If you are heading north west from Tokyo towards the delights of Shinshu: Matsumoto Castle, Yokota Onsen, Hakuba and Kamikochi the most comfortable and affordable route is on the Azusa or Super Azusa trains from Shinjuku Station to Matsumoto.
These frequent JR trains (about once an hour from Shinjuku Station) take around 2 hours, 30 minutes to reach Matsumoto via Kofu. The service, named after the Azusa River in Matsumoto, started in 1966 with the tilting, 130kph "Super Azusa" commencing service in 1994. Both trains have been completely no-smoking since 2007, something of a rarity in Japan.
There is some wonderful countryside to enjoy on your journey from Tokyo to Matsumoto. Fares are around 6500 yen and a JR Rail Pass is valid on this route.
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