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Japan Hour

Bus vs Local Trains In Nagano And Niigata Prefectures - Part 3

Highlights this week include an exciting final challenge involving a selfie and zip lining as the bus and train teams enter the last stretch of their race from Matsumoto Castle to Takada Castle.

The “bus team versus train team” race in the Shinetsu region continues. The teams started from Matsumoto Castle in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture and their goal is Takada Castle in Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture. They have cleared the third checkpoint and must now head to the fourth and final checkpoint, Madarao Kogen Hotel.

The bus team leaves Yomase Station first at 10.15am and makes their way to Shinshu-Nakano Station. They reach at 10.35am and have to wait for 45 minutes for the next bus to Iiyama Station, which is near the fourth checkpoint. 

The train team, meanwhile, has missed their train and need to wait for an hour. They plan to travel by taxi from Shinshu-Nakano Station to Kami-Imai Station later so they book one in advance. They arrive at Shinshu-Nakano Station at 10.40am and then take the taxi so that they can catch the 10.55am train from Kami-Imai Station. The fare comes up to about 3,200 yen so they have about 6,800 yen left to spend on taxis. Unfortunately, they do not manage to make it in time for the 10.55am train to Iiyama, so they must wait for an hour again for the next train.

The bus team takes the bus from Shinshu-Nakano Station at 11.20am and arrives Iiyama Station at 12.05pm. The direct bus going to Madarao Kogen Hotel will leave at 12.35pm. They visit the information centre at Iiyama Station to ask about heading towards Myoko later. They are advised to go to a bus stop called Okawa Hikage Chushajo and then take the 3.15pm bus to the last stop in Tomikura Toge. However, as they have used up all their taxi money, they will have to walk 6.5km to Okawa Hikage Chushajo from Madarao Kogen Hotel after completing their mission. 

The train team arrives at Iiyama Station after the bus team and also visits the information centre. They aim to go to Myoko-Kogen Station after their mission is done at Madarao Kogen Hotel. They are told that the train leaves from Myoko-Kogen Station at 3.10pm and the next train is only at 5pm. They first head to Madarao Kogen Hotel, 11km away. As they need to save some taxi money for later, they walk 1km on the flat road and then travel by taxi from Madarao Kogen Iriguchi on the mountain road for the rest of the way to the checkpoint.

The bus team arrives at Madarao Kogen Hotel before the train team. It is now 1.05pm and they plan to complete their mission by 1.40pm in order to catch the bus from Okawa Hikage Chushajo, more than 6km away. The mission here is for two members of the team to go zip lining, while the third one takes a selfie, making sure that the two members zip lining are captured in the photograph too. Madarao Kogen Hotel is a pioneer in zip lining adventures. The zip lining course spans 150m and is 20m high. The bus team completes the mission at 2pm after three tries and starts walking 6km to Okawa Hikage Chushajo.

The train team spends less than 4,000 yen on the taxi fare and alights near Madarao Kogen Hotel. They still have more than 2,700 yen left out of the taxi money. The train team completes the zip lining mission in one try at 2.25pm. They spend their remaining taxi money to go as far as they can and then walk 5km to Myoko-Kogen Station to catch the 4pm train. 

The bus team reaches Okawa Hikage Chushajo at the prefectural border between Nagano and Niigata after walking for an hour from Madarao Kogen Hotel. They then make their way to the Kuramoto bus stop in Tomikura Toge at 3.15pm. They reach Kuramoto at 3.25pm, cross the prefectural border to Niigata and head to a bus stop called Nagasawa to take the 4.55pm bus to Arai Station. However, they are unable to find that particular bus on the timetable. They make enquiries at the post office and are told the Nagasawa bus stop is under a different transport company and they can take a community bus at 4.55pm instead.

As for the train team, they manage to catch the 4pm train from Myoko-Kogen Station to Takada Station. They then must walk 2km to reach Takada Castle, the goal. The bus team later arrives at a bus stop 250m away from the castle. 

The train team arrives at Takada Castle, finds the winners’ flag inside the treasure box and are thrilled that they have won the race. The bus team reaches more than an hour later. 


1)    Zip lining enthusiasts should visit Madarao Kogen Hotel in Nagano Prefecture
2)    Some bus stops operate under different transport companies so make sure to check the right timetable

Source: CNA


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