Matsumoto is the second-largest city in Nagano Prefecture. Matsumoto is a gateway to the Japan Alps and a destination in its own right. Apart from being home to Japan’s oldest extant castle, it is also the birthplace of avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama. Other destination highlights include Nakamachi—former merchant districts, and Daio Wasabi Farm—wasabi farm outside Matsumoto
Matsumoto Castle is one of five castles designated as ‘National Treasures of Japan’ and among the oldest surviving castles in Japan. On the outside, it looks like a five-storied structure, but it is a six-storied castle if you go inside. This architectural style is only found in two castles in Japan—Matsumoto and Himeji castles. Venturing to the top of the tower is well worth the reward, featuring a superb view of the city, as it stretches out to the Northern Alps. Matsumoto Castle also has beautiful black lacquered walls and it is illuminated year-round at night.
Activities: Photo stop, Castle visit Fee: JPY 700 Time required: 45 minutes
A short walk from the castle, Nakamachi-dori was where the city's merchants used to live during the Edo Period. It was once bustling with businesses selling kimonos, alcohol, and other goods. The streets are lined by nicely preserved, old buildings that house small traditional shops unique to Matsumoto, restaurants and ryokans. Running parallel to Nakamachi across the river lies "Frog Street", a pedestrian-only lane of shops and cafes housed in small, traditional-style buildings.
Activities: Stroll around, Shopping Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour
Japan Ukiyo-e Museum
The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum houses over 100,000 pieces lovingly collected by a local merchant family named Sakai over the centuries. It is the largest private collection of ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), paintings screens and old books in the world. Ukiyo-e is a type of Japanese painting that was developed during the Edo Period (1603 – 1868). It was an art form that depicted the scenery, people, and lifestyle of the pleasure-seeking world during that period. The museum currently conducts art studies and holds exhibitions.
Activities: Museum visit Fee: JPY 1000 Time required: 45 minutes
Matsumoto City Museum of Art
The Matsumoto City Museum of Art, built in 2002, has devoted its entire collection to artists who have come from or whose work has been influenced by the city of Matsumoto. Undoubtedly, the most recognizable artist among them is the world-renowned Matsumoto-born artist Yayoi Kusama. Kusama is internationally known for her hallmark bright and vivid pieces. The works of other artists are showcased in a separate section of the museum with exhibits that rotate throughout the year. The museum also houses a shop selling various souvenirs and goods relating to the art. (Image via Visit Matsumoto)
Activities: Museum visit Fee: JPY 410 Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour
Daio Wasabi Farm
Daio Wasabi Farm is situated in Azumino, a city adjacent to Matsumoto, and is laid out with waterways filled with wasabi (Japanese horseradish) fields. It is Japan's largest wasabi farm. You can learn about the farm's extensive history since its development 100 years ago. The wasabi processing factory tours (available from April to November), observation deck, and shrine—surrounded by neighbouring boats—are also perfect places to take a stroll. You can even enjoy food made with wasabi at the farm, including soft-serve ice cream, croquettes, and curry.
Activities: Stroll around Fee: JPY 410 Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a mountain sightseeing route between Tateyama, Toyama and Ōmachi, Nagano, which is traversed by various means of transportation including cable cars, trolley-buses and a ropeway. Its main highlight is the majestic snow corridor which reaches up to 20 meters high.