When you go to southern part of Nagano from Nagano, the Limited Express Azusa is most convenient choice. You can get Matsumoto directly. And one trip of this train takes you to Hakuba and Shinano-Omachi directly.
The Limited Express Kaiji runs on the same route between Kofu and Shinjuku/Tokyo.
And the new train, “FUJI EXCURSION (Fuji-Kaiyu)” has been introduced in March 2019. This train connects Shinjuku and Kawaguchiko (Lake Kawaguchi at Mt. Fuji) directly.
I will explain you the route, schedule and accommodations of these trains.
Route, schedule and travel time
The Limited Express Azusa is operated between Shinjuku and Matsumoto. A few operation of this train depart from Tokyo and Chiba. And one round trip of Azusa is operated between Shinjuku and Minami-Otari. You can get Hakuba and Shinano-Omachi directly from Shinjuku. In daytime, Azusa leaves Shinjuku station hourly, at 00 and 30 minutes past the hour.
The Limited Express Kaiji runs on same route as Azusa but this train is operated between Shinjuku and Kofu mostly. Some trips departs from Tokyo and Ryuo. This train is operated once every hour.
The Limited Express Fuji Kaiyu is operated between Shinjuku and Kawaguchiko. But this train is operated between Shinjuku and Otsuki being connected with the Limited Express Kaiji. Two round trips of this train are operated daily.
The Limited Express Fuji Excursion is operated by JR. But the segment between Otsuki and Kawaguchiko is Fujikyu Railway which is not JR. Some rail passes do not cover this segment and you have to pay the extra fare on top of the pass. I will tell you later in this post.
The fastest Azusa connects Shinjuku and Matsumoto in 2.5 hours. The average trip time is around 3 hours between Shinjuku and Matsumoto.
The Limited Express Kaiji stops many more stations than Azusa. But the travel time between Kofu and Shinjuku is not so different from the Limited Express Azusa. It takes 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours.
The Limited Express Fuji Excursion is coupled with Kaiji between Shinjuku and Otsuki as I mentioned above. The trip time is 1 hour 40 minutes from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko.
Extra fare for taking the Limited Express Fuji Excursion
This train is JR train but it runs on Fujikyu railway line which is not JR. On this segment, this train is operated as one of Fujikyu railway train. That means that this train is not covered by some rail passes.
The only railway pass which covers this train fully is Tokyo Wide Pass.
JR Pass (Japan Rail Pass), JR East Pass Nagano Niigata and any other JR deals other than Tokyo Wide Pass does not cover the Limited Express Fuji Excursion fully. You have to pay the extra fare for the segment between Otsuki and Kawaguchiko.
The extra fare is 1,740 yen. (base fare 1,140 yen + limited express fee 600 yen)
But if you take this train between Kawaguchiko and Mt. Fuji only, limited express fee is not required.
Accommodation and train formations
The Limited Express Azusa, Kaiji and Fuji Excursion are operated by E353 series. E257 series is used for the seasonal operation only.
The seat configurations are 2+2. It is same configuration on both Green seat and ordinary seat. Accommodation is no difference between reserved ordinary and non reserved ordinary. This series equips the all seats with the power outlet.
R=Reserved ordinary seat G=Green seat
Azusa is operated by this 12 cars train set. Kaiji is mostly 9 cars train set (car #4 to #12). And Fuji Excursion is operated by 3 cars train set which is car #1 to #3.
All train do not proved non reserved seat. If you take this train without reservation, you still can take this train but your seat is not secured. You can take one of unoccupied seat. But other passenger will take your seat later. You have to move and find the other seat.
JR Pass, Tokyo Wide Pass and JR East Pass cover the reserved seat fee. Please do not forget book your seat before boarding. You cannot book a seat in the train.
This train set is used for the seasonal operation only.
The seat configurations are 2+2. It is same configuration on both Green seat and ordinary seat. It is no difference between reserved ordinary and non reserved.