It is also the bus stop which runs hourly from early morning to around 17:30 which will take you to either Ogizawa Stn. up in the mountains for the Alpenroute trek, or to JR Shiano Omachi Stn.
Behind this downtown are many secluded Hot Springs Resort Hotels and Ryokans.
This is a stereotypical country train, where there is only one track, so that coming train and going train must co-ordinate carefully so they don't come face-to-face on the same track due to time misjudgement!!
The scenery from the train is beautiful, the station platforms and buildings are so cute, like a retro time warp to 100 year ago...BUT it still can get crowded during travel season as you can see here. So, sometimes there is no escaping rush hour in Japan, even when you are on holidays and not working...
The train station illustrated in the lowest right corner is JR Shinano-Omachi Station, which is about an hour or so north of JR Matsumoto Stn. on the Ooito Line.
During Japanese Holiday Season, vast majority of people choose to make this the end of the Alpenroute when travelling all by train. I would highly recommend to make this your beginning point of your Alpenroute trek.
From JR Shinano-Omachi Station, you may take a bus which will take you up in the mountains to Ogizawa