Matsumoto Temari Balls
To get started shopping in Matsumoto, it's easiest to think in terms of neighborhoods or streets.
Photos of places: Jim George
For example, in the Matsumoto Ekimae area, immediately around the Japan Railways Matsumoto station, one can find numerous shops specializing in omiyage, regional specialties or souvenirs that are an easy way to give a taste of local flavor to friends in Japan or abroad.
The Parco department store near the station is a good place to go to take in a lot of Japanese fashion at one go.? It's basement floor has a MUJI shop, while other floors hold designer fashions for men and women. The stores in Parco are high fashion and thus often also high price and sometimes only come in one size.? The top two floors have electronics, music and musical instruments, DVDs, and Village Vanguard, which is ostensibly a bookstore too but also has all manner of bizarre and peculiar knickknacks, the kinds of things that people in their twenties might like to have in their homes.
Matsumoto Parco's English Official Site is here.
Photo: Akira Matsuo
Across the street from the Matsumoto JR train station is the Ario Department store. Ario seems to target a little older crowd than Parco with more conservative cloths. It has a wonderful grocery store in the basement with the best selection of beer, wine and spirits I have found in one place. On the first floor there are a ticket office for the bus station and a drugstore as well as a cute little flower shop. From the second to fifth floors you can find women’s, men’s and children’s clothing as well as home furnishings and toys. On the sixth floor, there are a popular variety and statinary store Loft, a mini CD store of Tower Records and a shoe store. On the top floor there are some restaurants, an arcade and a 100-yen shop. I also hear there is a place to get a pedicure there though it is a bit pricey.
Just across a small bridge on the way to Matsumoto Castle, Nawate Dori is a row of small shops with a subtle but recurring frog theme. At present the entrance is clearly marked with a large fiberglass sculpture, by students from the Tokyo University for the Arts of frogs decked out for battle. Right next to the frog sculpture is a small shop specializing in sembei, Japanese crackers made from glutinous rice. Varying soy-based glazes give the specialty sembei here varied characters, ranging from salty to spicy.
Also in Nawate Dori, keep Taiyaki Furusato in mind as a place for a light snack.
Aside from a variety of snack shops and a "Sweet" little cafe/bakery (which has been around since 1923), Nawate street also has plenty of little nick knack shops and souvenirs. There is a cute place to pick up pottery at a good price, a place with some very nice steal tea pots and of course plenty of cute frog trinkets. It is said that a frog will help things return to you. This is especially valuable in or on your purse, as it will bring you money. Yohashira shrine is also on Nawate Street and is a lovely place to sit while enjoying your taiyaki or sembei or to simply soak in the sun and people watch.
Nakamachi Street is often also referred to as Old Street or old house street. This is because the buildings and houses along this street have been restored to their tradition look. This is a beautiful street with nice little shops, cafes and bars, which have some nice food and cocktails. On the north side of the street in the middle of the first block is Bun bar that is very nice. A shop selling Kimonos and beautiful fabric has caught my eye a few times.
See also Tourist Guide Leaflet and Nakamachi Gourmet Guide Leaflet.
* Closed March 2015 and will reconstruct and open again as "Aeon Mall" in 2017.
If you follow Nakamachi Street up the river you will get to the large parking lot of Katakura Mall (this is a big building with a huge pink Jusco sign on it). Inside you will find a large Jusco grocery store, some bakeries and restaurants, a book/stationary shop and a 100-yen shop and some inexpensive clothing shops and home furnishings. There is also a soba shop right inside the door in front of 31 flavors that has been highly recommended.
Daimyocho Street is the street running from the Metaba River to the Castle.
This street has a wide range of shops. Just north from Nawate street there is a cosmetic’s shop on the east side of the street. You can get a nice pedicure or manicure here for a good price and the woman speaks English. The street that would run right into this store is Rokku street. This street has some local arts and crafts shops. On the north side a few blocks down is a nice salon called Brownie. This is a great place for a nice hair cut and even color. It is relaxing and they do a good job at figuring out what you want even if there is a language difficulty. Closer to the Castle and across the street to the south of the Matsumoto Tourist Information center is there is a shop names Gaku. This is an antique shop with many treasures. Outside there are old kimonos, yukatas (summer kimonos), obis each for 1,000 yen. Inside you can have a cup of coffee and see beautiful ceramics fabric and clothing. In the back among all sorts of antiques is a collection or beautiful kimonos. These are much more pricey then the ones outside, but it is quickly clear why.