Happy holidays! Snow falls in the north mountain areas in Nagano, so it is white Christmas.
In the last year’s winter, I wrote about the launch of Hakuba from/to Matsumoto direct express bus service. Again this year, it operates from Dec 17 till Mar 20!
Check out this new English website.
Free shuttle buses between Matsumoto and Mt. Norikura/Nomugi Pass ski resorts are operating this year, too. You need reservation for them. See the details on Japanese websites (Mt. Norikura / Nomugi Pass).
Another good news, ‘Sumo road-show in Matsumoto’ will be also held next April again. It might be the season of cherry blossoms seen in and around Matsumoto Castle beautifully.
Time: 8 am to 3 pm, Friday 14th, April
Venue: Matsumoto City General Gymnasium (Google map)
Ticket: advance-sale tickets will be sold from Feb 1 (probably walk-up tickets will also be sold)
Refer to the Japanese website and our previous blog article.
Are you interested in Matsumoto Castle and other Japanese castles and cultures at the samurai age? If so, now ‘Castle Expo’ in Yokohama is being held to Dec 25. See this PDF document.
Now fall foliage in downtown Matsumoto is at the final stage.
This morning, at the entrance of Matsumoto City Museum of Art, I was surprised to see beautiful red colored trees collaborating with Matumoto-born Yayoi Kusama’s artwork on the building. Nature’s red and yellow colors are competing with artificial red and yellows.
The artwork was created before fall foliage starts. Is it just coincidence, or calculated art by Yayoi Kusama? Genius!
You can enjoy the Kusama world in the permanent exhibition inside the building.
Now, autumn is a season of beautiful, colored foliage, mushrooms in forests, and don’t forget the harvesting of yummy FRUITS as one of Nagano’s specialty!
This year, a young farming couple (with a baby) who moved from Tokyo starts apple picking experience with pick-up service from Matsumoto Castle, on Oct 11.
They live in a traditional farmer house near Alps Park, so the experience is not only picking fresh apples in their orchard, but also sitting in their tatami room, having Japanese tea and various autumn food, and touring around their Japanese-style house if you want.
The fee ¥3000 includes all-you-can-eat picked apples and carry-out of two.
You can book the service from the reservation form on their English website. Reservation is required by noon of the day (preferably by the previous day). They are closed on Sundays.
See the following flyer for the details.
* The picking experience will end on Nov 21th because their apples will be finished earlier than expected.
About other orchards (without pick-up service) and more info about fruits including grapes, see this blog.
In the Matsumoto Castle garden, a tea ceremony is held several times a year.
This summer, it’ll be held on August 6th and 7th, at the beginning of the free admission period for visitors wearing kimono, and also the extension period of entrance hours (8:00 till door closes at 17:30 , normally 8:30-16:30) (until August 16).
Members of the youth group of the Urasenke school of tea ceremony school wearing yukata (a kind of kimono) will serve you cold green powdered tea with Japanese cake for 500 yen. The leader of the group speaks English.
Also, there is a full-scale tea-ceremony room (tyashitsu) with a tea garden in Ikegami Hyakuchikutei, just a few minutes walk northward from the castle.
You can look inside the tea room and garden freely (9:00-17:00 except Monday) without charge when it is not used.
How about wearing kimono at newly opened Kimono & Ninja Costume Wearing & Rental Shop ‘Hanakomichi’, go to the castle, take your photo with an armored man of ‘omotenashi-tai’, enter the castle free of charge, taste cold tea at the castle garden (if you visit Aug 6 or 7), then visit the tea room in Hyakuchikutei?
This is a perfect plan to experience traditional castle culture!
A local beautician opened a fantastic shop of kimono (traditional Japanese clothes) and a ninja costume wearing & rental service on July 5th.
It is located close to the street toward the entrance of the Matsumoto Castle and you don’t need a reservation in advance if you are not from a large group.
So, why don’t you look into the shop? If you find your favorite costume from various kinds of them, use the wearing & rental service, walk to the castle (just 5 min) and take perfect photos with the castle in the background with your camera or cell phone.
A professional dresses you in kimono or ninja wear only within 15 mins.
The rental fees start at 3,500 yen (for 2 hours).
And, if you wear a kimono around town, you can advantage of special discounts offered at times during the summer.
One is of these is the “Nakamachi Street Yukata Festival.” During July 1 and 18, visitors wearing kimono or yukata can get special service in 29 restaurants, cafes, izakaya (Japanese pubs) and bars.
Another is free admission to the Matsumoto Castle for visitors wearing kimono between August 6 and 16.
See this page for the details.
I heard two good news for foreign travelers to Matsumoto.
One is a new ATM machine has been installed in the tourist information center at one block south of Matsumoto Castle. You can withdraw Japanese yen by your international cash or credit card as well as ATMs in Seven-Eleven convenience stores and post offices.
See this PDF leaflet for the details.
Another is new bus service to Utsukushigahara Heights. Until last year, a bus to the Utsukushigahara Heights Art Museum operated only early August to mid-August. This year, another direct bus to Utsukushigahara Heights operates weekend of June 18 to Sep 19 and everyday of July 25 to August 31. It departs from the Alps (west) Exit of the station at 8:00 and 13:30 (twice per day).
This March, Matsumoto City installed free Wi-fi at 11 major sightseeing spots.
See this map to find the spots and here for the SSID and the condition of use.
Please look for the following symbol mark to find the wi-fi spots.
At the same time, we optimized the screen of this site for smart phones and also developed a new Google map page
to make it easier to find your destination, restaurants, shops and hotels.
Last year’s cherries with the Castle (April 9th)
According to the ‘Cherry Blooming Forecast’, cherries at the Castle and downtown Matsumoto might begin blooming April 3rd. The event ‘Nighttime Cherry Blossom Viewing’ will be held from three days after cherries begin blooming and continue 8 days (so possibly around April 6th till 13th)
The special illumination for the cherries will start from the same day and will continue two days longer (10 days).
On April 7th, ‘Sumo road-show in Matsumoto’ will be held again. The last year’s road-show was heated because of a new hero ‘Mitake-umi’ from Kiso in Nagano Prefecture. You might see some sumo wrestlers viewing cherries somewhere after the show if you are very lucky.
This winter, Hakuba from/to Matsumoto direct express bus service has newly operated.
The bus connects Happo/Goryu/Sanosaka ski resorts to Matsumoto by 1,500 or 1,800 yen (depending the day). It departs Matsumoto 7:00 and departs Hakuba 16:00 (two hours ride).
So, after enjoying ski/snowboard in world-renowned ski resort Hakuba, why don’t you ride the bus and eat supper, drink at bar/izakaya, stay in Matsumoto, and see another world-renowned spot, Matsumoto Castle? (Hakuba has a “supper refugees” problem of a shortage of restaurants for skiers.)
Check out this website.
Also, there are winter-limited shuttle buses between Matsumoto and Mt. Norikura/Nomugi Pass ski resorts. You need reservation and the websites (Mt. Norikura / Nomugi Pass) are in Japanese, but they’re FREE! They depart Matsumoto 7:50/8:15 and depart Norikura/Nomugi 15:40/16:00 (only 1:40/1:15 ride).
Let’s stay in Matsumoto and enjoy skiing/snowboading/snowshoeing/sleigh in the Japan Alps!
Sumo road-show will come back again this Wednesday 14th.
A photo of the last road-show 2007
8 years has passed since the last sumo
in Matsumoto. Refer to a blog article “Gentle Giants of Sumo”
at that time.
Super strong Mongolian yokozuna (grand champion) Hakuho still reigns over 8 years (he is injured so cannot come back again this time but other two yokozunas and major wrestlers will come).
And, a new hero from Kiso in Nagano Prefecture will step onto the sumo ring (dohyo) in his home prefecture. He is Mitake-umi, named from the volcano Ontake, which erupted last year and caused many victims and much damages to Kiso area. At that time he was a college student and the strongest amateur wrestler. He chose to become a professional sumo wrestler and encourage Kiso people.
He has scored very well in lower divisions and will make his debut in the makuuchi (top) division this November.
So, he will return in triumph in this sumo performance in Matsumoto and get great applause.
Most wrestlers will stay in Asama hot springs. You may see some of them if you are lucky.
By the way, Chanko (special stew sumo wrestlers eat) Dining Sumotei has opened by ex-sumo wrestler near Matsumoto Castle last year. See this tripadvisor page.
- Time: 8 am to 3 pm, Wednesday 14th, October
- Venue: Matsumoto City General Gymnasium (Google map)
- Ticket: advance-sale tickets were sold out. Walk-up tickets will be sold from 8 am (probably there will be a long line)
- Japanese website: http://matumoto-sumou.com/