Getting from Kansai Airport to Madarao Kogen
Kansai Airport is quite some distance from Madarao Kogen, and if possible guests should use Tokyo or Nagoya as an entry start point. Allow at least 8 hours to get from Kansai Airport to Madarao Kogen, and if arriving after about 2pm, an overnight stop may be required. Following the route below there will be 4 trains, 1 bus, and 4 transfers.
Below we have mapped out the most direct course by public transport. Click on the “+” icon to expand. There are other options including private transfers, buses and rental cars.
Kansai Airport is a modern airport and the flow of passengers is very smooth. If arriving on an international flight you will arrive on the 1st floor which connects directly to Kansai Airport Station. Note that there are 2 rail companies operating out of Kansai Airport. The Nankai line runs a rapid service in to the Namba area of Osaka, but if coming to Madarao Kogen then you will be using JR trains the whole way to Iiyama. The respective companies are color coded, with JR being Blue, and Nankai being Orange.
Buying a Ticket
Kansai Airport to Hakuba Valley is quite a complicated route, and while tickets can be purchased via a vending machine, it may be easier to go to the JR Ticket Counter. A word of warning though, if arriving at peak hours, this counter can get very busy.
At the counter tell the staff member you wish to travel to Iiyama. They will tap away on their computer finding the next available route, and may even consult the 500 page monthly JR timetable. They may ask you if you’d like a reserved seat or a non-reserved seat. Reserved seats assign you a seat number, while Non Reserved seats are on a first come basis. ALWAYS book a reserved seat to guarantee you have somewhere to sit.
Once they have worked it out they will show you the route, and take payment. Credit Card payment is fine, but there have been cases where foreign credit cards get rejected in Japan, so it pays to bring a couple.
You will probably be issued with 5 tickets.
- Your base fare from Kansai Airport to Iiyama
- You Limited Express Seat ticket from Kansai Airport to Shin Osaka
- Your Shinkansen Bullet Train Seat ticket from Shin Osaka to Nagoya
- Your Limited Express Seat ticket from Nagoya to Nagano
- Your Shinkansen Bullet Train Seat ticket from Nagano to Iiyama
Once receive tickets, head to the ticket gates and you must at least put in ticket #1 above to get you onto the platform. Take the escalator down to the platform, locate you car number and board.
JR Limited Express “Haruka”
The first train on your journey is the JR Limited Express Train “Haruka”. The “Haruka” runs from Kansai Airport Via Shin Osaka to Kyoto. Some trains make a stop at Tennoji, before Shin Osaka.
The trip from Kansai Airport to Shin Osaka Station takes 50-60 minutes. The Haruka Train generally has 9 carriages. Car #1 is green class (surcharge is required), while cars 2-4 (sometimes 5) are reserved seating. Heading from Kansai Airport to Shin Osaka, Car #1 is at the front of the train.
The first part of the trip is interesting, as you pass over the 5km long Kansai Airport access bridge, but after that is all big city.
Arrival at Shin Osaka Station
The Haruka generally arrives at platform #1 at Shin Osaka Station. This is on the ground level. Take the escalator up to the main concourse on the 2nd floor.
Shin Osaka Station is the Shinkansen Bullet train hub for Osaka. Here trains head east to Kyoto, Nagoya and Tokyo, and west to Hiroshima and Fukuoka.
The station has 10 platforms for commuter and express trains, and 8 platforms for Shinkansen Bullet trains.
There are three types of trains that operate on the Tokaido Shinkansen line.
- The Nozomi train is the fastest, only stopping at major stations
- The Hikari stops at a few more stations along the route
- The Kodama stops at every station.
Boarding the train
From the main concourse, you head through the Shinkansen ticket gates. You need to insert both the base fare ticket and the Shinkansen seat ticket into the machine (insert together). And remember to collect as you pass through the gate.
Beyond the ticket gates are digital screens listing the next 4-5 departures in each direction. As you are heading to Nagoya, you need to look at trains heading east to Tokyo. Locate your train number and verify the platform number.
Shinano Wide View Express
The train from Nagoya to Nagano (via Matsumoto) is called “Shinano Wide View Limited Express”. Limited Express are the 2nd fastest type of train in Japan after the Shinkansen Bullet train. They only stop at larger stations, and by-pass the commuter ones. The train from Nagoya to Nagano will only stop at about 10 stations along the way and take about 3 hours.
There are 6 carriages on the train. #1 is the front of the train heading towards Matsumoto, while 6 is the rear of the train.
Car 1 is Green Class (first class) and a surcharge is required in addition to the limited express fare.
Cars 2-4 are reserved sets. These are for people with seat assignments on their tickets.
Cars 5-6 are non-reserved, meaning these seats are on a first come basis.
There is no food or beverage service on this train so it pays to buy a few snacks at Nagoya Station before boarding.
Boarding the Train
Most of the Wide View Shinano Trains depart from platform #10, but you need to check the digital signs at the station entrance to confirm this as it can change on occasion.
The ticket sales and ticket gates are on the basement level. There are 3 pathways to the platforms (North, Central, and South). You walk along the tunnel like corridor and there are a number of staircases (and escalators on the North and Central pathways). These have the platform numbers on them. At the platform 10 sign, climb the stairs and you will be on the ground level on the platform.
There are small convenience stores on the platform where you can buy snacks and drinks.
The train will arrive 5-10 minutes before departure.
The trip from Nagoya to Nagano takes about 3 hours. After leaving Nagoya the train travels through the suburbs before following a number of river valleys. Between the many tunnels, there are some great valley views on both sides of the train.
For much of the way the train follows the old Nakasendo route. This is the ancient walkway from Osaka to Tokyo through the mountains. Many of the townships you pass through on the way are the old staging towns where weary travelers would stay over night in small Japanese style lodges.
After Matsumoto the train runs through a number of tunnels and up to the Hijiri plateau. The final part of the trip offers great views of Nagano and Chikuma cities from Obasute.
Arrival at Nagano
There is no dedicated platform for Wide View Shinano arrivals at Nagano Station. But most trains arrive at either platform 2, 3 or 5.
Shinkansen Bullet train to Iiyama
Most of the Hakutaka Shinkansen Bullet trains coming up from Tokyo make a stop in Iiyama. There is only 1 train per hour on this route. It only takes 11 minute to get from Nagano Station to Iiyama Station.
On arrival at Nagano Station, you need to climb from the platform level to the concourse level and follow the Shinkansen Transfer signs. Trains to Iiyama will depart from platform 11 or 12.
Bus to Madarao Kogen
There are several different bus lines operating between Iiyama Station and Madarao.
- Community Bus #1
This bus has 5-6 services per day between Iiyama station. This is the slowest bus as it stops many times. Cost is 500yen per adult
- Express Bus #14
This is the fastest bus that runs to Madarao Kogen Hotel and Tangram also. There are only 2-3 buses a day. Cost is 700yen to Madarao Kogen Hotel, and 1,000yen to Tangram
- Notoma Bus #22
This is the bus from Nozawa Onsen to Madarao Kogen that runs via Iiyama Station. This is mainly a bus for day trippers, so there is one bus in the morning, and one in the late afternoon. Fare is 700yen
- Express Bus #25
This bus runs twice a day from Iiyama Station to Madarao Kogen Hotel. Cost is 700yen per person
There is a vending machine inside Iiyama Station right before you exit the building. Coming down the escalator, head to the furthermost exit door and you’ll see the vending machine in the corner. It only takes cash. If you don’t have cash then head to the Seven-Eleven close to the station (exit the station on the Chikumagawa Exit and turn right. Follow the train line south for 1 block and you see the seven-eleven). The Seven Eleven has an international ATM.
Boarding the Bus
The buses leave from bus stop #1.
Arrival in Madarao Kogen
All the buses stop at Yama-no-ie (Information Center), Plaza Mae, Madarao Kogen Hotel. Ask you accommodation which bus stop is closest. Only bus #14 goes as far as Tangram.
If your host has a pick up service, then call them when you leave Iiyama Station and let them know which bus you are on, and which bus stop you will be disembarking at.