10 Incredible Things to Do in Matsumoto, Japan

sunset over Matsumoto castle in Matsumoto Japan

Picture this, you’ve just touched down in the heart of the Japanese Alps: a city where ancient castles merge with modern art, where shopping streets buzz with energy, and the mountains whisper their timeless stories.

Welcome to Matsumoto, a city teeming with a blend of traditional and modern Japanese culture. This list is your passport to the best things to do in Matsumoto, so let’s dive right in.

1. Visit Matsumoto Castle

matsumoto castle with a red bridge

There’s something about Matsumoto Castle that tugs at the heart of every visitor. Steeped in history, this majestic castle stands as a testament to Japan’s past. Known as the “Crow Castle” because of its distinctive black exterior, its architecture is something to marvel at. But remember, the best time to visit is during cherry blossom season, where the castle grounds transform into a pink wonderland.

2. Explore Nawate Street

Nawate Street shopping
Source: z tanuki

Next, stop on our journey is Nawate Street, a vibrant shopping area that thrums with energy. Stroll around, peep into unique shops, and be sure to check out the local crafts. But here’s the catch, it’s also known as ‘Frog Street.’ Why, you ask? Well, according to local folklore, frogs are considered as protectors of the city. Now, isn’t that ribbit-ing!

3. Take a Stroll around Matsumoto City Museum of Art

Matsumoto City Museum of Art by Garrett Ziegler
Source: Garrett Ziegler

The Matsumoto City Museum of Art is more than just a building; it’s a space where creativity dances freely. Home to works by famous artists like Yayoi Kusama, this museum boasts an impressive collection. And if you’re lucky, you might just catch a temporary exhibition that ignites your curiosity.

4. Visit the Old Kaichi School

Old Kaichi School in Matsumoto Japan by t-mizo
Source: t-mizo

With its Western-style architecture and rich history, the Old Kaichi School stands as a fascinating symbol of Japan’s early modern educational system. Here, you can step into a classroom from the Meiji era and feel the history coursing through its halls. It’s a history lesson like no other.

5. Enjoy the Scenic Beauty of Alps Park

cherry blossoms in the japanese alps

Alps Park, a panoramic feast for the eyes. This sprawling park offers breathtaking views of the Japanese Alps. Whether you’re here for a leisurely stroll, a heart-pumping bike ride, or simply to marvel at the scenery, the Alps Park will leave you in awe.

6. Visit the Ukiyo-e Museum

Ukiyo-e Museum paintings

Step into a world of floating worlds at the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum. This museum houses a vast collection of Ukiyo-e art, a genre that beautifully captures scenes from the floating world. Each piece, a slice of life from ancient Japan, will leave art lovers spellbound.

7. Relax in Asama Onsen

onsen hot spring

Take a break from the hustle and bustle and soak in the tranquil Asama Onsen. Bathing in these hot springs, ensconced in nature, is a tradition that dates back centuries. First-timers, remember, it’s all about relaxing, respecting the space, and rejuvenating your senses.

8. Experience Local Cuisine at Nakamachi Street

Nakamachi Street

Hungry for more? Nakamachi Street beckons. From traditional soba noodles to moreish yakitori, Matsumoto’s culinary delights are a feast for the senses. And trust me, nothing compares to enjoying these delicacies in the city where they were born.

9. Hike in the Kamikochi Valley

Kamikochi Valley in Japan

Lace up your hiking boots; it’s time to venture into Kamikochi Valley. Be it the serene river, the towering mountains, or the colorful wildlife, the Kamikochi Valley is a spectacle to behold. But remember, always respect the environment and stay on the designated paths. This way, we can ensure the valley stays beautiful for generations to come.

10. Attend the Matsumoto Bon Bon Festival

japanese couple at a festival

Let’s end our journey with a bang at the Matsumoto Bon Bon Festival. This annual event in August is more than just a festival; it’s a riot of joy, dance, and camaraderie. With locals and tourists alike dancing through the streets, this festival truly encapsulates the spirit of Matsumoto.

Wrapping Up the Matsumoto Adventure

There you have it, ten incredible things to do in Matsumoto. From historic castles to vibrant streets, tranquil onsens to lively festivals, Matsumoto is a city that captivates at every turn. So why not book that ticket, lace up your walking shoes, and start exploring?

And don’t forget, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, your experiences and recommendations are what make these guides even better. So feel free to drop in your own tales from Matsumoto. After all, the best stories are those that are shared.

So go ahead, and dive into the incredible experience that is Matsumoto! Who knows, maybe I’ll bump into you on Nawate Street, or we’ll cross paths at the Matsumoto Bon Bon Festival. Until then, safe travels!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best time to visit Matsumoto?

The ideal time to visit Matsumoto is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons. These periods offer pleasant weather, and the stunning cherry blossoms in spring or vibrant fall colors make the city particularly beautiful.

2. How do I get to Matsumoto Castle?

Matsumoto Castle is conveniently located in the city center. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the JR Matsumoto Station, or you can take a ‘Town Sneaker’ bus from the station, which stops near the castle.

3. Are there English-guided tours at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art?

Yes, the Matsumoto City Museum of Art offers English-guided tours. However, it’s advisable to contact the museum beforehand to check the schedule and availability.

4. Can I try onsen even if I have tattoos?

In most cases, you can. However, some onsens may have restrictions regarding tattoos due to cultural beliefs. Asama Onsen, mentioned in this blog, is generally accepting of guests with tattoos.

5. Is it possible to attend the Matsumoto Bon Bon Festival as a non-local?

Absolutely! The Matsumoto Bon Bon Festival is a fun-filled event open to everyone, locals and tourists alike. Just join in, follow the dance moves, and enjoy the energetic atmosphere!

If you’re planning to broaden your journey beyond Matsumoto, there are countless other amazing things to see in Japan:

About Ronaldo Stewart

Wantigo was born out of a deep passion for exploring new places and experiencing different cultures. With a keen sense of adventure and an insatiable thirst for knowledge, I’ve traveled far and wide, immersing myself in the beauty and wonder of the world.

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