200 Kms from Otsu
Culture and saké: Takayama (2 days) Kampai! Takayama is home to dozens of saké breweries, and is the place to sink down jugs and jugs of this rice-based beverage. If you don’t like the taste that much, try and start with some warm saké after a day of exploring — nice, right? To fill up the day before boozing hour, visit the morning markets, explore the old town on foot, and snap pics of the traditional wooden houses and old-school shops. Or maybe spend an afternoon hanging out in a cafe, sipping on tea and writing postcards while listening to jazz records. Oh, and make sure you hop on the train back to Tokyo during daylight hours: the ride is stunning.
272 Kms from Otsu
Matsumoto is a lot more touristy when compared to Hakuba as it is the second largest city in the Nagano Prefecture. Home to one of the oldest castles in the country along with some excellent shrines and museums, it morphs into a cherry blossom heaven during the months of March and April. While it is more of a university town, the traditional edibles available in Matsumoto, especially the 'Soba noodles', are loved by locals and travellers in equal measures.