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Collect your favourite destinations, experiences and travel styles in your bucket list

Collect your favourite destinations, experiences and travel styles in your bucket list

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Matsumoto

Surrounded by the Northern Alps of Japan, Matsumoto city offers one of the most popular Castles in Japan. It also is the hometown of Yayoi Kusama, the famous contemporary art designer. A great abalnce of art, traditional and excellent photo opportunites.

Matsumoto can be reached from Tokyo by traveling to Nagano Station by Bullet train, and then take a local rapid train for approx. 1 hour to Matsumoto. Coming from the western parts of Japan, such as Kyoto or Osaka, you can access Matsumoto via the Nagoya station, and then take the Wideview Train to Matsumoto. The Matsumoto Castle is one of the main reasons why the Japanese and Overseas Visitors a like visit Matsumoto. And why wouldn't it be? The Castle fortress on the top floor, is a Japanese National Treasure, and the Castle itself holds a very important part in Japan's history.  The color of the castle is very unique in itself and is called the "crow castle".   Located only 7 minutes walk from the station, it is easy to access and really no need to use the public transport unless you are short on time. The Matsumoto Castle grounds are a pleasant walk and if you walk over the northern parts of the grounds you will be able to firstly see, the Matsumoto Shrine, and then with another 5 minutes walk, you can reach the Former Kaichi Primary School, which offers a great example of European Architecture, but also has the Japanese influence clearly seen.    

There are several other very important shrines in Matsumoto, such as the Yohashira (Four Pillars) Shrine, and you can walk through the grounds to take you to the traditional area of Matsumoto city, the Nakamachi Dori (Street) area. Here you can see the traditional style house and storage houses which are predominantly in a beautiful white color. Some of the stores here are as old as the buildings themselves, we as some are very modern cafes, interior design, antique, gifts stores and even the Matsumoto Craft Beer have a store in one of these well preserved houses.

If you are even only a little interested in art, contemporary art, you can take the loop bus of Matsumoto which is the red dotted bus to the Matsumoto City Museum of Art, which has a great Japanese Woodblock Print exhibition, although the main draw card is the permanent Exhibition of Ms Yayoi Kusama. Yayoi Kusama is famous for her contemporary art which is now seen all over the world, and in locations such as the Naoshima contemporary Art Island.  Maybe her most famous works are the Pokker dotted pumpkin objects. 

Matsumoto has Hotel accommodation available, but if you have more than one night, maybe taking the local bus approx. 20 minutes, you would like to stay in some very unique Ryokan (Traditional Japanese Inn) accommodation, all included with natural Hot Springs.  

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Our personal point man for Experience Japan Travel was Scott Kent, the right person for establishing good rapport from initial planning to travels' end. It wascompletely evident that he cares deeply about his clients, a terrific reflection not only on himself, but also on his company. Detailed planning and many 'extras' came from the heart, including spending trip time with him and his young daughter. We came together as strangers coming to a strange land and parted friends with much in common. Such is the essence of great travels! Especially because we were traveling with our 12-year-old granddaughter who has been immersed in Japanese as a second language since kindergarten, this was an extra special trip for us. She put her language skill to work and proved most helpful! She is an engaged young lady, so visiting sights that entailed new experiences and learning more about the culture was notably meaningful. The hands-on washi paper-making experience was surely one of the highlights as well as seeing the mountain area itself that included the thatched-roof community of Shirakawago and Gokayama where the paper is made. One of our granddaughter's goals was to ride a bullet train and that we did. Seeing the masses navigate the gigantic train stations was an experience in itself! Of course, we knew going in that the Japanese diet is very foreign to our own. We were the best sports we could be, with our granddaughter leading the way as already somewhat adjusted to the menu choices. We loved seeing and (usually) tasting the strange sea life that regularly finds it way into Japanese homes and restaurants. To sum it up... Japan: If it's in the sea, it's on the table! Memorable for sure.... READ MORE

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