Known as the gate to Okuhida Onsengo and the Northern Alps' climbing routs, Matsumoto city prospered as a castle town at the foot of Matsumoto Castle.
Matsumoto Castle 松本城
Matsumoto city, situated almost right in the center of Nagano Prefecture and known as the gate to Okuhida Onsengo and the Northern Alps' climbing routes, prospered as a castle town at the foot of Matsumoto Castle. The castle's tower, a 5-story, 6-layer tower built in the Bunroku Period (1593-1594) is Japan’s oldest existing castle tower and is designated as National Treasure. With its moody, dark facade, the Castle is also known as the ‘Crow Castle.’ With an entrance fee of 610 yen, you can enter the castle’s inner grounds. Ascending the steep stairs inclined at 60-65 degrees and seeing the castle’s original wooden interior must be a valuable experience. Fortunately, there is nobody who has slipped on the stairs yet.
Nakamachi-dori street 中町通り Along the Nakamachi-dori to the south of the castle there are many old merchant houses built in the ‘kura-zukuri’ style and warehouses built with ‘Namako’ walls covered with square tiles jointed with raised plaster. The name comes from the fact that the cross section of the raised plaster is similar to the semicircular sea cucumber shape.
Nawate-dori street 縄手通り Located across the river from Nakamachi, Nawate-dori is a car-free zone lined with small shops with a subtle but recurring frog theme. The bank of the river once echoed with the voices of frogs. ‘Kaeru,’ the Japanese word for frog can also mean ‘to return home.’ Thus, as a symbol of the frog history and to invoke a safe return home, a statue of a frog marks the entrance to the street.
The AEON Mall Matsumoto Located about a 20-minute walk from the station, there is a huge shopping and entertainment complex, the AEON Mall Matsumoto, which opened in 2017. The site area is about 62,500 sqm. The mall is sprawled across three separate buildings: the “Sky Garden” (空庭) which consists of a movie theater and shops selling local goods, the “Wind Garden” (風庭) which is apparently one of Nagano’s largest food courts, and the “Sun Garden” (晴庭) which is the main section that includes all the typical kinds of stores you would expect to find in a mall like apparel, accessories, toy stores, and even a huge grocery store.
Art Museums 美術館 Wandering through Matsumoto's many museums is a fantastic way to spend the day. If you enjoy classic Japanese prints, the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum houses over 100,000 pieces lovingly collected by local merchant family over the centuries, which includes work by such masters as Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige. The Matsumoto City Museum of Art has a more contemporary focus; it features Masumoto native Yayoi Kusama's internationally–acclaimed dotted creations, as well as the work of several other Nagano artists.
Soba noodles 蕎麦 Soba, or buckwheat noodles, are generally called Shinshu soba 信州そば in Nagano – Shinshu being the ancient name of this part of the country. Nagano is famous for soba because its clean water and volcanic ash soil are particularly suited to growing buckwheat – some even claim the concept of making noodles from soba originated here. Being the second largest producer in the country, next to Hokkaido, there’s no shortage of these delicious noodles anywhere in the prefecture, and Matsumoto is no different. Buckwheat noodles contain potent plant compounds that have health benefits. Eating Soba has been shown to benefit blood sugar, heart health, inflammation and cancer prevention. This may be partly due to the seed’s plant compounds, including rutin and other antioxidants, as well as fiber. But, not always good for everyone. Soba can cause allergic reactions in people who have never tried buckwheat before.
Only 3.5 hrs. from Shinjuku to Matsumoto
by Express Bus (and v.v.) 06:05⇒09:23, 07:05⇒10:23, 07:55 ⇒11:13, 08:55⇒12:13, 09:55⇒13:13, 10:55⇒14:13, 11:55⇒15:13, 12:55⇒16:13, … For details, https://www.alpico.co.jp/…/…/matsumoto/r-shinjuku-matsumoto/
Suggested Accommodations in Matsumoto City
Matsumoto Marunouchi Hotel 松本丸の内ホテル Located just a 2-minute walk from the historic Matsumoto Castle, Matsumoto Marunouchi Hotel offers modern and comfortable rooms with free Wi-Fi access. From JR Matsumoto Station (Higashi-guchi exit), a 12-minute walk or 5 min. by taxi. Breakfast is served at the restaurant ‘Harmonie Bien’, which is ‘former Dai-ichi Kogyo, built in 1937. Guests can rent a bicycle to explore the city. Check-in 15:00, Check-out 11:00 (90 rooms in total)
Hotel Buena Vista Matsumoto ホテルブエナビスタ松本 Located just a 3-minute walk from the bus terminal where buses depart for Tokyo, Okuhida Onsengo Takayama and Nagano. Featuring 5 dining options, Hotel Buena Vista Matsumoto offers bright and comfortable rooms with free Wi-Fi access. Guests can rent a bicycle to explore the city. The historic Matsumoto Castle is a 15-minute walk away. Check-in 14:00, Check-out 11:00 (190 rooms in total)