Things to do in Matsumoto 松本

  • Sumo

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Matsumoto 松本 is one of the cities in Nagano Prefecture, located about 2 hours away from Nagoya on JR limited express and it is famous for its original castle – Matsumotojo. Besides that, it is also the gateway to many Japanese Alps. And this is the main reason I dropped by and visited Matsumoto, a chill out before “climbing” the Japanese Alps – Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route. But before that, let me share with you what I did in Matsumoto.

For full itinerary, check out Japan Trip 2018: 10D9N Nagoya, Matsumoto, Toyama, Takayama & Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

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I got my JR Alpine-Takayama-Matsumoto Area Tourist Pass (in exchange ticket form) at ¥ 17,500 from KLOOK in KL (they sent in by registered post!!! Hassle free!). Then I exchanged it into the JR Travel Pass at Tourist Information in Chubu Centrair International Airport (or you may do it in JR Ticket Office in JR Nagoya Station). At the same time, I reserved the seats with my preferred travel time for every passenger who was travelling with me (so that our seats on train were secured!). The staff will generate you the reserved seat’s tickets and please keep it with you till you board the train. The train master will check your ticket if you are sitting on the reserved car seat compartment.

Alternatively, you may also get the JR pass (in exchange ticket form) from agents such as JTB or HIS.

Well, maybe I should do another full write up for a clear view on how to exchange your JR Pass and check on the train time, if needed?!

JR map (1)

And… We woke up super early and boarded the first and earliest train Shinano 1 from JR Nagoya Station to Matsumoto, the journey took about 2 hours on Limited Express Shinano. That’s us, very kiasu.

1. Take a walk to Tenjin Matsumoto Fukashi Jinja
Fukashi Jinja is a Shinto Shrine, a shrine that is dedicated to god of war and learning. While waiting for the next agenda after leaving the luggage in the hotel, we took a stroll to this shrine, which is just about 15 minutes away (by walking) from JR Matsumoto Station. The building was vibrant and colourful; the atmosphere was calm and peaceful at the same time.

It was pretty quiet at time during my visit. I believe it is quite happening if there are events or matsuri (festival).

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Getting there:
About 15 minutes walk from JR Matsumoto Station
Entrance fee: FOC

Tenjin Matsumoto Fukashi-jinja Shrine (天神 松本深志神社 )
3 Chome-7-43 Fukashi, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano-ken
長野県松本市深志3-7-43

2. Learn about Shinshu Miso and have a Miso Lunch in Miso Brewery
Miso is the fermented soybean paste which is an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine, also known as the must have in Japanese’s daily living. We are honoured to have Kosuke Ishii –san, the CEO of Ishii Miso Co, Ltd, also the 6th generation head of the company explained to us on miso, their company’s specialty and the benefits of miso.

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Ishii Miso Co, Ltd is founded in 1868 and it is now still producing miso by unique traditional method. Traditional miso production is getting lesser and lesser in Japan. There are only about less than 10% of miso made in Japan is made using this method and Ishii Miso is one of them who preserve this production method. Traditional Ishii Miso uses wooden barrels to ferment their miso which differ from those mass production factories that use metal barrel and fermentation runs for only a few months. The use of wooden barrels in Ishii Miso enables a “breathing” effect that allows a better and slow fermentation. Every year, the miso will be flipped and shifted by human manpower to another barrel and this is done every year for three years.

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Do not stop yourself from a miso lunch after the tour of miso brewery and tasting of 3-year miso soup. InIshii Miso Co. Ltd’s storehouse, there are products displayed for sales, there is also a section looks a little like canteen, where meals are served. Highly recommend you guys to try out their Kuramotono Lunch. Priced at ¥ 1000 per set.

Detail post will be up soon!

Getting here:
Ishii Miso is about 15 minutes’ walk from JR Matsumoto Station. It is located closed to Matsumoto Museum of Art and Matsumoto Art Performing Centre
Entrance fee/ tour: FOC

3. Be artistic and visit the art museum
Fan of Yayoi Kusama should make visit to here. Matsumoto is the homeplace for the famous artist – Yayoi Kusama, who was able to relief her visual and auditory hallucinations through arts. There are some art pieces are being exhibited here permanently and right now, her “All About My Love” exhibition is happening from 3rd March till 22nd July 2018.

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Feel free to pose and take photos with Yayoi Kusama’s sculpture artwork – Visionary Flowers, 2002 before entering the art museum.

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Gigantic pumpkin sitting in the middle of the courtyard.
There are also many interesting spots in the art museum, such as the vending machine, the bench are all in polka dots. You may also board the “Random Dancing of Polka Dots” bus designed by Yayoi Kusama from Matsumoto Station to Art Museum.

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Getting here:
About 15 minutes’ walk from JR Matsumoto station. Alternatively, take the Town Sneaker Bus to Matsumoto Bijutsukan (Museum of Art) Bus Stop.
Entrance fee: ¥ 1,200 (for Yayoi Kusama’s All About My Love)

4. Drink like a local at Genchi Well
Genchi Well is the most well-known well in the city, supplying pure spring water from the ground. It has a long history of providing drinking water for the locals and till today, the local will come here with bottles to collect the fresh spring water. Honestly speaking, the spring water is extremely sweet. We couldn’t resist filling up our bottles with the spring water.

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5. Shop at Nakamachi-dori
Nakamachi-dori is located not very far away from the castle. It is a very long street lined with beautiful preserved buildings and Kura (eathen-walled store-house) – type buildings, mostly painted in white. There are a number of shops, restaurants and ryokan located here.

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Getting here:
It is about 5 minutes’ walk from Matsumoto Castle; about 10 minutes’ walk from JR Matsumoto Station

6. Tea in La Fromagerie par Atelier du ble
We had a tea in one of the newly opened cheesecake specialty store/ bakery – La Fromagerie par Atelier du ble offers cheese cake and many fresh bakeds.

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Getting here:
It is about 5 minutes’ walk from Matsumoto Castle; about 10 minutes’ walk from JR Matsumoto Station

La Fromagerie par Atelier du ble
Located at Nakamachi-dori
Opening hours: 11am to 6pm

7. Dive into the “Frog Street”
Nawate-dori, also known as “Frog Street” (kaeru machi) is a charming shopping street that lines with merchant shops selling antique, candy, gift and souvenirs, and stylish café and bakeries. You may also find many frog figurines along this street sizing from mini to huge one, just like the three stone frogs greeting you at the west entrance of Nawate-dori, with two of them in samurai gear and another one looks as if failed in the battle.

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Getting here:
About 5 minutes’ walk from Matsumoto Castle or 10 minutes’ walk from JR Matsumoto Station.

8. Eat the jiggly soufflé pancake
Glad to find out there is this jiggly soufflé pancake in Matsumoto because there is always crazy queue in Tokyo!

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Café & Pancake Gram serves this kind of jiggly soufflé pancake three times a day and they only make 20 servings each time. Be sure to catch the serving time at 11am, 3pm and 6pm.

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We had 2 servings of the signature and a savoury pancake on the menu. After 20 minutes, the serve came with 2 plates of fluffy pancake tower, jiggled all the way from the kitchen. Each plate came in with a stack of 3 pancakes, topped with butter, dusted with powdered sugar and a dollop of foamed cream at the side. When you move the plate, it will doink doink jiggle sideway, perfect for boomerang shot and Instagram.

Café & Pancake Gram
1F, Presis Matsumoto-jo Koen,
4-9-4, Ote, Matsumoto-shi
Nagano-ken. 〒390-0874
Opens from 11am to 10pm

9. Immerse into the beauty of National Treasure – Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto Castle is one of the oldest castles, standing strong in elegant black and white against the marvellous backdrop of the Japanese Alps. It is also known as the ‘Crow Castle’ due to the black wall structure and recognized as a National Treasure. The whole scene will be incredibly stunning during full bloom in spring as the outer castle moat is filled with numerous somei yoshino cherry trees. Start planning your trip now if you wish to witness that spectacular picturesque view!

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Getting here:
The castle is about 15 minutes’ walk from JR Matsumoto Station or about 5 minutes journey on bus “Town Sneaker” Northern Course bus loop line.

10. Slurp up hot piping bowl of ramen
I understand that Matsumoto is famous for its SOBA, or buckwheat noodles that is prepared in broth and touches up with chopped green onions.

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However, we were attracted to this ramen house 中華そばマルキ商店 during our day time stroll, so here we were for the dinner.

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Delicious hot piping bowl of black ramen that was dosed with slices of pork and my favourite chopped negi!!! Priced very affordable too! Always great to have this hot piping bowl of ramen on chilling cold night!

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Getting here:
About 5 minutes’s walk (350 meters) from JR Matsumoto Station.

Chuukasobamarukishouten (中華そばマルキ商店)
2-1-5 Fukashi Matsumoto Nagano
Opens from 6pm to 5am

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