Matsumoto is one of the mountain gateway towns with connections to Komikochi. For a home-base we preferred Takayama, which I will discuss in a later post, as Matsumoto doesn’t have much to offer other than one of the top castles in Japan.
For those looking for authenticity Matsumoto may be the destination for you. While there is some indication that you are in a tourist town this small city, about 250,000, feels more like a working town with next to no tourist shops or restaurants around the castle.
The castle, the oldest wooden example in Japan, is mostly about the very steep wooden stairs with bamboo railings that lead five stories up.
Artifacts, predominately muskets, make the walk around the slick wood floors a little more interesting. The top floor has views on all four sides.
Chicken wire prevents a clear view but there are holes in the wiring large enough to maneuver your camera lens.
Set in an open garden with a moat around the outside it’s a pretty setting and is beautifully lit at night with a superb reflection in the still water. Best with a wide angle lens and tripod of which I had neither.
Walk along the Ta River
Both Lonely Planet and Rough Guide recommend walks along either side of the Ta river.
The road along the north side of the river, Nawate-dori, has low wooden structures with small shops including antique-type shops, a few cafes and other eateries but not many.
The main road on the south side of the river, Nakamachi-dori, has mostly white buildings creating another quaint walkway with a few more cafes, restaurants and shops.
All in all Mastumoto isn’t really a destination town and may be better as a stopover on the way to somewhere else.
September 25, 2017
For links to all the posts in this series see the Japan page.