Japan

Matsumoto

Matsumoto is best known for its magnificent castle but there is plenty more to explore in this charming, cosmopolitan city. Nestled in a fertile valley and surrounded by the peaks of the Japanese Alps these spectacular views alone are worth the visit, the pretty streets lined with traditional houses, excellent museums, galleries and cafes are just an added bonus.

What to see

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Heralded as a National Treasure Matsumoto is certainly one of Japan’s most impressive castles. Also known as ‘Crow Castle’ due to its black exterior, it sits in a lovely park in the centre of the city. Protected by interconnecting moats, walls and gatehouses the castle’s wooden keep, or donjon, is Japan’s oldest, built in the 16th century. The wooden interiors are all originals – keep an eye out for the hidden floor, a regular feature in Japanese fortifications, and if you climb all the way up to the roof you’ll find some excellent views. Just outside of the moat you’ll find the interesting Japanese Folklore Museum which contains some models of the city in times gone by.

Museums

Museums

Matsumoto has a great variety of museums with something likely to pique anyone’s interest. The Matsumoto City Museum of Art features plenty of works by local artists including Kusama Yayoi whilst the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum has a collection of 100,000 wood block prints, paintings, screens and old books, just a fraction of which is on display in this renowned establishment. Slightly farther out of the city you’ll find the Folkcraft Museum housed in a building built in the traditional style whose exhibits include lacquerware and wooden chests; and the Utsukushi-ga-hara Open Air Museum which, in its beautiful plateau location, displays 350 pieces of sculpture throughout its grounds.

Where to stay

Buena Vista

Located in the very centre of Matsumoto, the Buena Vista, as the name suggests, has wonderful views over the Shinsu Mountains from it's top floor restaurant and bright, spacious rooms that offer every comfort. The hotel's restaurants are modern and stylish whilst you are perfectly located to explore the city.

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