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Matsumoto City: Brisk mountain air and local beers in Nagano's coolest city


With a range of hotels and picturesque ryokan, plus the pristine Azusa River running through the city, Matsumoto is a mountain retreat with all the comforts of the city.

In Matsumoto City, you’ll find all the good stuff like a historic castle, local craft beer, clean water from the surrounding mountains, gorgeous onsen (hot springs) and even world-renowned pop art from legendary Yayoi Kusama. The city is also a great launch pad to go to other natural gems in Nagano Prefecture.

It’s a breeze to get to this chill getaway—only about three hours from Tokyo— so what are you waiting for? Here are some of the top spots, plus other highlights of Nagano if you decide to venture out of the city.

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

We’ll start with the biggest and best highlight, the great Matsumoto Castle. This behemoth is one of the last standing 12 original castles of Japan and is packed with history. The classic view of red bridges crossing moats is enhanced at night when the castle seems to glow with the moon overhead. The castle’s iconic scenery makes it worth visiting in any season, though if you can catch the cherry blossoms in spring, go for it! The impending black structure is one of the best places to experience a Japanese castle in central Japan.

Nearby is Nakamachi Street, where you can take a trip back to days bygone and visit old merchant houses.

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© GaijinPot Travel

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Matsumoto city is a lovely place to walk around and I thought that the Matsumoto Brewery local beer was really, really good. Even better, it seemed relatively less crowded and definitely more laid back than a lot of other "touristy" places in Japan. I'd recommend this place to anyone visiting Japan who is looking for nature or culture.

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Sounds like my kind of place to visit in the middle of the August sweat-a-thon. Or, is just as humid and terrible there as any other place?

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Lived in Nagano for 10 years, the birth place of my wife. We visited Matsumoto many times mostly to visit the castle which I have painted numerous times in every season. Not much more in the city though. Famous violin school for children.

Matsumoto is the gateway to the alps and a starting point for climbing from there. Kamikochi is an amazing place to visit but only open from May until about October.

Good local craft beer and also Azumino beer.

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