A Stroll Through Matsumoto
Early summer vibes at Matsumoto Castle
Having been to Matsumoto various times throughout my time at japan-guide.com to report on the cherry blossoms, today I was looking forward to taking a stroll through this old city to explore it in a different way, and perhaps gain a more in-depth understanding of it.
I can honestly say that over the course of my numerous visits to the castle, it has never ceased to impress me with its jet black walls and imposing silhouette against a backdrop of the Japanese Alps. Today was my first time to visit during the early summer however, and I found that the offering of vivid, in-bloom flowers beneath the bright blue sky made the castle grounds seem a little less austere than usual.
Majestic Matsumoto Castle with the Japan Alps in the background
Nice views of the city
In addition to taking in the views, I took great pleasure in navigating the castle's interior, which is almost exclusively wooden with a series of steep staircases that lead visitors up through the levels, just as in the feudal era. The old atmosphere within these walls allowed me to really appreciate how old the castle is, with one of its buildings even dating back to the year 1592!
The castle gets more and more imposing the closer one gets
The castle's wooden interior
Stumbling upon a market
All types of crafts, knick-knacks and memorabilia for sale
A great thirst quencher
I was pleased that Frog Street was rather lively, and I relished the chance to saunter up the street towards the shrine as I peered into the various shops that purvey a plethora of crafts and souvenirs.
Know where you are
Some even dating back as far as the feudal era, the kura in this part of town today house an eclectic variety of cute cafes, a la mode restaurants and boutiques purveying fashion, crafts and furniture.
I took a lot of pleasure in walking around the area and popping in and out of different shops. With old buildings playing host to such stylish, artsy establishments, this part of town particularly exudes the atmosphere of "old meets new" that epitomizes Matsumoto.
Nakamachidori in Nakamachi
Some very old buildings...
...playing host to bohemian boutiques
One can really feel the history in this part of town
After enjoying a top-quality selection of sushi that included salmon, tuna, squid and eel to name a few, I got talking to the chef about the building we were in, and he told me that years ago, it was located slightly to the west of where it is now, but was moved when the lane it previously stood along was widened into a road. This conversation made me consider Matsumoto's evolution from a feudal town to a stylish, modern city.
Strolling through town
Entering Kura and the building that once stood where I did upon taking this photograph!
The inside was sophisticated and impressive
I particularly enjoyed admiring the clocks from centuries ago and noted how intricately designed some of them were. I certainly recommend this place for clock fanatics and those that have (or indeed are in search of) the time.
The Matsumoto Timepiece Museum
Lots of clocks on display
Born and raised in Matsumoto, Kusama developed her artistry in both Japan and the United States, and is known for her hallmark brightly colored and audaciously patterned art. The museum's collection includes an impressive selection of her quirky paintings and sculptures, and I can honestly say that walking around the exhibition space and getting up close to these pieces was a pleasure. This museum is must for any art fans visiting Matsumoto.
The Matsumoto City of Art
Visitors are met with an impressive art piece by the museum's entrance
A spacious, modern interior
The most famous well in Matsumoto, Genchi has provided the city's residents with wonderfully clear spring water for centuries, and today, local residents still come here to fill up bottles. Bidding farewell to the city for now, Matsumoto is a place I aim to return to in the near future.
Heading back down Frog Street before my time in Matsumoto comes to an end