Nestled in the picturesque Nagano Prefecture of Japan, Matsumoto is a captivating city renowned for its historical charm, cultural treasures, and breathtaking natural beauty. With its iconic Matsumoto Castle, arts scene, and serene landscapes, this city offers visitors a memorable experience. Keep reading for a guide to taking a day trip to Matsumoto.
Getting to Matsumoto
You can take a day trip to Matsumoto from Tokyo, Nagano, or Kanazawa.
From Tokyo: It’s about a 2.5 hour train journey from Shinjuku Station or 2.5-3 hours from Tokyo Station. or Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.
From Nagano: It’s about an hour by train from Nagano Station.
From Kanazawa: It’s about a 2.5 hour train journey from Kanazawa Station.
One Day Itinerary of Matsumoto
If you started your day early (which is always best to avoid the crowds), I suggest heading straight to the city’s crowning jewel, Matsumoto Castle. Dating back over four centuries, this iconic black-and-white castle, also known as the “Crow Castle,” is one of Japan’s most striking historic fortresses. Marvel at the castle’s architecture, characterized by its unique three-turreted design, moats, and imposing stone walls. Be sure to also explore the inside of the castle to get an idea of how it was used (just watch your head while using the stairs). Afterwards, take a stroll through the gardens, filled with cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant foliage in autumn.
For lunch, indulge in the local specialty, “Soba.” Matsumoto is renowned for its delicious buckwheat noodles. Find a cozy restaurant and enjoy the flavors of this traditional dish, served with a variety of accompaniments such as tempura, fresh vegetables, or wild mushrooms. I highly recommend Kobayashi Soba. The soba noodles served here are homemade and honestly the most delicious soba I have ever eaten.
After exploring the castle, it’s time to dive into Matsumoto’s thriving art and cultural scene. Make your way to the nearby Matsumoto City Museum of Art, located in a modernist building designed by renowned architect Kisho Kurokawa. The museum showcases a diverse collection of Japanese and international contemporary art, including works by prominent artists.
Next, take a leisurely stroll along Nakamachi Street, a beautifully preserved historical district lined with traditional buildings and shops. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of old Japan as you browse through galleries, craft boutiques, and charming cafes. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the local breweries before you catch your train back to Tokyo, Nagano, or Kanazawa.