Matsumoto, a town that prospered as a castle town, is surrounded by the northern Japanese Alps mountain ranges to the west and Utsukushigahara Plateau to the east. From any place in the city, you can see beautiful scenery of the mountains. In the town, touring historical buildings and eating tasty foods at well-established shops is enjoyable. Matsumoto Castle, a national treasure, has a wooden castle tower of five stories and six floors inside. It is the oldest castle of such type in Japan. You can see inside the castle tower and enjoy the panoramic view of the city from the top of the tower.
Former Kaichi School is a quasi-Western style building that carpenters built in the past by eclectically imitating other Western buildings. Elaborate carvings decorate the facade. It is Japan’s oldest extent quasi-Western style building mixing building styles of West and East. Details such as exotic stained glass, a dragon motif carving, and karahafu, or traditional entrance roof style, are interesting to see. There are many other buildings of historical interest in Matsumoto.
Nakamachi-dori Street is lined with storehouses with white and black walls. The street is part of the old Zenkoji-Kaido, the Edo-era road between Matsumoto and Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City. You can enjoy visiting folk craft shops, galleries, and cafes. Matsumoto Clock and Watch Museum is home to a collection of old clocks and watches. Japan-design clocks, and classical and beautiful clocks and watches from other countries of the world are exhibited.
Nawate-dori Street is a shopping street with row houses. Venerable soba (buckwheat) noodle shops, taiyaki snack shops, and variety stores line the sides of the street.
A 15-minute drive from Matsumoto Castle will take you to Asama Onsen, a favorite place of the lords of Matsumoto domain. Another famous spa, Utsukushigahara Onsen is also quite close by.
Walking around the town is enjoyable, but if you want to give your legs some rest using Matsumoto Tour Bus (Matsumoto Sneaker Bus) is also a good way to see the sights. A day ticket (500 yen) includes discount of the admission fee of some facilities, so it is both convenient and economical.