Matsumoto station is the main station of Matsumoto city, Nagano prefecture. It serves for JR Shinonoi line, JR Oito line and private railway Alpico Kotsu Kamikochi line. It is known as the gateway for Kamikochi, one of the best hiking/trekking destinations in Japan.
Matsumoto is the second largest city in Nagano prefecture, next to prefectural capital, Nagano city. Nagano has slightly less than 380 thousand inhabitants and Matsumoto just have 240 thousand. Therefore Matsumoto station is also second busiest station in Nagano prefecture.
Although Shinkansen runs to Nagano station, no Shinkansen calls at Matsumoto station. On the other hand, JR is operating limited express Azusa from Tokyo. Limited express Azusa is notorious known as very crowded limited express in Japan, even operational frequency and its long composition of cars, seats of Azusa can be sold quickly, especially during holidays and hiking/trekking seasons. Also limited express Shinano connecting Nagano and Nagoya stations calls at this station. Therefore if Azusa is sold out, take Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano and change there to limited express Shinano which is less crowded than Azusa. Anyway, immediate reservation is always recommended.
The famous national treasure, Matsumoto castle is nearby and former Kaichi elementary school too. Therefore if you planned to visit Kamikochi, it is very worth to get off at Matsumoto station and have a city sightseeing too.