By Train -- The JR Chuo Honsen Line runs directly to Matsumoto from Tokyo's Shinjuku Station. Its Limited Express Azusa, departing every hour or so, reaches Matsumoto in about 2 1/2 to 3 hours and costs ¥6,200 one-way for an unreserved seat. There's also a direct JR train from Nagoya, the Limited Express Shinano, which departs about every hour, takes about 2 hours, and costs ¥5,360 for an unreserved seat.
By Bus -- From Tokyo's Shinjuku Station's west exit, Keio Highway buses (tel. 03/5376-2222) depart for Matsumoto Bus Terminal (across from Matsumoto Station) approximately every hour, taking about 3 1/4 hours and costing ¥3,400. From Nagoya, the ride is 2 1/2 hours and ¥3,460; from Osaka, the ride is 5 1/2 hours and ¥5,710; from Takayama, the ride is 2 1/4 hours and ¥3,100.
Before departing Tokyo, pick up a sheet called "Nagano" at the Tourist Information Center, or download it from JNTO's website at www.jnto.go.jp, under "Browse by Destinations." It provides information on buses and trains to Matsumoto, as well as information on sights in and around Matsumoto. It also recommends 2- to 4-hour hiking trips from Kamikochi, the Japan Alps' most popular destination for serious hikers.
In Matsumoto, you'll find Matsumoto Tourist Information (tel. 0263/32-2814; www.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp or http://welcome.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp; daily 9am-5:45pm) just across from the main wicket of Matsumoto Station. It has a good English-language map of the city, and its excellent English-speaking staff will also help with accommodations and can provide information on nearby destinations.
You can walk to Matsumoto Castle, about 1.5km (1 mile) northeast of the station, in about 20 minutes, with signs in English pointing the way. Alternatively, Town Sneaker Bus is a dedicated tourist bus, with three routes departing from Matsumoto Station every 30 minutes and making circular routes to all city sights (most useful for area sights is the Kita, or Northern, Course). It costs ¥190 each time you get off or ¥500 for an all-day pass (half-price for children). To visit the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, however, you'll have to go by local train or taxi. Alternatively, free bicycles are available daily 8:30am to 5pm at various locations throughout town, including the Matsumoto City Museum next to Matsumoto Castle and the Kaichi Gakko Primary School. They're convenient for visiting sights not accessible by Sneaker Bus; ask the Matsumoto Tourist Information staff for details.