KomaganeKomagane (駒ヶ根市; Komagane-shi) is a quiet city of 30,000 inhabitants in Nagano (prefecture).
Komagane draws people mostly because of its superb location close to the Chuo Alps. Also the mountain resort of Komagane Kogen just few kilometers west from the central is an attraction.
The tourist information is across the JR station, a bit right from the supermarket. In Komagane Kogen, there's tourist information in the Komagane Farm's building.
Komagane station is a stop on the JR Iida line. If coming from Tokyo, you need to change the train at least once and the last leg with the local train is slow. Fastest connection to Shinjuku takes 4 hr 15 min and costs ¥6410. Using only local trains will cut your costs to around ¥3000, but the travel time increases to more than 6 hours.
Highway bus is another option. There are highway buses from the surrounding major cities: Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagano, and Matsumoto. Note that there are two different stops in Komagane, one is the Komagane bus terminal near the station (5 min walk), the other is the Komagane IC stop on the Chuo expressway. The trip from Shinjuku takes 3 and half hours as scheduled and the bus connections are frequent, about once per hour to and from each of the two stops. In Shinjuku, The buses depart from Keio Highway Bus terminal, just opposite the main building of Yodobashi Camera. One-way ticket costs ¥3700. However, recently, the Chuo expressway suffers from frequent congestion near Tokyo and the last segment of the trip into Tokyo may take up to 2 hours on its own, making it no better than travelling exclusively by local trains. One trick would be to get off at Chuo-do Hino (中央道日野) and transfer at the Koshu-kaido (甲州街道) Tama Monorail station (7 min walk). This is especially useful if your accommodation is in western Tokyo, near Tachikawa.
The most interesting bus line for the traveller is the bus leaving from Komagane JR station, going through Komagane Kogen and terminating at Shirabidaira ropeway station. The bus will depart every half hour between 7am and 5pm, depending on the season, and is labeled clearly with a "Komagatake Ropeway Station" sign. Trip from the station to Shirabidaira will cost ¥1030 and to Komagane Kogen ¥370. During peak seasons, particularly in Fall, the buses and the ropeway can get very crowded. Extra buses will be dispatched if scheduled buses are unable to pick up all waiting passengers. These extra buses usually arrive within 5 minutes from when the scheduled bus leaves but they are also dispatched from the ropeway station as soon as the amount of waiting passengers reach a certain threshold. Extra buses from the ropeway station only run until the Suganodai bus terminal (菅の台バスターミナル).
phone: +81 265-83-2736address: Komagane KogenThe old Buddhist temple is hidden in lush, green forest. The atmosphere is very calm and relaxing.
phone: +81 265-83-5100In the same area as the Kozenji Temple (literally right next door), Komagane Kogen Art Museum features a unique collection of Japanese artists. Different areas (about seven, if this contributor remembers correctly) of the museum hold seven differently themed collections, the contents of which are subject to change. Photography and modern art displays are particularly popular. Along with the Temple, it's a great way to spend an afternoon.
Komagane is a good starting place for hikes in the Chuo Alps mountain range. The ropeway can shorten your climb notably.
phone: +81 460-83-6473address: Shirabi dairaThe ropeway whisks you up in 7 minutes from an elevation of 1662 meters to 2612 meters. The views towards the Minami Alps are great, and if you're lucky, you can see the figure of Mount Fuji on the horizon. You have the best chance of seeing it in the morning or in the winter. During the fall peak season, be prepared for long lines. It is recommended to descend before noon, as wait times can reach up to 2 hours.
Bell ShineA large department store
Marutoshi Foods.comphone: +81 265-81-0104An aptly-named supermarket.
phone: +81 265-83-8080Sauce Katsudon is a local speciality, and there is something of a competition among the local restaurants as to who makes the best. This restaurant consistently ranks at the top. The specials are sauce katsudon and green tea soba.
phone: +81 265-81-7722address: Komagane KogenA beer garden type of restaurant, where you can sample products from the local brewery.
There a couple of simple business hotels near the station, where you can get a bed for around ¥6000. In Komagane Kogen, there are plenty of choices, prices are typically around ¥8,000-10,000 per person.
phone: +81 265-83-3856address: Komagane-shi 25-1A clean youth hostel run by a very friendly couple. Good base for hikes.