A Journey to Matsumoto –
A Charming Castle Town Located at the Foothills of the Majestic Japanese Alps
At the end of October, I journeyed to Matsumoto, a charming castle town located at the foothills of the majestic Japan Alps in Nagano Prefecture. Matsumoto is one of my favorite towns in Japan and I always look forward to the opportunity to visit there. Autumn is an especially beautiful time of year to visit Matsumoto as the cool crisp air allows for a picture perfect view of Matsumoto’s four hundred year old castle, a national treasure, set against the backdrop of the Japan Alps with their first dusting of snow.
On this recent trip to Matsumoto, I had the pleasure of staying at Myojinkan, a wonderful ryokan or Japanese inn located approximately forty minutes outside of town. As I passed through the forests and valleys laden with autumn foliage on my way to Myojinkan, my sense of anticipation gradually heightened and I was not to be disappointed. Myojinkan offered not only splendid rooms but a wonderful onsen or Japanese bath where one can peacefully relax in enticingly warm water while gazing upon a beautiful mountain stream. The food at Myojinkan was excellent with an abundance of local produce and seasonal vegetables.
A visit to Matsumoto is not complete without a stroll down Nakamachi Dori with its Edo period kura or storehouses, many of which have been converted into restaurants and shops. Without fail, I always leave Matsumoto with an antique or local craft as a remembrance of my visit there. Matsumoto can be visited on an overnight trip from Tokyo or as part of a journey that will take you onwards to the delightful town of Takayama.
By Philip Rosenfeld