should be bus be full, it may not be possible to purchase a ticket. Best to book ahead of time!


The Proud Samurai Heritage of Matsumoto

Famous throughout Japan, Matsumoto is home of one of the country’s last remaining original castles. As a registered National Treasure, Matsumoto Castle is a grand display of the city’s samurai past. It is a culture you can still experience today through activities including Samurai Sword Fighting Workshops – fun for guests of all ages including families with young children.

When visiting in winter, we recommend coming in the late afternoon to enjoy the beauty of the castle at night, displayed in vibrant color during the daily Matsumoto Winter Illumination. Starting from 18:00 each day, the winter illumination uses projection mapping upon the castle – a truly spectacular display that draws visitors from all over Japan. Nearby the castle you can also enjoy a huge range of restaurants serving all manner of cuisine including the region’s renowned “soba” (buckwheat) noodles.


Want to experience the best of Matsumoto?

Staring at 15:30, our new Samurai Swords Fighting, Castle & Illumination Tour is designed to work with the express bus schedule, allowing visitors who arrive in the late afternoon to experience the best of Matsumoto including:

  • Explore inside the historic feudal castle of Matsumoto
  • Hands-on Samurai ‘Katana’ Swords Fighting Experience
  • Wander the castle precinct in the beauty of its winter illumination

This short tour concludes at 18:30, allowing guests to have dinner before boarding the return bus service to Hakuba. Make sure to ask your guide for recommendations of where and what to eat! They’ll be more than happy to help!