Famous for Matsumoto Castle with its unusual and distinctive black exterior
Matsumoto, in central Nagano prefecture on Japan’s main island, Honshu, is nestled in the Japanese Alps. It is famous for its impressive castle, dating from the 16th century, nicknamed “Crow Castle” due to its impressive black walls. The city has many relaxing hot springs and energising hiking trails, and is the gateway to the ancient Nakasendo Way walking route. The town itself has some interesting areas lined with old merchant houses reminiscent of a bygone era. During winter there are areas nearby which are ideal for skiing and snowboarding. The region is also famous for delicious soba (buckwheat) noodles, perhaps try your hand at making them yourself.
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Here we have selected a few of the sights and experiences that you really should see on a visit to Matsumoto.
Matsumoto-jo is Japan's oldest wooden castle and one of four castles designated National Treasures. The striking black-and-white three-turreted donjon was completed around 1595, when it got the nickname Crow Castle. You can climb steep steps all the way to the top, for impressive views and historical displays on each level.
Learn to Make Soba Noodles
Soba is a local delicacy, and rather than eating some at a restaurant, why not try making the noodles yourself? It isn't a simple process, but after two-and-a-half hours of kneading, rolling, flattening and cutting, you’ll have your very own batch of hand-made noodles.
Soak in an Onsen
No visit to Matsumoto is complete without a relaxing soak in an onsen. Buy an entry ticket and a towel from the vending machine at the entrance and spend some time contemplating life in the rotenburo (open-air bath).
Some of our tours featuring Matsumoto
Japan Semi-Escorted Nature
Great Trail of Japan
17 day tour from £4,699
Journey through Japan, taking in some of the most picturesque locations.
Japan Tailor Made Trekking
4 day tour from £699
Discover the Nakasendo Way, one of Japan’s ancient highways, connecting Kyoto and Tokyo during the Edo period.