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 balance of art, tradition, architecture and excellent photo opportunities.
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 Pokka 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.