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The Popular Tourist Destination, Matsumoto

This video, titled “Matsumoto Area Sightseeing Excursion” (松本地域観光周遊プラン動画), is a promotional video for Matsumoto produced by the “Matsumoto Region Union” of Matsumoto City Office.

The city of Matsumoto, the second largest city in Nagano Prefecture, in Japan's Koushin'etsu Region, is a former castle town surrounded by the Japanese Alps, with Japan's national treasure Matsumoto Castle at its center.

Its population is 240,415 as of June, 2019.
Since the city of Matsumoto was unaffected by the allied bombing in WW2, plenty of valuable landmarks and cultural properties still remain in and around the city today.
Movies and TV shows are often set in the city; visiting Matsumoto is a must when traveling around Nagano Prefecture.

There are quite a few famous tourist spots in Matsumoto that are also featured in the video. As well as the natural landscape, culture, history, cuisine, and so on.
Which one caught your eye?

Sightseeing and Instagrammable Locations Around Matsumoto

Imaga of Matsumoto Castle
Photo:Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle, a national treasure, is undoubtedly the most instagrammable spot around Matsumoto.
Matsumoto Castle's towers against a backdrop of nature are shown at 0:15 in the video.
Of course, there's much more to see than just the castle; there are a myriad of hidden gems throughout the city where you can enjoy the seasonal scenery of Matsumoto as well.

Places rich in nature such as Takabocchi Highlands, Sashikirikyo, and Lake Hijiri are famous for their beautiful scenery.
For example, Kiritoshi, a road cut through the hilly terrain, leading to Zenko Temple. There's also the mountainous villages of Asahi, Yamagata, Omi, and Ikusaka that pass on the traditions of good old Japan.

Kamikochi (0:29) is a popular resort in the Northern Japan Alps with two million visitors each year; it offers one of the most famous mountain views in the country.
You can both go on a hike and try mountain climbing here as well.
Kamikochi, a prominent mountain resort, has attracted many foreign visitors in recent years as hiking and mountain trails at the foot of Mt. Yakedake (burning mountain) have been well developed.

Image of Kappa Bridge
Photo:Kappa Bridge

The hiking trail through a virgin forest, starting from Kappa Bridge to Myojin Bridge around Myojin Pond, is another great way to see the natural scenery, and is very popular.
The shiny emerald color of the rivers and ponds is incredibly beautiful.
Walter Weston, an English missionary, introduced the Japanese Alps to the world for the first time in the early 1900’s.
He is called the father of modern mountain climbing; Weston Monument, a relief to honor his memory, is situated on the gigantic rocks facing Mt. Kasumizawa and Mt. Roppyaku.
The Weston Festival is held annually in June.
In terms of lodging, there's Kamikochi Onsen Hotel, Kamikochi Imperial Hotel, and Kamikochi Taishoike Hotel.

For reservations and pricing, please refer to the official website.

These tourist hotspots are shown throughout the video, so be sure to check out what Matsumoto has to offer.
The local horse race held in Takabocchi Higlands (1:10) is another popular event. Seeing the race horses running before your eyes is an exhilarating experience.
If you go up north a bit, Chikuhoku Village (2:25) will welcome you with Shunara Buddha Stone Statues and Mount Kamurigi, also called Ubasuteyama after an old fable.
There are many other tourist spots, such as Kiritoshi, in the area.
You can also get a taste of art at the Matsumoto Museum of Art in downtown Matsumoto.

The History of Matsumoto

Image of Narai-juku

Matsumoto is now a part of central Nagano Prefecture, and one of the most famous places in the city is Kaichi School, the oldest elementary school in Japan.
It's often featured in the media, and is registered as an important cultural and historical property.

There are many other places to visit in Matsumoto, but if you're looking for a place to walk around, Narai-juku is the best place to visit.
Narai, located in the middle of Nakasendo, flourished as a prominent post town.
It was once referred to as "Narai of a Thousand Houses."
It used be at the highest altitude among all the 11 towns of Kiso; the townscape is registered as an "Important Preservation District of Historic Buildings."

Dining in Matsumoto

Image of a watermill at Azumino Daio Wasabi Farm, Nagano Prefecture
Photo:A Watermill at Azumino Daio Wasabi Farm, Nagano Prefecture

The area around Matsumoto is known for its deep mountainous villages and harsh weather, yet these very conditions make it possible for you to enjoy the rustic food of the mountains.
The countless local products include Shiojiri Grand Wine, Azumino soba noodles, wasabi from Daio Wasabi Farm, Ikusakarat, premium branded grapes of Ikusaka village, and various highland vegetables which are grown utilizing the high altitude.
In addittion, Karasawa Soba Village boasts seven soba restaurants on a single street.
You should try Takana-meshi (rice), a leading local specialty of Nagano.
Takana (mustard leaf) is very popular as a souvenir as well.

Furthermore, the Shinshu Region, where Matsumoto is located, is the second largest apple producer in the country ranked second only after Aomori Prefecture.
The smell of sweet apples fills the orchards of Misato in the fall.
The video shows ripe apples at 1:48.

There are 14 major streets in the downtown area around Matsumoto Station.
Nakamachi and Nawate Street provide you with a plethora of cafes, sweets parlors, and ramen restaurants; you can pick any of them for lunch or enjoy several as you eat your way through the area.

Summary of Matsumoto, Nagano

There are numerous fun-filled sightseeing spots around the city where you can take in the magnificent scenery and sweeping views.
We can’t cover all the attractions here, but the video, “Matsumoto Area Sightseeing Excursion,” shows everything you need to know about the beautiful city.
Once you see the images yourself, you'll be packing your bags in no time!

Come check out Matsumoto- It'll be an experience you won't soon forget!

Written By
Last Updated : Sep. 15, 2020
児玉 勇(Yu Kodama)
A writer who loves Japan and yakitori
Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture Is an Amazing Tourist Destination Overflowing With Nature! Kamikochi and Matsumoto Castle Are Just Two of the Must-See Destinations! A Look at the Culture, History, and Cuisine of Matsumoto City!
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