The Limited Express Azusa, Super Azusa, Kaiji, and Fuji Excursion (Fuji-Kaiyu) for Matsumoto, Kofu, Kawaguchiko, Shinano-Omachi and Hakuba from Shinjuku

Kofu, Otsuki, Kawaguchiko, Gotemba, Shizuoka
New fleet E353 series has been introduced in December, 2017. (C) DAJF / Wikimedia Commons

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

Operation route map (Click to view large)
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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.

Trip time

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

You may find the interior of this train in the movie below:

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.

E353 series

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.

Green class interior (C) Toshinori baba (own work) / Wikimedia Commons
Ordinary class interior (C) Toshinori baba (own work) / Wikimedia Commons
Power outlet under the seats (C) Toshinori baba (own work) / Wikimedia Commons

Train formation


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.

E257 series

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.

Green class seat (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Green class seat (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Ordinary seat (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Ordinary seat (C) Sonic Rail Garden


  1. Pauli says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I’m planning to take the train from Otsuki to Matsumoto and Hyperdia advises that I need to make a transfer at Kofu. I will be using JR Pass, so I believe the whole journey is covered.

    But since I still can not confirm the timing, I’m unable to make the seat reservation in advance.
    Is it possible to do it on the same day at the JR Ticket Office in Otsuki station?
    I will be traveling on weekday noontime so I think it won’t be too crowded.



  2. herb says:

    I dont think its mentioned here, but on the Super Azusa at least its no problem to put a medium sized trolley/bag on the overhead space. Big plus!
    Put up a ~ 67x43x27cm. Fit easily.

    Some limited express trains, like the Shinano for example, dont have deep enough overhead storage (only like 25cm maybe).

  3. Wei Min Ng says:

    Hi Takeshi, I’m intending to stay overnight at Lake Suwa and would like to know how much it costs to get from Shinjuku to Kamisuwa station.

  4. Clay says:

    Hello Takeshi,

    I am traveling with my family (4 adults, a 4 year old, 1 baby) on Saturday 27th Jan on the Azuza train, 7.30am from Shinjuku to Hakuba.

    In your experience how busy is this train on a Saturday morning during ski-season? Would you recommend reserving seats?

    We fly into Tokyo the day before at 5pm on the 25th. Will it be fine just to reserve seats at the JR office in Narita once we land?

    Thank you so much for your help and this amazing website.

  5. Miles says:

    Hi Takeshi- san,

    Hyperdia shows timetables but how to book in advance and on line without a Japan rail pass? – specifically the Limited Express to Hakuba?
    Thank you.

  6. michi says:

    Hi, Takeshi, is that any transportation from Kofu station to Matsumoto or Nagano station? I cant find any transportation from Kofu to Matsumoto or Nagano station .

    Many thanks

  7. Jay says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Firstly want to thank you for your awesome website, it is very informative and helpful for a foreigner like myself.

    I am a little worried because on the 1st of January, most public transport options are not operating in my country, will this be the same in Japan? I will be going to Hakuba on the 1st of January 2018 and it seems the information routes on google are a little confusing.

    I have figured that the most convenient way to get to Hakuba from Shinjuku station is to catch the Azusa Limited Express, however it seems that there are no direct trains straight to Hakuba and I most likely have to transfer from Matsumoto?

    Is that correct? Would you be able to point me in the right direction or even better, offer better suggestions on how to get to Hakuba.

  8. Lee says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    I’m looking to reserve a seat on the Chuo Limited Express (Shinjuku-Matsumoto) from for my trip next month, May 6 2017. I’m travelling alone and I’ve not yet bought a pass,

    Just for trial purposes, I’m attempting to reserve a 09:00 departure from Shinjuku (both as a “pass holder” and as a “traveller without a pass”), but there’s only always ever one option available for reservation – which is the Azusa 25 departing at 16:45. Of course, the timing is not what I’m looking at.

    Do you know if there is a reason for this? Have all other timings been snapped up because of the Golden Week holidays?

    Also, because I’m travelling alone, would you say it’s crucial that I reserve a seat on the Chuo Limited Express?

    Thanks, looking forward to your reply!

    • Hi Lee san,

      I could find many trains. Just try to find earlier trains. I put 6:00 am for departure time and I could find 7:00, 7:30, 8:00, 8:30 and 9:00. There are still lots of seat left.


      Takeshi /

  9. Stephen says:

    Excellent site. Thank you for posting and helping us gaijin. Do you know what time the first train leaves from Shinjuku for Matsumoto? And when is the last train back.

  10. Bua says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I’ve just realised that seat reservation can be made online. However, the trips I’ll make are likely to depend on the weather.

    So, do I need to have a non reserved seat ticket if I’ll be travelling with Tokyo Wide Pass? Or I can just enter any JR East stations by showing the Pass.

    Kindly advise.

    Thank you.

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