The City in the Mountains: Exploring Matsumoto

Matsumoto wasn't initially on my places to visit in Japan, but after hearing good things about it from other travelers and reading online, I decided to go.

Matsumoto Castle

The first place I wanted to see in Matsumoto was the castle, I've read that it was one of the best in the country. So after leaving my things in the hostel, I made my way to the castle.

I paid the Y610 entrance fee which included a small museum next to the castle. Upon entering I was awestruck at how beautiful the castle was from the outside.

松本城, Matsumotojō or simply Matsumoto Castle is recognized as one of the most complete and fetching original castles in the country. It is a hirajiro, which is a castle built on a plain compared to others that were on mountains or hills.

The lake surrounding it reflects the facade, giving it an ambiance of serenity, and an air of grandeur. 

The castle is distinct because it has a turret and secondary donjon adjoined on its main keep. Because of its beauty and grandeur, it comes as no surprise that this is a popular spot to take photos of the cherry blossoms.

They were castle staff dressed as a ninja or a samurai, a bit kitschy but still fun to take pictures of or with them. I've noticed that Japanese castles tend to be minimalist, there's not much furniture but it still has an air of grandeur about it.

Lighting Up the Night Sky

The best time to visit the castle is at night, because it lights up the sky. 

You can spend half an hour just looking at the lit castle, with its reflection on the water. Visiting at night is a great way to end your stay in Matsumoto.

A Walk in the City

Matusmoto has a provincial feel to it, as the bus drove to the city center, there were vast fields for various produce, and the mountainous backdrop was the icing on the cake. I was thinking that this is what a city in the province should be like. It's not in your face and sprawling, but blends with the environment. As a city in the mountains, the weather was cool and pleasant despite it being summer. Even if the sun was high, there is always a cool breeze.

Like in other Japanese cities I've been to, the old mixes with the new smoothly and beautifully. The walking street with shops and restaurants lining it is pleasant to walk around in, and the vendors aren't pushy at all. The vibe of the city is relaxed and cool, just like the weather.

I would recommend a a few nights stay in Matsumoto because of its weather, the castle and its central location when you want to visit the old postal towns. the mountains or just simply a place to getaway from the big city hustle and bustle.


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