Matsumoto & the Northern Japan Alps

Boasting some of Japan's most magnificent peaks and dramatic scenery, the northern Japan Alps (北アルプス) are truly spectacular, with stunning 3000m peaks accessible even to amateur hikers. Also known as the Hida Range (飛騨山脈), the mountains are protected within Chūbu-Sangaku National Park (中部山岳国立公園). Put very simply, the northern Alps are in the shape of a big 'Y'. The northwestern arm is based around the Tateyama peaks and accessed from Murodō on the Tateyama–Kurobe Alpine Route. The lovely resort village of Kamikōchi, at the base of the 'Y', is the access point for hiking in the south, while the northeastern arm of the 'Y' is accessed from Hakuba, home to various events at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

For those coming from Tokyo, lovely Matsumoto, in the centre of north–south sprawling Nagano Prefecture, is the gateway city for the northern Alps and a fascinating destination in its own right.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Matsumoto & the Northern Japan Alps.