Located practically in the center of Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto City has long served as a bustling trading post due to being where the former thoroughfares between the ancient capital of Kyoto and Edo (modern-day Tokyo) converge. Matsumoto is also the gateway to Kamikochi, one of Japan’s most popular highland resorts. Matsumoto Castle, which features Japan’s oldest existing castle tower, is the symbol of the city, and Utsukushigahara Plateau, the nation’s largest plateau, stretches to the east of the city, offering a panoramic view of the Northern and Southern Alps, the Southern Yatsugatake Volcanic Group, and Mt. Asama.
During the Edo Period (1600/1603-1868), the city of Matsumoto channeled considerable resources into education and is said to have had the largest number of terakoya (temple-based educational centers) in the region (formerly known as Shinano Province.) During the Meiji Period (1868-1912), Kaichi School was built; adopting a mysterious architectural style that was neither entirely Western nor entirely Japanese. The school symbolizes Japan’s era of civilization and enlightenment. This style is characterized by the grand balcony — a queer fusion of East-meets-West elements — and an octagonal tower with a tiled roof resembling that of a temple in the center, and sculptures of angels perched above clouds and dragons.
The building was designated a national treasure in 2019. It is currently closed to the public due to earthquake-proofing scheduled for completion by around 2024.
Getting there and around
Shinshu Matsumoto Airport → Matsumoto Bus Terminal (about 30 minutes by local bus) → JR Matsumoto Station (about 5 minutes on foot)
JR Nagoya Station → JR Matsumoto Station (about 2.5 hours by Limited Express Shinano)
JR Shinjuku Station → JR Nagano Station (about 2.5 hours by Limited Express Shinano)
Matsumoto City has many attractions including its national treasure — Matsumoto Castle, historically-significant buildings such as the former Kaichi School and former Matsumoto High School, and the Matsumoto City Museum of Art, which exhibits the works of Kusama Yayoi, a world-renowned artist hailing from Matsumoto City.
Matsumoto Castle is Japan's oldest five-tiered castle with a six-story keep, and one of only 12 castles in the country with a keep that dates back pre-Edo Period (1600/1603-1868). Currently, only two ...
Kamikochi is located in the west of Nagano Prefecture, on the border with Gifu Prefecture, at an altitude of about 1,500 meters. Although 1.2 million people visit every year, Kamikochi retains much of...