About three hours from Tokyo is Matsumoto which may seem like a quaint city in comparison to Tokyo but there’s still plenty to see and explore. The main attraction within Matsumoto is the Matsumoto Castle and for a good reason.
Despite the castle’s old age of 400, the castle and garden are both kept in pristine condition. You can’t help but feel a sense of awe as you walk over the large moat full of koi fish and see the expansive mountain landscape laid out as a backdrop behind the castle. You experience a second rush of awe as you walk through the massive brick gate into the gorgeous castle garden.
Matsumoto Castle is oftentimes crowded but they do a thorough job of allowing only so many people into the castle at a time. Much of the informational signs are in Japanese but there are free English tour guides available near the ticketing booth. There are many steep, narrow stairs inside the castle so if you have any problems with walking up stairs, going inside may not be for you. Still, just seeing the castle’s exterior and walking through the beautiful garden can be enough in itself. Besides, there’s plenty of other places worth visiting in Matsumoto City.
Just a few minutes walk from the Matsumoto Castle is an area known as Nawate Dori which is a line of small shops that follow along a picturesque river. Many of the shops sell cute trinkets and there are tons of trendy restaurants within Nawate Dori as well.
While in Matsumoto, the Ukiyo-e Museum is also worth a visit. This small museum features a room filled with woodblock artwork otherwise known as ukiyo-e. There is also a small theater area where guests can watch a video on the impressive and lengthy ukiyo-e process. On your way out, be sure to visit the small gift shop where you can buy anything and everything related to ukiyo-e artwork.
Adjacent to the Ukiyo-e Museum is the Japanese Court and Open Air Architectural Museum. This museum is ironically beautiful and peaceful with a stream running next to the gated court building. Behind the large building lies a quaint open courtyard surrounded by other smaller buildings-one of them being the jail. Although just about all of the informational signs are solely in Japanese most of the rooms and artifacts are self-explanatory.
ITT offers multiple trips to Matsumoto. Cost includes transportation and museum and castle fees. Stop by ITT or call 227-7083 for information on their next tour.