Where to go?
Hmmmm... where to begin? There are so many great places to choose from. We debated for a while about how to write this section. To start out I’m just going to write about the places that I have gone and enjoyed in my time here so far and this will continue to grow. Please feel free to give us suggestions about places to add. Let us know if your restaurant is not mentioned and you would like it to be. I’m sure one of us would volunteer to try it out for you if you invite us for a meal, a drink, or a cup of coffee:-D
Keep the following in mind if you're looking for a taste of Matsumoto:
Nagano is the heartland of Soba, the Japanese buckwheat noodle. To the average Japanese ramen is perhaps the most familiar noodle dish, but keep an eye out around Matsumoto for soba restaurants and you'll find a dish aimed at a more refined palate. Soba has a mystique about it, and the simple preparations-- usually just broth and a chopped tips of a green onion-- highlight the subtle flavor of the noodles themselves. And if you can find a restaurant where they let you watch the actual noodle-making process, be prepared to see some precision knifework by practiced hands.
The Edible Horse
Most of the English-speaking world may not think of the horse as a food source, but in Matsumoto horse meat is a premium item on the menu at many establishments. If you're already well-adjusted to the experience of eating other varieties of sashimi, give basashi a try and put another notch in your belt.
The Azusagawa district, west of central Matsumoto, is well known as a growing area for high-quality apples. Their crisp texture and sweetness have made them a famous brand of their own throughout Japan. The apples are sold both by grocers and by growers directly, and during their harvest season from September to November, many orchards offer apple picking activities.
The Yamabe region of Eastern Matsumoto, with an altitude of 600-700m, considerable temperature difference between day and night, and long hours of direct sunlight, has been known as an excellent grape growing area since the first vines were introduced to Japan. Vineyards such as the Yamabe Winery and Farmer’s Garden Yamabe offer grape picking from August to December for 1,000 yen per person.
Edible Mountain Vegetables and Mushrooms
Matsumoto is surrounded on four sides by mountains, and at Japanese restaurants throughout the season you can taste seasonal fresh mountain vegetables, such as warabi and tara-no-me in the spring and mushrooms in the winter. These mountain vegetables are delicious, and characterized by unique, wild flavors.
Oyaki are a local specialty that has been eaten in Nagano prefecture since long long ago. They are made by kneading a flour -based dough, filling it with ingredients, and then steaming and baking the resulting dumpling according to the chef's preference. There are a wide variety of variations, and common ingredients include eggplant, mushrooms, red bean past, stir-fried mountain vegetables, dried daikon radish, and spicy vegetables. They can be bought in Nagano everywhere from supermarkets to oyaki specialty shops.
"Shinshu(=Nagano) Miso" is a famous brand of miso (Japanese salty bean paste seasoning). The Matsumoto area is one of the major production centers of it. The cool climate and pure air is ideal for aging miso. Miso is known as a health food, as the ingredients have preventative effects against life-style related diseases. You can enjoy the marvelous flavor in various ways, not only in miso soup, but also miso-mayonnaise, dressing and so on.
See also Sightseeing - Ishii Miso Brewery page.