A Place Where Tradition and Art Come Together
Take a stroll through a nostalgic castle town and get inspired by Japanese traditional and modern art.
The National Treasure Matsumoto Castle, whether it be surrounded by cherry blossoms or by snow, is a must-visit in the area. Take a stroll around what once used to be a lively castle town. The Matsumoto City Museum of Art is also recommended for those who love modern art from renowned artists like Yayoi Kusama.
- Matsumoto Castle
- When in Matsumoto City, the National Treasure Matsumoto Castle is something you definitely cannot miss out on seeing. Maintaining its original composition for more than 400 years, this castle is the oldest 5-layer castle preserved in Japan. The contrast between the black and white walls is one of its most striking features. Visitors are allowed to enter inside and look out from the observation deck to get a magnificent view of the harmony between the faraway Japan Alps and the reflection of the castle tower on the water of the surrounding moat.
- Former Kaichi School
- Opened in 1873, the Kaichi School is one of the oldest elementary schools in Japan. The schoolhouse standing today was built in 1876 and had been used for 86 years. Its Western and Japanese influenced architecture called "Giyofu-style" is so symbolic and precious that it was designated as a National Treasure in 2019. The in-built museum exhibits various educational materials dating back from the Edo period to the present day.
- Nawate Street
- In the Edo Period, Nawate Street was a bank caught between the Metoba River and the overall excavation. The name 'Nawate' comes from the fact that this street is like a long rope that runs along the Metoba River. Long ago, there were many frogs that could only live in the clear water of the Metoba River, and it became the street's symbol. There's even a "Frog Shrine" and many frog goods are being sold at the shops. With around 50 shops filled with antiques, toys and traditional sweets, this street gives you a nostalgic feel for the castle town.
- Nakamachi Street
- Nakamachi Street is a retro shopping street in Matsumoto that has flourished as a castle town since the Edo Period. When you walk through Nakamachi Street, you'll see many remarkable earthen-wall buildings. After most of the houses were hit by a fire in the Meiji Period, "namako wall storehouses" were made with fire-resistant plaster, and many still remain to this day. In the Edo Period, the street was bustling with stores such as sake breweries and kimono shops. Today, it is dotted with hidden cafés, fashionable craft shops and folk-art shops.
- Matsumoto City Museum of Art
- The Matsumoto City Museum of Art exhibits works made by world-renowned Matsumoto-born artist Yayoi Kusama, so if you like modern art, it is certainly worth a visit. Outside of the museum, you will find one of Kusama's works called "Visionary Flowers", which are covered with polka dots, ready to greet the guests. Additionally, works from famous national as well as international artists are gathered and a special exhibition is held about 4 times a year, so even if you are not the biggest fan of Yayoi Kusama, you can still enjoy the world of wonderful art.
- Koboyama Park
- Koboyama Park is a historic burial ground located on the top of the 650m-tall Koboyama in Matsumoto. It has the charm of a small hill overlooking the surrounding cityscape, and because there are about 4,000 cherry blossoms with variants such as the Yoshino cherry and double cherry blossom all over the mountain, it’s a famous spot for cherry blossoms. During the cherry blossom season, you can get a panoramic view from Koboyama Park of Matsumoto City and the Northern Japan Alps, complimented by the pink color of the cherry blossoms around you.
- Utsukushigahara Onsen
- Utsukushigahara Onsen is a hot spring area with a long history dating back over 1,300 years since its opening in the Nara Period, as is apparently also described in the “Nihon Shoki” (Chronicles of Japan). The spring has a quality that makes it almost colorless and transparent, and the low-alkaline water is gentle on the skin. You can enjoy the scenery and the hot springs simultaneously in a wonderful location from where you have a view of the Northern Japan Alps in front of you and the Utsukushigahara Highlands with an altitude of 2,000m behind you.
- Japan Ukiyo-e Museum
- Also called the city of art and music, Matsumoto not only has a great collection of modern art, but also of Japan's traditional fine art "ukiyo-e" (woodblock prints). The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum is one of the leading ukiyo-e museums in Japan, which stores and partly displays about 100,000 prints. Inside the postmodern building, you can admire world-famous ukiyo-e prints from great masters such as Hokusai and Hiroshige up close. There are also many rare works stored here of which there is only one copy in the world.
Timetables and Reservations
HOTEL BUENA VISTA
HOTEL BUENA VISTA
ALPICO PLAZA HOTEL
ALPICO PLAZA HOTEL
ACE INN MATSUMOTO
ACE INN MATSUMOTO
Alps Crossing Ticket
The Alps Crossing Ticket is a ticket that allows you to stop at Kamikochi, Norikura or Shinhotaka Ropeway while traveling from the castle town of Matsumoto to the charming old town of Takayama.
Three-Star Route Ticket
The Three-Star Route Ticket is a special ticket that allows you to travel to National Treasures and World Heritage Sites in Kanazawa, Shirakawa-go and Matsumoto, which have all been awarded three stars by the Michelin Green Guide to Japan.
4-Day Alps WIDE Free Passport
4 days of unlimited bus and train transport within the designated area, including Matsumoto, Kamikochi, Norikura, Takayama, Shirakawa-go, Shinhotaka Ropeway and many more!