Matsumoto is a small town in the Japan Alps, pleasant and easy to get around. The first stop to visit is Matsumoto Castle. A magnificent and authentic castle built during the samurai era in the 16th century. This castle survived the bombing during World War II and is considered one of the four most preserved castles in Japan and is the main attraction of Matsumoto. The castle is surrounded by a moat and when you walk along it everything is reflected amazingly in the water.
At the castle itself, they ascend barefoot in wooden ladders up three floors and visit various rooms with various exhibits of the samurai who lived in the castle. From the windows of the castle there is a very impressive view of the city and its surroundings and of autumn and cherry blossom.
From here we will continue to visit the Matsumoto city museum of art, one of the most impressive museums in Japan of modern Japanese art, with alternating and permanent displays, including the esteemed Japanese artist Yahoi Kusama who was born in Matsumoto.
If you are not satisfied with the visit to the Musamoto Museum, not far from here, you should also visit the Museum of Folklore in Japan, which includes traditional houses and items, ceramics, stone sculptures, traditional Japanese prints of natural scenes hanging on the walls according to the seasons and more…
After lunch, we will be staying in one of the hotels or Ryokans , the traditional Japanese guest houses, and spend the evening in the area opposite the train station where you will find a wide variety of restaurants, shops and a large shopping mall.
In the next few days, Matsumoto will serve as a convenient base for day trips in the vicinity: Kamikuchi Reserve, the Kiso Valley hiking trail: From the direction of Sumago and Utaka, where the main attraction is the Wasabi farm.
Day trip to Kamikochi Reservation: This day will focus on a visit to the Kamikuchi Nature Reserve, a beautiful nature reserve about an hour and a half ride by bus from Matsumoto on a beautiful and winding mountain road between forests, lakes and rivers to the entrance to the reserve. You can visit the reserve for a few days and allow a few hours of beautiful stroll along the river and inside the forest and stop at beautiful observation points while in the snowy mountains (in the spring season). At the beginning of the route there is a tourist complex that includes shops selling tour equipment and quite a few small restaurants where you can start your visit or finish with a good lunch before returning to Mitzumoto. For those interested in staying there, you can stay in one of the hotels located in the reserve.
Day trip to the Kiso Valley: This day of hiking is an eight-kilometer-long walkway on one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Japan, between two picturesque villages along a section of the historical road hundreds of kilometers long that connected Tokyo to Kyoto.
To reach the walking route that begins in the village of Magome, take an hour by train from Matsumoto to a train station in Nakatsugawa village and from there a few kilometers by bus until the start of the route in Megome. The village of Magoma is a very picturesque village, characterized by traditional houses called Machiya with very well-tended facades rich in ornamental flowers, traditional watering channels leading to the fields and ancient flour mills that are no longer in use today. There are souvenir shops, ice cream parlors and restaurants along the main street that climbs the village. The route that begins in Magoma and ends in Tsumago has been used for hundreds of years from an old post road that passed through this area and started from Edo (Tokyo) to the Japanese Alps and from there to the south 500 km to Kyoto. The road is beautiful and varied and passes through small villages that are steeped in greenery, in a forest and among rice fields.
The walkway is clearly marked by yellow signs along its length so that it can not be lost. Notice that along the route there are signs warning bears and a bell to deter and smuggle them if necessary. In addition, be sure to prepare for the route accordingly with food and water because there are few points along the route where you can find places to buy food and drink.
Walking to the village of Tsumago, including stops at different points along the route, is about three hours. The route ends in the beautiful village of Tsumago which was founded in the early 17th century and its traditional Japanese-style houses from three centuries ago were well preserved. The village streets are made of stone and serve as pedestrian streets only. At the foot of the village there are two large parking lots for those who come with vehicles. Along the main street in the village are quite a few souvenir and art shops and several restaurants where you can finish a good meal before returning. It is highly recommended to check in advance the departure times of the bus leaving Matzogo Magoma, which arrives in the village once an hour - an hour and a half. After a 10-minute drive from Matsumago you will return to Magoma and from there you can return to Matsumoto. If you decide to end your visit to Matsumoto area, it is recommended to store the items at the beginning of the day at the Nakatsugawa train station and after the end of the walkway take the belongings and continue the train to the next destination.
Day trip around the town of Hotaka: on this day of the trip we will visit the Wasabi farm, the glass art museum and the hot baths, around ??the towns of Hetke and Eszumino. We will take the train from Matsumoto to Hakuyacho station in the town of Hotaka, which is surrounded by rice fields, and is located about forty minutes north of Matsumoto. At this station you should buy a bus to take the bus all over the area and board the bus that leads to the Wasabi farm.
The Wasabi farm extends over a large area where the Wasabi root is grown, a central spice in Japanese food, with a sharp taste and green color. At the entrance to the farm you will find a large store selling Wesabi products, along with other Japanese dishes that can be purchased in packages, as well as stalls with food based on wasabi: ice cream, pancakes, drinks and more ... In the water in which the roots of the vasavi grow. Next to the riverbed you will see an ancient flour mill driven by the stream of water. Continue along the path alongside the flooded Vesabi plots and see first hand how to grow the Wasabi. In one of the compounds you can dip your feet in the water of the stream, a pleasant experience on a hot day and to end it is recommended to finish in the local restaurant where you can of course eat Japanese cuisine with Wesabi of course.
We will return to the train station and from there we will take another bus to Art hills Azumino, which is in the hot springs in the nearby town of Izumino. This museum displays exhibitions of glass artists, a view of the artists' workshops and includes a shop and a restaurant. After visiting the museum, you can visit one of the Onsens (Japanese traditional hot bath) in the compound and return to Metzumoto for the evening.
Our recommended place to stay in Matsumoto:
Ryokan Matsukaze (8.3 by Booking.com)- The completely non-smoking Ryokan Matsukaze is just 10-minute walk or a 5-minute drive from JR Matsumoto Train Station. The ryokan offers simply furnished Japanese rooms with futon beds.
More Turipo's travel Itineraries in Japan:
By Maayan Hess Ashkenazi