Matsumoto hotspots – 48 hours in Matsumoto

Matsumoto is the second largest city in Nagano and famous for it’s beautiful castle. (In my opinion even more beautiful than Osaka castle!) I have lived in Matsumoto for 5 months during my study abroad, so in this post I will take you on a trip to this beautiful city! Start your day off by getting a good breakfast, because a you will need it for adventuring through Matsumoto!

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle is one of the best preserved castles in Japan and is located in Matsumoto, Nagano. The castle is surrounded by a park with many cherry blossoms that bloom during spring somewhere around Apil. The castle is a picture-worthy scene all year round with the beautiful Alps on the background. There are many events to be held at and around the castle, you can click here to see whether there is an upcoming event to be held during your stay. You can also enter the castle for 700¥.

Nawate dori

Nawate dori, or Nawate street, is also a must see hotspot when visiting Matsumoto. It is a small street near the riverbank aligned with many food and gift shop along each side. In the past it had always been full of laughter, by both humanlaughtrr and the siund of frogs croaking in the evening. However, when a typhoon and many days of rain hit the region, the river carried much water and debris, it swept away many oc the frogs with it, leaving the river full of dirt. Eager to rebuilt the beloved street and for the frogs to return, the streets are now full of little fog statues and other pieces of art as a symbol for bringing back the cleanliness of the Metoba river. The street is now also well known as Kaeru Machi. Kaeru can mean many different things, from 買える which means ‘to be able to buy’ to 帰る which means to return home (safely), and 可得る which means to ‘be accepted and feeling welcome’ to of course 蛙 which stands for ‘frog’.

The Timepiece museum

A collector of clocks decided to put his collection on display for everyone to enjoy. The Matsumoto Time Piece Museum display many different clocks, from all over the world. This includes watches, quirky designs and clocks that were used in certain professions. Outside, on the front of the building is a huge working pendulum, this is the largest one in the Japan!

Ukiyo-e Museum

If you like art, especially ukiyo-e, then you cannot miss the Matsumoto Ukiyo-e Museum. Starting out as a private collection, the amount of artworks grew so much it is currently one of the world’s largest private Ukiyo-e art collections.

Matsumoto City Museum of Art

The Matsumoto City Museum of Art is an art museum with some of the bright and lively artworks from Kusama Yayoi. The museum showcases many of her artworks and also art from artists associated with Matsumoto city, with a collection that rotates all year round.

The best daytrips from Matsumoto


There are two ways to travel from Matsumoto to Kamikochi, either take a train and transfer to a bus at Shin-Shimashima station or ride a direct bus from Matsumoto Bus Terminal to Kamikochi at about a hour of driving from Matsumoto. This is a beautiful lake to hike and relax, getting away from the busy city life. With beautiful water, trees and mountains suring every season.

Kamikouchi during Summer
Kamikouchi during Autumn

The Norikura Highlands

And if you want some more nature and hiking, you can visit one of Japans’ youngest volcanoes at Norikura Highlands. The highland is located Takayama, Kamikochi and Matsumoto City and is famous for its splendid nature. Take a walk though the beautiful forest, and sit down next to the amazing Zengoro no taki waterfall. Enjoy nature along the waters and take in the beauty nature has to offer. Maybe you can spot some cute (local) animals.

Eating soba

Nagano is well-known for their Soba, so naturally you will need to try some here. It is made from buckwheat flour made from buckwheat grown in Nagano. The Buckwheat has a much more protein and fiber which makes for the perfect soba noodle consistency. Eat it either hot or cold, dipping it in a delicious sauce. But even better, try to make your own soba! It will taste even better after a day of hard work making it.

Soba noodles, a Nagano speciality

Where to stay

There are many hotels in and around Matsumoto city. Since Matsumoto is still not very known between tourists, the hotels are quite cheap. Hotel New Station is a hotel near the train station for which you pay around €45 a night. There are many other hotels around for these prices. Prices of course can vary, with much more luxurious ryokan near the Alps if you are looking for a romantic get-away.

How to get there by train

Since Matsumoto is located in between thee mountains, I recommend taking the train. You will be able to enjoy riding through the mountains, believe me, you will be in awe!

From Tokyo: Taking the JR train, it takes about 3 hours (which is what we did), you can also take the Limited Express Chuo Line from Nagoya, which takes about 1,5 hours. You can make use of the Japan Rail Pass during this trip, just make sure you check beforehand which trains are included in the pass.

For more information on bus fares while in Matsumoto and weather forecasts, please visit the Matsumoto home page by clicking here.

How to use the bus in Japan

Taking the bus in Japan to go around can be a bit confusing. You get in at the side entrance, not the front, and then take a small ticket from a machine next to the door (like what you do when waiting at the hospital when you take a numbered ticket). What this ticket does is showing you how much you need to pay when getting off. There is a pricing list at the front of the bus which you can use to check the price. After you get off, you walk to the front of the bus, keep your small change ready and put the right amount in an box near the bus driver. Once you get used to it, it’s really easy and convenient to use the bus to get around Matsumoto.

What is your favorite city in Japan?

One Comment Add yours

  1. what a fantastic looking castle! 🏯

    Liked by 1 person

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