Japan's oldest castle tower, host to an exciting summer drum festival. The town also has a beautiful view of the Northern Alps.
Matsumoto, situated almost right in the center of Nagano and known as the gate to the Northern Alps' climbing routes, prospered as a castle town at the foot of Matsumoto Castle. The castle's tower, a 5-story, 6-layer tower built in the Bunroku Period (1593-1594) is Japan's oldest existing castle tower and is designated as a national treasure. In summer, the Taiko (Japanese drum) Festival and the Takigi-Noh (Noh play under torchlight) are held at the castle and attract many visitors.
Along the Nakamachi-dori Street to the south of the castle are many old merchant houses built in the 'kura-zukuri' style and warehouses built with 'namako' walls covered with square tiles jointed with raised plaster. The Matsumoto City Hakari-kan is a former warehouse of the Tanaka family, a weights and measures shop that was established in 1902 that now serves as a museum exhibiting a collection of measuring tools. The Old Kaichi School building is a western-style building built in 1876 and is open to the public as an education museum. To visit these places, you may want to take a Matsumoto city loop bus called 'Town Sneaker' which charges you a fixed fare to go to any of the stops along the route.
The large, green Joyama-koen Park, at an altitude of 800 meters, is where Dejiro, the guarding branch castle for Matsumoto Castle, used to be located. The view of the Northern Alps from the park is beautiful, and it is a famous cherry blossom viewing spot in spring. The neighboring Matsumoto City Alps Park has popular field athletic facilities, as well as the 630-meter-long Dream Coaster.
From Tokyo :
[Rail] 2h 40 min from Shinjuku (Tokyo) to Matsumoto Station by JR Chuo Line (limited express).
From Osaka :
[Rail] 50 min from Shin-Osaka to Nagoya Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line, and 2h from Nagoya to Matsumoto Station by JR Chuo Line (limited express).