Many Japan lovers have probably been to Nagano once or more times because it is well known that there are a lot of places you can visit and enjoy. Especially, Matsumoto, one of the big cities in Nagano, is a fun-filled place. If you like nature, history or gourmet, Matsumoto will definitely be your next destination!
#1. Direct Access from Central Tokyo
Surrounded by many tourist sites and famous mountains, Matsumoto is located in the middle western area of Nagano Prefecture. It is a good destination for tourists who want to enjoy both urban and the country areas in Japan but cannot have enough time. The only thing that they need to do is to take a direct train, named Azusa, in Shinjuku Station and it will take you to Matsumoto Station within 2-3 hours.
#2. A Hub of Nature Trip
Matsumoto is in a perfect location for the tourists who prefer outdoor activities. There are some plateaus and mountains which are easily accessible from Matsumoto Station, so you can enjoy hiking, trekking, climbing and also mountain biking. For example, Kamikouchi is an ideal place to go hiking with your family or friends. It takes only about 2 hours by bus from the downtown area of Matsumoto, and you must be surprised with the beautiful clear water of Azusa River and its magnificent view which is sometimes described as Japanese Yosemite Valley.
#3. Historical Structures
You can find a lot of historical places in Matsumoto because it developed as a castle town in the Edo era. Many old buildings still exist as same as they used to be. Among them, Matsumoto Castle, which is a landmark of the city, is the most popular spot with tourists. This castle was built in the Sengoku era, surrounded by the moat, it is not so much big one but has an amazing and beautiful contrast between white and black on the outer walls. Matsumoto Castle is designated as a national treasure in Japan and has been carefully fixed and preserved for a long time. It must be fun and interesting that you can directly see the structure of the old Japanese architecture and stuff such as the guns and helmets which were actually used by the Samurais in the old days.
#4. Tasty Local Soba
Photo Credit: Takekazu Omi@Flickr.com
Your sense of taste will become dissatisfied with ordinary soba noodles after you try local soba in Matsumoto. One of the elements which define the taste of soba is clean water. Matsumoto is rich in clean water and its climate is also good for making soba, so that it can be the one great purpose of the trip to Matsumoto to taste their soba! Kurekino is one of the best soba restaurants in Matsumoto and there are a lot of other great restaurants you should try. If you want to feel the taste of soba itself, it is recommended to eat soba as it is before you dip it in the sauce.
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Address: 1-1-1, Chuo, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano
Access: 1 minute walk from JR Matsumoto Station
Hours: 7:30am ~ 9:00pm
Phone: +81 (0)263-38-0803
Website: Kurekino Ekisha (Japanese)
#5. Coffee Experience
Photo Credit: Marumo Cafe
When you walk around downtown Matsumoto, you can find a lot of cool cafes. Coffee Marumo is one of them. There are several reasons for this cafe’s popularity. One reason is its atmosphere. The building is a renovated old Japanese-style warehouse, and Matsumoto’s folk crafts are used as the interior of the cafe. Another factor is their tasty foods and drinks. Their signature dark roast coffee and homemade sweets attract many tourists and also local people for a long time. They also run a cozy hotel next to the cafe. All rooms are Japanese style, so many international travelers come there and enjoy their stay.
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Address: 3-3-10, Chuo, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano
Access: 13 minutes walk from JR Matsumoto Station
Hours: 8:00am ~ 6:00pm
Phone: +81 (0) 263-35-2251
Website: Coffee Marumo