Hakuba Autumn Day Trips – Explore the Japanese Alps

Hakuba Autumn Day Trips – Explore the Japanese Alps

Make Hakuba the base for your fall trip and explore the Japan Alps and Nagano from this mountain playground. Centrally located, Hakuba autumn day trips are an ideal way of exploring more of what the Japanese Alps have to offer.

Hakuba Valley is a picturesque mountain town. Famous for its winter sports, autumn in Hakuba reveals a stunning landscape adorned with vivid reds, oranges, and yellows.

This guide will help you explore some of the best spots to visit. Here are some must-visit destinations that are easily reached from Hakuba.

Hakuba Autumn Day Trips

Here are some of our favorite day trips from Hakuba

Matsumoto Castle

Hakuba Autumn Day Trips - Matsumoto Castle
Source: Canva
  • Location: Matsumoto City, 1.5 hrs from Hakuba.

Matsumoto is a historical gem that offers a perfect blend of culture and natural beauty. Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan’s most complete and beautiful original castles at the city’s heart. During autumn, the surrounding trees burst into vibrant colors, creating a picturesque setting for your visit. Visitors can take a train from Nagano Station to Matsumoto for a convenient day trip.

After exploring the castle, stroll through Nakamachi Street, known for its traditional Edo-period buildings. Try local specialties like soba noodles at Nomugi or tempura at Shizuka for dining. These eateries offer a taste of Matsumoto’s rich culinary heritage.

Zenkoji Temple

  • Location: Nagano City, less than 1 hour from Hakuba.

Zenkoji Temple is one of Japan’s most important Buddhist temples. It houses the first Buddha statue brought to Japan over 1,400 years ago. In autumn, beautiful foliage surrounds the Temple, offering a serene atmosphere.

Visitors can take a direct bus from Hakuba Station to Nagano Station and then transfer to another bus or train to reach Zenkoji Temple. For lunch, don’t miss the opportunity to try some delicious soba noodles at nearby Sarashina Horii before heading back to Hakuba.

Daio Wasabi Farm

Hakuba Autumn Day Trips - Wasabi Farm
Source: Canva
  • Location: Azumino City, 1 hr from Hakuba

At the Daio Wasabi Farm, visitors learn about the history of wasabi farming in Japan and witness today’s traditional methods. The farm offers guided tours to see how wasabi is grown, harvested, and processed into products such as grated wasabi paste, pickled stems, and wasabi-flavored snacks.

Visitors can also participate in activities like making their wasabi ice cream or enjoying a traditional meal at the farm’s restaurant. The farm also has a shop where visitors can purchase fresh wasabi products and souvenirs to take home.

Togakushi Shrine

  • Location: Togakushi Village, 1 hr from Hakuba

Visiting Togakushi Shrine in the fall is an enchanting experience. Nestled in the mountains northwest of Nagano City, the shrine complex is divided into three main parts: the lower, middle, and upper shrines, each offering a unique charm. During autumn, the shrine’s ancient cedar trees are framed by a breathtaking palette of red, orange, and yellow leaves, creating a mystical and serene atmosphere.

The journey to Togakushi Shrine is scenic, with winding roads flanked by vibrant forests. Once you arrive, take the time to stroll along the iconic approach lined with towering cedar trees leading to the upper shrine. This path, particularly in fall, feels like a walk through centuries of history shrouded in nature’s autumn beauty. Nearby, you can also find the Togakushi Ninja Museum, which adds an adventurous twist to your visit. For lunch, try the region’s renowned Togakushi soba noodles at Uzura or Yamaguchi-ya, making the day trip both culturally enriching and gastronomically satisfying.

Kurobe Dam

  • Location: 2 hrs from Hakuba, head to Omachi and take public transit

In the fall, Kurobe Dam transforms into a picturesque locale surrounded by vibrant autumn leaves. The autumn leaves of the surrounding forests turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow, creating a breathtaking backdrop for the dam’s already impressive structure. The crisp air and the clear, blue skies enhance the scenic beauty, making it an ideal time for photography and outdoor enjoyment.

To get to Kurobe Dam from Hakuba, travelers should take public transportation from Omachi to Ogizawa. From Ogizawa, visitors can catch the Kanden Tunnel Electric Bus, which transports them directly through a tunnel to Kurobe Dam. The combined bus and tunnel bus journey offers a seamless and scenic route, ensuring a comfortable and memorable visit to the stunning Kurobe Dam in the fall.


Hakuba Autumn Day Trips - Kamikochi
Source: Canva
  • Location: 2.5 hrs from Hakuba to Sawando, then public transport

Kamikochi is a beautiful highland valley in the Northern Japanese Alps. Due to its stunning mountain views and crystal-clear rivers, it is a popular destination for nature lovers, hikers, and photographers. The Japanese government designated the area a National Special Scenic Beauty, making it a must-visit for anyone traveling to the region.

To get to Kamikochi by car, take Route 158 from Matsumoto or Takayama and park at either Sawando or Hirayu Parking Areas. Private cars and motorcycles are not allowed to enter Kamikochi, but plenty of parking options are available near the entrance. The parking fee is ¥600 per day, which is relatively affordable compared to other popular tourist destinations in Japan. Visitors can access Kamikochi in about 20-30 minutes from the parking areas by bus or taxi.

Practical Tips for Day Trips

To ensure a comfortable and safe trip, keep these tips in mind:

  • Packing Essentials: Bring comfortable walking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, a refillable water bottle, and a camera.
  • Safety Tips: Stay on marked trails, respect local customs, and be mindful of wildlife. Always carry a map and a fully charged phone.
  • Travel Light: Pack only what you need for the day to make your trip more enjoyable and hassle-free.
  • Plan Your Time: Leave early enough to take advantage of your trip.

Being well-prepared ensures that you can fully immerse yourself in each destination’s beauty and Japanese culture. Travelers can also consider exploring the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route for stunning autumn scenery.


Day trips from Hakuba during autumn offer a perfect blend of adventure, Japanese culture, and charm. Use Hakuba as the base of your trip, explore the mountain resort town, and take day trips to Nagano’s many other popular destinations.

Plan your autumn day trips from Hakuba today and experience the magic of this beautiful season. Whether you visit Matsumoto, Kamikochi, or elsewhere, each destination promises a unique and unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to pack your camera and fully embrace Japan’s beauty in autumn.


Is Nagano worth visiting in autumn?

Yes, Nagano is worth visiting in autumn. Nagano Prefecture boasts stunning autumn leaves, and popular destinations include Hakuba, Matsumoto, and Kamikochi.

What is the best way to travel around Nagano?

The best way to travel around Nagano during autumn is by using public transportation. Buses and trains are readily available and provide easy access to popular destinations. Renting a car is also an option for travelers who prefer more flexibility in their itinerary.

When is the best time to visit Nagano for autumn leaves?

The peak season for autumn leaves in Nagano typically occurs from late October to early November. However, this may vary depending on the weather conditions each year. Check local forecasts and plan accordingly for the best viewing experience.

What should I pack for an autumn day trip from Hakuba?

Packing warm layers, comfortable walking shoes, and a camera for your day trips from Hakuba during autumn is advisable. Don’t forget to bring some yen currency, as some destinations may not accept credit cards or foreign currencies. Also, carry a rain jacket or umbrella in case of unexpected rainfall.

Are hiking trails open during autumn in Nagano?

Yes, most hiking trails in Nagano are open during autumn. However, checking with local authorities or tourist information centers for updates on trail closures or restrictions due to weather conditions is always recommended. It is also essential to follow hiking safety guidelines and be prepared for changes in the weather while on the trails. In addition, some areas may require permits before entering, so it is best to research beforehand and obtain any necessary documents.

Is Nagano suitable for families with children during autumn?

Nagano can be an excellent destination for families with children during autumn. Children can enjoy many family-friendly activities such as fruit picking, animal parks, and cultural experiences. The beautiful autumn foliage can also be a fun and educational experience for children.

Why is Hakuba so popular?

Hakuba is famous as a world-class ski destination, but it also offers a variety of activities and attractions year-round. In addition to skiing and snowboarding in the winter, visitors can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, hot springs, and more during other seasons. The area’s stunning alpine scenery, traditional villages, and easy access from Tokyo also contribute to its popularity.