I’m sure many of you have never heard about Matsumoto City in Japan. It is a small city located in one of the valleys of Nagano Prefecture which is surrounded by the Japanese Alps. Nagano is located west of Tokyo and it hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics.
The first time I went to Matsumoto was in 2005 when I visited my Mom who lives in Shiojiri, a small town that is few train stops away from Matsumoto. I also visited during Spring of 2015, and the most recent one was last January.
Matsumoto maybe a small city but it is rich in culture and historical structures. You will also find here one of Japan’s National Treasure.
Matsumoto is home to one of the famous historic castles in Japan, the Matsumoto Castle. It also called the “Crow Castle” because of its black exterior. Matsumoto Castle was built from 1592 to 1614 in a plain unlike other castles which were built on top of hills or mountain. The castle is also unique for having both a secondary donjon and a turret adjoined to its main keep.
Matsumoto Castle is famous during spring for it’s cherry blossom trees. It also also one of the Four National Treasure Castles of Japan.
On the way to Matsumoto Castle you will find Yohashira Shrine, a small religious shrine where wedding ceremonies usually takes place.
Just right outside Yohashira Shrine is Nawate Dori (street). This shopping street features Edo Era themed shops making you feel like you were transported to the olden times. Various shops sells antique products, traditional Japanese candies, breads, and souvenirs.
Every June, the city celebrates Frog Festival in Nawate Dori. This decade old festival attracts frog fans from all over Japan. I’ll definitely check this out if I happen to visit in summer.
I happened to past by this structure en route to Matsumoto Castle because this traditional Japanese structure was still standing in between modern buildings. Upon closer inspection, I found out that it was actually a bookstore selling second-hand books. According to my research, Seikando Bookstore owner built the structure to resemble like a mini Matsumoto Castle. Interestingly, Seikando actually means second-hand.
These are just some of the sights I was able to visit in Matsumoto City. The city also serves a gateway to neighboring attractions in the region such as Hakuba, Suwa, and Hida Takayama.
By Train – take the Shinkansen Hakutaka to Nagano then transfer to Limited Express Shinano to Matsumoto. Travel time is almost 3 hours.
By Bus – take a bus from Shinjuku Bus Station to Matsumoto Bus Station. Travel time is 3 hours.
By Train – Limited Express Shinano to Matsumoto. Travel time is 2 hours
By Bus – take a bus from Meitetsu Bus Center in Nagoya Station to Matsumoto Bus Station. Travel time is 3.5 hours.
By Train – take the Shinkansen Nozomi to Nagoya then transfer to Limited Express Shinano to Matsumoto. Travel time is 3 hours.
By Bus – take a bus from Hankyu Sanban Gai in Osaka Station to Matsumoto. Travel time is alsmost 6 hours.