Nagano station guide. How to catch the bus to the tourist spots. How to change between Hokuriku Shinkansen and other local trains.

Exterior of Nagano station from Zenkoji-guchi side
Exterior of Nagano station from Zenkoji-guchi side

Nagano is known as Winter Olympic Game host city. That means this place has very good snow. Nagano has many ski slopes, such as Shiga-Kogen, Hakuba, Nozawa-Onsen. Nagano station is the gateway to Shiga-Kogen. In these days, the express bus runs between Nagano and Ogizawa where is the base of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. And please do not forget that Nagano is the gateway to world famous “Snow Monkey” place, “Jigokudani”, a.k.a. “Snow Monkey Park”.

In this post, I would like to explain about Nagano station’s structures with many photos of this station. And I also show you the bus stops around Nagano station and Nagano Dentetsu Nagano station.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Nagano station overview

Limited Express Wide View Shinano arrive and depart between Nagano and Nagoya.
Limited Express Wide View Shinano arrive and depart between Nagano and Nagoya.

Nagano is very accessible from Tokyo, Nagoya, Kanazawa and Toyama. Hokuriku Shinkansen connects Nagano, Tokyo, Kanazawa and Toyama. Limited Express Shinano connects Nagano and Nagoya directly. You can get Nagano from Osaka and Kyoto via either Nagoya or Kanazawa. Trains depart and arrive at Matsumoto from the following destinations:

  • Hokuriku Shinkansen to/from Tokyo, Kanazawa, Toyama
  • Shinonoi line to/from Matsumoto, Nagoya
  • Shinano Railway (a.k.a. Shinano Tetsudo line) to/from Myoko-Kogen, Ueda, Komoro
  • Iiyama line to/from Togarinozawa-Onsen, Tokamachi

And Nagano Railway (a.k.a. Nagano Dentetsu line) has the station underground. This local railway connects Nagano and Yudanaka where is the gateway to Shiga-Kogen. And also the express bus depart and arrive at Nagano station to/from Shiga-Kogen, Snow Monkey Park and Ogizawa (the base of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route).

You may find some more information about the location and route in this region in the links below:

Guide for train access to Nagano, Matsumoto and other places in Shinshu and surrounding area

Nagano station structure, tracks and platforms

There are many signage for overseas travelers. It is very tourist friendly station.
There are many signage for overseas travelers. It is very tourist friendly station.

Before I start to explain, please see the link below. JR East provides the station map in English in the following link:

JR East official site, Nagano station map

Nagano station is two levels structure. On the ground level, there are conventional lines platforms. Shinkansen platforms are a bit higher level than conventional lines, like mezzanine level.

Walkway outside ticket gate is open for public.
Walkway outside ticket gate is open for public.

Nagano station building is on the bridge. This bridge has the walkways both inside and outside the ticket gate. The walkway outside gate connects both side of the station, east side and west side. This walkway is public. Anyone can use this walkway without a ticket to access to other side of the station.

Walkway inside ticket gate
Walkway inside ticket gate

The walkway inside the ticket gate connects all platforms. You can go down to the platforms by stairs, escalators and elevators from the walkway. This walkway is divided by Shinkansen transfer gate. You have to go through Shinkansen transfer gate whenever you change the trains between Shinkansen and conventional line trains.

Shinkansen platfrom
Shinkansen platfrom

Platforms

Track# Lines/Trains Destination
2 Local and Rapid on Shinonoi line Matsumoto
Local and Rapid on Shinano Tetsudo line Ueda, Komoro, Karuizawa
Local and Rapid on Shinano Tetsudo Kita-Shinano line Toyono, Myoko-Kogen
3 Local and Rapid on Shinonoi line Matsumoto
Local and Rapid on Shinano Tetsudo line Ueda, Komoro, Karuizawa
4 Local and Rapid on Iiyama line
Seasonal Rapid, Oykot
Togarinozawa-Onsen Tokamachi
5 Local and Rapid on Shinonoi line Matsumoto
Local and Rapid on Shinano Tetsudo line Ueda, Komoro, Karuizawa
Local and Rapid on Shinano Tetsudo Kita-Shinano line Toyono, Myoko-Kogen
Seasonal Rapid Resort View Furusato via Shinonoi line and Oito line Matsumoto, Hakuba, Minami-Otari
Local and Rapid on Chuo line (east) via Shinonoi line Matsumoto, Kamisuwa, Kobuchizawa
Local and Rapid on Iida line via Shinonoi line Matsumoto, Tatsuno, Iida
6 Limited Express Wide View Shinano Matsumoto, Kiso-Fukushima, Nakatsugawa, Nagoya
Local and Rapid on Shinonoi line Matsumoto
Local and Rapid on Shinano Tetsudo line Ueda, Komoro, Karuizawa
Local and Rapid on Chuo line (east) via Shinonoi line Matsumoto, Kamisuwa, Kobuchizawa
7 Local and Rapid on Chuo line (east) via Shinonoi line Matsumoto, Kamisuwa, Kobuchizawa
Local and Rapid on Shinano Tetsudo line Ueda, Komoro, Karuizawa
Local and Rapid on Shinano Tetsudo Kita-Shinano line Toyono, Myoko-Kogen
11,12 Hokuriku Shinkansen Toyama, Kanazawa
13,14 Hokuriku Shinkansen Takasaki, Omiya, Tokyo

Nagano station does not have many tracks. It is not hard to find the platforms and tracks. Most of you take Hokuriku Shinkansen and Limited Express Shinano.

Limited Express Wide View Shinano depart from track #6. All conventional lines tracks, from #2 to #7 are used for all conventional trains of both JR and Shinano Tetsudo line (Shinano Railway). If you intend to take local or rapid train, please check the departure information board to find the track.

Shinano Tetsudo line is not JR. You have to add single fare if you use JR pass. JR Pass does not cover this railway line.

As you see, there are four tracks, #11 to #14, and two platforms for Hokuriku Shinkansen. It has only two directions, bound for Tokyo or bound for Kanazawa. Please make sure which direction you will go before proceeding the platform.

Ticket gate/Exit

Conventional line and Shinano Railway ticket gate
Conventional line and Shinano Railway ticket gate

There are three ticket gates and one Shinkansen transfer gate in Nagano station.

All ticket gates are located on the second level. There are one gate each for Shinkansen and Conventional line to connect to main walkway outside gates. If you stay in Nagano or transfer to other transportation, you will use these gates to exit Nagano station.

Shinkansen ticket gate
Shinkansen ticket gate

There is Shinkansen transfer gate inside ticket gate. This gate divide into walkway inside ticket gates, conventional lines part and Shinkansen part. You will go through this gate when you change Shinkansen and conventional trains.

Shinkansen transfer gate
Shinkansen transfer gate

And there is one more gate in conventional lines part. This gate is called “Midori ticket gate”. It is connected with shopping mall, “Midori”. You can exit the station at this gate too.

The signage of Zenkoji-guchi exit
The signage of Zenkoji-guchi exit

Nagano station has two exit at both east and west sides. West exit is called “Zenkoji-guchi” and this is the primary exit of Nagano station. Zenkoji is very famous temple in Nagano. This is the “Icon” of downtown Nagano. You may visit this temple if you can spend a couple of hours. So most of travelers to visit Nagano use this side.

East side exit
East side exit

Other exit at east side does not have any specific name. It is called just “East exit”. This side is much quieter than Zenkoji-guchi side. But many of express bus depart from this side. If you go to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Shiga-kogen or Snow Monkey Park, you can catch the bus at the bus stop in East exit side. I will explain about bus stops later.

Nagano Dentetsu (a.k.a. Nagano railway or “Nagaden”), Nagano station

The entrance to Nagaden Nagano station is located just beside Zenkoji-guchi exit.
The entrance to Nagaden Nagano station is located just beside Zenkoji-guchi exit.

There is one more station underground Nagano station Zenkoji-guchi side. This is Nagano Dentetsu’s station. Nagano Dentetsu is officially called Nagano Electric Railway. But local residents call this train company, Nagano Dentetsu or “Nagaden” (NAGAno + DENtetsu).

This train company is a local private railway lines. Any of JR deals, such as JR Pass, JR East Pass do not cover this train.

This train connects Nagano and Yudanaka. Yudanaka is one of hot springs towns in mountain side of Nagano. Yudanaka is located on the way to Shiga-Kogen and Snow Monkey Park. You may get these places by this train and local bus from Yudanaka.

I used this train on the way back to Nagano from Snow Monkey Park in February, 2016. Please see the link below to find more information. I shared my experience and how to buy Snow Monkey Pass at Nagano station.

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 9, Visit Snow Monkey Park in Nagano

Nagaden ticket window. You can purchase Snow Monkey pass there.
Nagaden ticket window. You can purchase Snow Monkey pass there.

Station structure, ticket gate and platform

Nagaden station ticket gate
Nagaden station ticket gate

This station is small and very simple. There is only one ticket gate. You need to go down one more floor to get the platforms. There are escalators between ground level and ticket gate, and also another elevator connect ticket gate level and platform.

Nagaden station platfom
Nagaden station platfom

There are three tracks and two platforms. You can find the destination at the departure information board.

You may find the detailed information of Nagaden Nagano station at the link below.

Nagaden Group official site, Station information, Nagano Station

Nagano station bus stops

Bus stops at Zenkoji-guchi side
Bus stops at Zenkoji-guchi side

There are many bus stops at both Zenkoji-guchi (west) and East side. At Zenkoji-guchi side, many of city bus arrive and depart. If you intend to visit Zenkoji temple, bus depart from bus stop #1. There are many express bus depart from this side. But express bus to Shiga-Koge, Snow Monkey Park and Ogizawa depart from other side.

At East exit, all bus stops are used for mostly express bus. Very few city bus depart from this side but I do not think you will take a local bus from East exit.

Express bus to Snow Monkey Park and Shiga-Kogen

Nagaden Express Bus to Snow Monkey Park
Nagaden Express Bus to Snow Monkey Park

If you visit Shiga-Kogen or Snow Monkey Park, the bus depart from bus stop #23 and sometimes #24. If you go to Snow Monkey Park, Snow Monkey Pass is highly recommended. It includes return fare between Nagano station and Snow Monkey Park, and admission for Snow Monkey Park. You may choose either express bus or Nagano Dentetsu train + local bus to get Snow Monkey Park. It is much cheaper than purchasing a ticket separately. I put this link above. But I just want to let you know about this link one more time. You will find how to use and purchase Snow Monkey Pass in this link.

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 9, Visit Snow Monkey Park in Nagano

Express bus to Ogizawa (Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route)

If you intend to take a bus bound for Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, express bus depart from bus stop #25. You may find the timetable at the link below:

Alpico Express Bus bound for Omachi-Onsenkyo, Ogizawa

If you use baggage delivery service of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, you can drop off or pick up at Yamato Transport, Midori Nagano Station Building Depot Center. Please check JR Nagano station map again.

You can find “Midori” at Zenkoji-guchi side in lower part of the map. This place is located in “Midori” at lower right part on second floor. The following link is in Japanese. But you can find the photo of this place. It may help you to find this place easier.

Midori official site

I hope this post will assist you to make a plan to visit Nagano.

9 thoughts on “Nagano station guide. How to catch the bus to the tourist spots. How to change between Hokuriku Shinkansen and other local trains.”

  1. I want to thank you for your help and have to say this blog is absolutely incredible. It is extremely informative . I would recommend and will share it from my blog.

  2. Is there a JR pass that covers Narita airport to Tokyo train station and the shinkansen from Tokyo station to Nagano? I can see there is 2 passes the NEX and the JR EAST but I don’t have a need for the JR EAST pass except to travel from Tokyo to Nagano.

      1. Thank you for your reply. However since I sent my question, I have discovered that the JR East Rail pass includes the Narita Express and it can be purchased online for overseas people for Yen17,000. Is it correct that the JR East pass includes travel to and from Narita?

          1. I am going to purchase the JR East Rail pass and I want to reserve my seat for the Narita Express to Tokyo for the night of arrival by plane. Can I make this reservation when I go to exchange my eticket for the pass at Narita, as I am not sure how long it will take me to get off the plane, clear customs and collect my luggage and then find my way to the service desk. I am concerned there will be no seats available if I leave it till I am about to get on the train.
            At the same time can I reserve seats with my pass at the same service desk for the shinkasen the next morning to Nagano? or should I do this prior to leaving Australia?

          2. Hi Sandra,

            You can book both Narita Express and Nagano Shinkasnen when you exchange the pass. It is very rare that all seats on Narita Express are booked out. There is online booking site. But you have to pick up a ticket one day before. So you can book for Shinkansen but you have to book for Narita Express after arrival.
            https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx?_ga=1.211831764.1325107855.1421419524

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you for your helpful posts!
    I have a few questions:

    If I have the JR-East (Nagano, Niigata) pass, will I be able to travel from Nagano to Matsumoto and Shiojiri on the Limited Express Wide View Shinano? I am assuming that since the pass covers local JR lines to Matsumoto and Shiojiri, it doesn’t matter which train I take to get there after I show the gate attendant my pass?

    Also, would you know what time does the ticket office that sells the Snow Monkey 1 day pass opens?

    Thank you so much!

    Cheers,
    Tricia

    1. Hi Tricia,

      You can take any trains to get Matsumoto and Shiojiri. Of course you can take Wide View Shinano.

      Nagano railway office opens around 6:00 because the first train departs at 6:21.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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