The Official Tourism Site of Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan
Weather
Archive by month

How to Make Your Own Oyaki Dumplings

When I first sunk my teeth into an oyaki dumpling (one of Matsumoto’s local food specialties), I was instantly addicted. Oyaki are fat, round dumplings that are made by stuffing a flour-based dough with various fillings, and then steaming and briefly grilling or pan-frying them to give the outer skin a bit of nice crisp. They remind me a little bit of Chinese dumplings, except that oyaki are plumper, less oily, and their dough skins are usually thicker.

A batch of homemade oyaki!

A batch of homemade oyaki!

The fillings for oyaki are most commonly vegetable-based, being made with Nozawana greens (a local vegetable), eggplant, mushrooms, and daikon radish. There are also sweet versions made with kabocha squash/Japanese pumpkin and sweet bean paste.

If you’re in Matsumoto or other places in Nagano, it’s pretty easy to get your hands on some oyaki, as they’re sold in oyaki specialty shops, souvenir shops, supermarkets, and sometimes even convenience stores. But what to do when you go back home and you wish you could have just one more bite of a tasty oyaki dumpling? Well, we’re in luck because they are surprisingly easy to make at home!

After I had declared my love for the oyaki, my neighbor and a soba shop owner here in Matsumoto generously offered to teach me how to make them. So, I figured I should share with everyone else too!

My neighbor demonstrating how to fill the oyaki.

My neighbor demonstrating how to fill the oyaki.

The best thing about oyaki is that once you know how to make the simple dough, you can stuff them with any kind of filling your heart desires. I’ll go over the basics below.

DOUGH INGREDIENTS/EQUIPMENT (for 10 oyaki):

  • 250 g (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 150 ml (just a bit less than 2/3 cup) warm water
  • Steamer (Any kind will work. If it’s small you’ll just need to steam in batches)
  • Working surface for working with the dough; e.g. wooden cutting board, clean counter, etc.

OYAKI FILLING IDEAS:

  • Stir-fried vegetables and/or mushrooms
  • Mashed kabocha squash/Japanese pumpkin sweetened with sugar
  • Thickly sliced Japanese eggplant rounds, smeared with miso paste (also good if you mix in a little sugar into the miso paste). You could also chop the eggplant into cubes instead. Keep it raw, as it will cook when steaming.
  • Sweet red bean paste
  • Ground or chopped meats, seasoned how you like (e.g. salt, pepper, chopped onions, spices, etc. or think Chinese-style dumplings!)
  • Any kind of cooked leftovers that you think might taste good stuffed into a dumpling 😉
  • Japanese-style ingredients include kinpira gobo (spicy carrot & burdock root), unohana (okara & vegetables), hijiki seaweed cooked with vegetables, etc.

MAKING THE DOUGH:

  1. Measure out flour in a medium bowl and gradually mix in water until the dough comes together. It shouldn’t be very sticky and wet, but it also shouldn’t be crumbly-dry.
  2. Cover the dough with plastic wrap to prevent if from drying out and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Place the dough on a working surface dusted with flour. Roll it into a long, thick tube shape and cut the dough into 10 equal sized pieces (around 20 g, if you’re measuring).
  4. Form each piece of dough into a round ball.

STUFFING THE DUMPLINGS:

  1. Flatten a ball of dough and stretch it into a thin, circular skin. Try to keep the middle slightly thicker than the outside. You want to be careful not to stretch it super thin or the skin could tear when stuffing, but if the dough is too thick, it may end up chewy.
  2. Place the skin in the palm of your hand and put a good dollop of your filling into the middle.
  3. Begin folding over the sides of the skin until it completely encloses the filling. Use your fingers to pinch or press the skin together so it creates a seal.
  4. Repeat for the remaining dough balls until all oyaki dumplings are finished.
  5. P.S. It may seem hard at first, but the more you do, the better you’ll get!
Folding over the sides of the skin to seal the dumpling. This one is stuffed with eggplant slices, miso paste,  and shiso leaf

Folding over the sides of the skin to seal the dumpling. This one is stuffed with eggplant slices, miso paste, and shiso leaf

STEAMING/GRILLING:

  1. Prepare a steamer so the water is boiling by the time your oyaki are ready to be put in. You can optionally line the bottom of the steamer with greens (lettuce, kale, etc.) or something like wax paper to help prevent sticking, but usually they are fine without.
  2. Without overcrowding, place the oyaki in the steamer. They get a little bigger as they cook, so leave some room in between each one or else they dumplings will stick together and the skin will tear when you try to take them out (do it batches if necessary/have a small steamer).
  3. Steam for 20 minutes and remove to a plate
  4. To get a nice crisp texture and color on the surface of the dumplings, grill or pan-fry each side on each side. This is optional.
  5. They are ready to eat! Oyaki also taste great after they have cooled down.

Oyaki in the steamer

Oyaki in the steamer


Grilling oyaki in a frying pan

Grilling oyaki in a frying pan

SAVING LEFTOVERS:

  • Freezing: Cooked oyaki freeze very well. Just wrap each one in plastic wrap and freeze. When you’re ready to eat, you can simply microwave them until they are warm.
  • Refrigerating: Cooked oyaki will stay good for a few days in fridge. Wrap in plastic or put in a container. You can eat them cool, microwave, or re-grill when you’re ready to eat.

I hope you enjoy!

Make a whole bunch and freeze for later!

Make a whole bunch and freeze for later!

December Events (2017)

Who can believe that December is already here? The last month of the year features a wide variety of events in genres ranging from the arts and culture to sports and history.

Kamiakari Bamboo Candles Illumination (in Azumino)

Over 10,000 bamboo candles light up Hotaka Shrine in their other-worldly glow. If you come by 3:50 p.m. and bring your own long-necked lighter, you can actually participate in lighting the candles!

Photo credit: Azumino Tourism Website

Photo credit: Azumino Tourism Website

Dates: Friday, Dec 1 to Sunday, Dec 3
Location: Hotaka Shrine (30 min. from Matsumoto in Azumino City) – see details here.
Time: 4:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

Matsumoto Cross Country Race

This race takes place at the big park that surrounds Matsumoto Airport with a full view of the Japan Alps. You can watch races ranging from 1,000 meters to 8,000 meters, with age groups range from elementary school children to adults over 40. (see more event details in Japanese here. Note: entry to participate as a runner is already closed.)

Location: Shinshu Sky Park Family Sports Zone (Google map)
Date: Sunday, December 3
Time: Races begin from 9 a.m.

Christmas Candle Night at the Matsumoto Museum of Art

Enjoy listening to music while strolling around the art museum garden lit up in numerous soft candle lights.

Yayoi Kusama's gigantic flower sculpture lit up in candlelight

Yayoi Kusama’s gigantic flower sculpture lit up in candlelight


Date: Saturday, December 9
Time: 4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
Location: Matsumoto Museum of Art (Map)

Night Museum at the Japanese Court and Open-air Architectural Museum (Rekishi no Sato)

Enjoy special extended hours at the Japanese Court Museum which allows you to see the beauty of the traditional Japanese Meiji-style architecture of Japan’s oldest wooden court building lit up at night. Regular exhibits are also open during the extended hours (see more info about the museum here)

The court building lit up at night

The court building lit up at night

Dates: Saturday, Dec 9 – Sunday, Dec 10
Time: 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. (extended nighttime hours from 5:00 p.m.)
Location: Japanese Court and Open-air Architectural Museum (Rekishi no Sato, Google Map)
Admission: Adults ¥400, free for junior high school students and under

World of Martial Arts Event

Watch and even try out 12 different kinds of traditional martial arts, including kendo, naganata (polearm fighting), sumo, aikido, kobudo (traditional Japanese weaponry), Japanese archery and more—all for free! See more details in our previous blog post about this event.

Practicing one of the weapon arts

Practicing on of the weapon arts

Location: Matsumoto City Sogo Taikukan (Gymnasium, see Google map)
Date: Sunday, December 10
Time: Participatory classes from 9:30–11:50 a.m. / Exhibitions from 1:00–4:00 p.m.
Cost: Free!

Matsumoto Cinema Select: Lost in Paris showing

A 2016 French/Belgium comedy, also known as Paris pieds nus featuring stars Fiona Gordon, Dominique Abel, and Emmanuelle Riva. See more info on IMDb.

Movie poster for Lost in Paris

Movie poster for Lost in Paris

Date: Wednesday, December 13
Time: 8:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
Location: Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre (map)
Cost: On-the-day tickets – ¥1,800 for adults, ¥1,400 for university/high school students.

Opera Chanchiki (Citizen’s Opera Performance)

An opera theater performance based on an old Japanese folktale and music featuring both traditional Japanese instruments and an orchestra. Performances by local opera, chorus, and Japanese instrument groups.

Image from the Chanchiki poster

Image from the Chanchiki poster

Location: Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre (map)
1st Performance: Saturday, December 16 from 6:00 p.m.
2nd Performance: Sunday, December 17 from 2:00 p.m.
Tickets: Start at ¥4,000 for adults and ¥2,500 for under 25. Buy directly at the ticket counter from 10:00 a.m–6:00 p.m.

Matsumoto Sunday Market

Enjoy good music, food, wine, beer, dance, crafts, workshops for kids and more!

Date: Sunday, December 17
Time: 10:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Location: Matsumoto Sunday Market, 5 min from the station (Map)
Event on Facebook

Night Museum at the Matsumoto Museum of Art

The museum will open for extended nighttime hours one day each month during December, February, and March. For the December night museum day, they will hold a special gallery talk about the artwork in the permanent exhibits (see more info about other dates here). See general information about the museum here.

Outside area of the art museum

Outside area of the art museum


Date: Friday, December 22
Time: 5:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. (also open for regular hours from 9 to 5)
Location: Matsumoto Museum of Art (Map)

Susuharai (Soot Sweeping)

This is a customary end-of-the-year cleaning ritual which is meant to purify the soot that has gathered over the year and prevent ill fortune from entering the castle for the next year. Read more information here.

Staff sweeping the soot off the castle tower

Staff sweeping the soot off the castle tower


Date: Thursday, December 28
Time: 9:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Location: Matsumoto Castle’s Kuro-mon (Black gate), the castle tower entrance, and Taiko-mon (Drum gate)
Admission: Adults ¥610, Children ¥300 (includes entrance into the castle tower and Matsumoto City Museum just outside the castle)

The Japan Alps Turn White With Snow

Last month, the Japan Alps got its first coat of snow. During the last couple of weeks, the snow has been gradually creeping down the mountains.

The mountains in the morning, after the sun has risen completely

The mountains in the morning, after the sun has risen completely

Because the air during the wintertime is much clearer than in the summer, you’ll get one of the best views of the mountains during this season. As for the best time of day, I’d say the Japan Alps are their prettiest in the early morning, as the sunrise often casts a beautiful pink glow across the mountains. If you’re staying overnight in Matsumoto during the fall or winter, I highly recommend setting your alarm clock for just before the sunrise so you can catch a glimpse of this gorgeous view!

The Japan Alps just before the sun rises

The Japan Alps just before the sun rises

The sunset can offer just as much of a breathtaking view, as well. The mountains themselves will appear as dark silhouettes, but on certain days when the weather is just right, the sky will turn brilliant orange, pink, and purple hues.

An especially beautifully sunset in Matsumoto

An especially beautifully sunset in Matsumoto

But really, anytime of day when the sky is clear, you’re still going to have an amazing view!

DSCF4838

Falcons Impress at the Traditional Falconry Show at Matsumoto Castle

Last weekend, Matsumoto Castle held its first ever falconry event!

IMG_2687

Historically, during the Edo Period in Matsumoto, there were samurai who served as falconers under the feudal lord of Matsumoto Castle. This event was a demonstration of these traditions.

In the old castle town of Matsumoto, there was an area called Takajomachi(鷹匠町) named after the falconers, or “Takajo” in Japanese, that lived there. There was also another area called Esashimachi(餌差町) where the small birds that were used to feed the falcons were raised (in Japanese, “e” means feed or bait and here “sashi” refers to the person giving the food).

The falconry show was performed by the Suwa Falconry Preservation Society (see Japanese website here). Apparently members of this society go through a tiered qualification process in order to become falconers! The three types of birds of prey trained by falconers are the Harris Hawk, Norther Goshawk, and the Japanese Buzzard.

The show started off by the falconers walking the falcons slowly around the performance area, so the birds could adjust to their surroundings.
DSC_0701-640x440

Next, the falcons flew between two people and then returned. They flew quite low! Falconers do not only train the falcons to use themselves, but the birds were trained in a way that anyone could use them, for example, in the past, the feudal lord himself.
falconry

falconry3

falconry4

falconry5

So since anyone can technically have the falcon to do what it was trained to do, some people in the audience got to try it out themselves (including the mayor of Matsumoto!).

falconry6 falconry7

The next part of the show demonstrated how the falcons could strike other birds out of the sky: live pigeons were released and the falcons caught them with their talons right in mid-flight!

falconry8 falconry9

The last part of the event was all about letting the audience take photos of the falcons and their trainers. Let’s hope this event happens again next year!

DSC_0761-300x199 DSC_0764-300x199

DSC_0778-211x300

This blog post is based off of the Falconry Show article on the Japanese website. Please check it out here if you are interested!

Former Kaichi School: Go Back to School a Century and Half in the Past

View of the Former Kaichi School from outside

View of the Former Kaichi School from outside

The Former Kaichi School was built back in the late 1800s—almost 150 years ago. When I first visited the Former Kaichi School back in the summer, I was struck by its peculiar architecture. At first glance it looked like a beautiful European building, but as I walked closer and started looking at the details, I found hints of Japanese-ness that had snuck into the design: Carved dragons along with the flying cherubs above the entrance, chandeliers hanging over bamboo flooring, and other such opposing style quirks.

Who know that cherubs and dragons got along so well?

Who know that cherubs and dragons got along so well?

Going inside was almost like going back to school a century and a half in the past. One of the classrooms was preserved as it was when the school was still in commission, complete with tiny wooden desks, black board, and teacher’s podium. The best part was that you could actually sit in the desks (if your legs fits…) and play around with everything in the room! Getting to walk through the same halls and climb the same wooden stairs as the little students did in the past also adds to the atmosphere.

Kaichi School

Former Kaichi School

Most the other rooms in the school were filled with displays of old building plans, learning materials like text books, and other school-related artifacts like writing tools and even dumbbells used for fitness. Also, the former principal’s office and a special room for the Meiji emperor were open for viewing, too.

Wooden dumbbells! I wonder how heavy they are. Notice the diagrams of exercises in the book to the left.

Wooden dumbbells! I wonder how heavy they are. Notice the diagrams of exercises in the book to the left.

Book for kids to learn katakana characters

Book for kids to learn katakana characters

Textbook with flags of the world.

Textbook with flags of the world.

My favorite artifacts were the picture textbooks for primary school kids, old toys and, check these out, old baseball cards!

Old baseball cards ! Check out the interesting shape.

Old baseball cards ! Check out the interesting shape.

Perhaps a book for learning how to count? I remember using something like this in my primary school (minus the silk worms and bamboo shoots...)

Perhaps a book for learning how to count? I remember using something like this in my primary school (minus the silk worms and bamboo shoots…)

It was also nice to see some of the cool dragon carvings and other pieces from the building design, like the “East, West, North, South” direction markers for the tower’s compass piece.

Carving with a dragon and  a wave.

Carving with a dragon and a wave.

"East, west, north, south" markers in Japanese for the school's tower.

“East, west, north, south” markers in Japanese for the school’s tower.

Overall, the Former Kaichi School was a short, but worthwhile stop. The school is beautiful and a lot of the artifacts are fun to see. Plus, it’s only a few minutes from Matsumoto Castle. My only complaint was that there aren’t enough English explanations for the interesting things on display!

For more info, check out the main page on the Former Kaichi School here.

Okinado: Old-fashioned “Western Food” from the Heyday of the Showa Period

There are tons of the so-called “western-style,” or yoshoku, (洋食) restaurants in Japan. I always find this name a little troublesome because while yes, they certainly don’t serve your typical Japanese food, I think a more appropriate description would be something along the lines of “Japanese-style western fusion.” In fact, some dishes are actually Japanese inventions inspired by the west.

Typical dishes you might find at yoshoku restaurants are curry and rice (was curry even Western to begin with??), hayashi rice (tender chunks of beef in a thick, demi-glace-ish sauce over rice), omurice (tomato-y fried rice wrapped up in a super thin egg shell), and hambaagu (basically a delicious, Japanese version of Salisbury steak).

That being said, even though yoshoku technically translates to “western food,” it still offers you an authentic Japanese experience—one that dates back to the Meiji Restoration (late 1800s).

In Matsumoto, one of the best places to get your fix of yoshoku is a restaurant called Okinado. While not quite as old as the Meiji Restoration, Okinado has been around for a long time: it opened its doors in 1933 at the beginning of the Showa Period, first as a coffee house and then later adding a full menu of “western-style” food in 1957 that included curry rice, hayashi rice, sauteed pork, and other items. It is family owned and is now with its third generation owner.

Entrance to Okinado, complete with plastic food display

Entrance to Okinado, complete with plastic food display

Today, Okinado still serves many of their original dishes and compared to some other yoshoku restaurants, I’d say their menu items tend to be more “fancy,” if you will. For example, they boast fresh, locally sourced ingredients and their hayashi rice sauce is apparently cooked down for an entire week!

A few days ago, I went with a couple of friends so we got to share and try a few of Okinado’s most popular dishes: the napolitan pasta (a spaghetti-esque dish with a ketchup-y/tomato-y sauce and stir-fried vegetables), omurice, and hayashi rice.

Out of the three dishes, the omurice was my favorite. The thin egg shell was perfectly wrapped around the nicely flavored rice, plus it had a portion of their special hayashi sauce on top along with another kind of white sauce. The hayashi rice was pretty good too, though the sauce had quite a strong flavor that reminded me of coffee (they may actually use coffee when cooking it). You could tell the sauce had been cooked for hours and the beef was super tender.

The napolitan pasta, on the other hand, was a little disappointing, as it seemed like the spaghetti noodles were just mixed with stir-fried vegetables, pork, and a bit of tomato-ish sauce (nothing like spaghetti sauce though). Not that it didn’t taste good, but I was looking for something a little more unique.

Omurice

Omurice

Pouring the chunky hayashi sauce over hot rice

Pouring the chunky hayashi sauce over hot rice

Napolitan pasta packed with veggies

Napolitan pasta packed with veggies

Other dishes that looked good (on other people’s tables) were the hambaagu/hamburger steak and fried pork dishes (katsu), though they are more on the expensive side. There are also combo plates that let you try two or three different dishes on one plate. I didn’t get to to try any this time, but the desserts looked very enticing too, especially the custard pudding!

More than the food, I loved Okinado’s atmosphere—still housed in its original building, it looks as if it were stuck back in time in the heyday of the Showa Period. Old-fashioned decor, manager in suit vest and bow-tie, vintage diner seats, heavy ceramic lights above the tables…it really gives you a good sense of what Japan might have been like when it was in love with all-things-western. Plus there is a great view of Nawate Street and Yohashira Shrine from the big windows!

Inside the restaurant on the first floor

Inside the restaurant on the first floor

Spiffy ceramic lights hanging about the tables

Spiffy ceramic lights hanging about the tables

Okinado is located in Nakamachi, which is a 10-minute walk from either Matsumoto Castle or Matsumoto Station. It’s on the corner across the bridge from Yohashira Shrine. Budget-wise, it will cost you 1,000–1,500 yen for most meals, though the meat-heavy dishes are closer to 2,000 yen. You can go for both lunch or dinner.

Hours:
Weekdays & Saturdays: 9 am—3 pm, 5:30 pm—8:30 pm (L.O. 8 pm)
Sundays & Holidays: 9 am—6:30 pm (L.O. 6 pm)
(Google Map)

By the way, you can check out more photos on Okinado’s website. It’s in Japanese, but the photos explain themselves :)

Outdoor menu with 3 recommended items for the day: Volga Rice (omurice topped with fried chicken and hayashi sauce), Omurice (rice-stuffed omelette), and Napolitan pasta

Outdoor menu with 3 recommended items for the day: Volga Rice (omurice topped with fried chicken and hayashi sauce), Omurice (rice-stuffed omelette), and Napolitan pasta

A Day of Samurai, Kendo, Taiko, and More at the Matsumoto Castle Festival

Every November on Culture Day, Matsumoto City puts on a huge city-wide festival that features all kinds of Japanese cultural goodies ranging from taiko drum performances to martial arts competitions, to the main event: the samurai parade around downtown!

Crowd and samurai parade participants gathered at Matsumoto Castle for the official festival kick-off ceremony

Crowd and samurai parade participants gathered at Matsumoto Castle for the official festival kick-off ceremony

The samurai parade starts off in Matsumoto Castle’s inner garden, where over one hundred people a dressed in the traditional wear of samurai, soldiers, court officials, and there’s even a princess. A taiko drum performance (video below!) and a speech by Matsumoto’s mayor officially kicks off the festivities before the parade procession marches out into the streets.

The samurai procession gathering at Matsumoto Castle before heading out

The samurai procession gathering at Matsumoto Castle before heading out

Taiko performance in the castle garden

Taiko performance in the castle garden

One of the most popular members of the samurai procession ;)

One of the most popular members of the samurai procession 😉

Besides the samurai parade and taiko, there were numerous other street performances that included not only traditional culture but also contemporary culture like street dancing and magic shows. I was lucky to run into this dance group in the photo below who performed a traditional women’s dance in beautiful blue kimono:

Traditional dance with autumn leaves

Traditional dance with autumn leaves

One of my personal favorites out of the festival events was the Kendo and Naginata Competition. It took place right in the castle garden, so you could get up close and watch the dueling, hakama-clad contestants show off their swordsmanship and naginata (aka polearm) skills.

Dueling kendo contestants

Dueling kendo contestants

En Garde!

En Garde!

There are so many events going on during this festival that it was hard to see them all (there’s also a big tea ceremony, Japanese archery competition, etc.), but if you missed something this year, you’ll always have another chance next year on November 3rd! It’s also a great time to plan a trip to Matsumoto because the autumn leaves are out in full color as well 😉

For more event info, see the event page or follow us on Facebook (we also have a Facebook event listing).

Catching the End of Fall in Norikura Highlands

After almost every October weekend was thwarted by typhoons and rainy weather during what is supposed to be the best season to see the fall colors in Norikura, I finally made it on the last week of the month! Though the leaves up in the highlands are pretty much brown by now, I can at least share the photos :)

Wonderful view of Norikura from one of the ponds in the Ichinose area

Wonderful view of Norikura from one of the ponds in the Ichinose area

The weather still turned out to be cloudy and drizzly, but the mountains of Norikura did not fail to impress. I decided to go to the Ichinose area since it’s one of the most famous spots to see the fall leaves. There are several laid-back walking trails where not only did I get to see amazing colors, but I also found several natural ponds and marshes, saw the beautifully white-patterned bark of the birch trees, and got a panoramic view of a now-snowy Mt. Norikuradake. If I had made it to Ichinose about one week earlier, I could’ve seen the famous fire-red maple tree as well, but the typhoon winds had swept most of its leaves off (though admittedly they were still pretty on the ground).

One of the pretty ponds in the Ichinose area

One of the pretty ponds in the Ichinose area

The famous fire-red leaves of Ichinose's giant maple tree making a brilliant carpet on the ground.

The famous fire-red leaves of Ichinose’s giant maple tree making a brilliant carpet on the ground.

White-barked birches

White-barked birches

Colorful fall leaves with the snowy peaks of Mt. Norikuradake in the background

Colorful fall leaves with the snowy peaks of Mt. Norikuradake in the background

Next stop was the short trail that goes between Sengenbuchi Falls and Bandokoro Waterfall. This trail is a wooded path through the forest along a rocky stream, so instead of seeing broad views of the colorful trees across the mountainsides, here I got to see autumn from the within the canopy: pretty fallen leaves crunching under my boots with the brilliant colors of fall directly above. The fun parts about this trail are the suspended bridges that cross over the stream and the roaring waterfalls you encounter along the way. Just one little tip: be careful walking on the bridges because they get slippery when wet (I almost wiped out crossing the bridge in the photo below, but caught myself on the ropes!).

Bridge along the forest trail near Sengenbuchi Falls

Bridge along the forest trail near Sengenbuchi Falls

Brilliantly colored leaves from underneath the trees

Brilliantly colored leaves from underneath the trees

Sengenbuchi Falls <3

Sengenbuchi Falls

Again, for this year, the leaves are pretty brown or gone by now in Norikura, but just in case, here is the access info in case you’re looking at this at a later time.

Access Info:

To get to the Ichinose area, take the Norikura Highlands bus to the Norikura Visitors Center (map) and walk from there, or if you have a car, there are also several places to park within the Ichinose area itself (for example here).

For the Sengenbuchi Falls trail, take the Norikura Highlands bus to the Path to Otaki (Falls) bus stop, or if you have a car, you can park at the Otaki Falls parking lot (map) or at the JA building (map) further up the road (which is nearer to Sengenbuchi Falls).

P.S. For more info on the waterfalls of Norikura including a map of locations, check out this blog article.

Mini Quartet Concert at the Kurassic-kan on Nov. 11

As the 4th event in the Kurassic-kan’s “Kura no Yube” series, a few members of the Shinshu University Orchestra will be putting on a mini quartet concert! One week before, the orchestra will be playing a big concert at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, so this mini performance allows those in Matsumoto to get a little taste of the live music too 😉

If you’re a classical music fan, the cost is only 500 yen, so don’t miss out!

Event Details

Place: Kurassic-kan on Nakamachi Street (map)
Date: Nov. 11, 2017
Time: 5:30 p.m.–6:45 p.m.
Admission: 500 yen

(P.S. you can also bookmark the event on our Facebook page)

Japanese event poster for the Kura-no-Yube mini concert

Japanese event poster for the Kura-no-Yube mini concert

Autumn Leaves around Matsumoto City

Last time I wrote about the fall leaves at Matsumoto Castle, but there are plenty of other places you can enjoy autumn around the city right now! Some of the best spots to go are shrines and temples, where you’re almost guaranteed to find trees that turn brilliant colors in the fall, not to mention the beauty of the autumn leaves in combination with traditional Japanese architecture. Two recommended spots are Yohashira Shrine (map) on the way to the castle/along Nawate street and Fukashi Shrine (map) near the Matsumoto Museum of Art.

The torii gate of Fukashi Shrine

The torii gate of Fukashi Shrine

Fukashi Shrine

Fukashi Shrine

Walking into Yohashira Shrine

Walking into Yohashira Shrine

Trees at Yohashira Shrine

Trees at Yohashira Shrine

The main building of Yohashira Shrine behind the trees

The main building of Yohashira Shrine behind the trees

Another great spot is Agatanomori Park, where you can take a long stroll around the park grounds and sit and relax in the gazebo at the pond while enjoying the fall trees. You can even spot some cute turtles warming themselves in the pond’s rocks and catch a glimpse of the mountains of Utsukushigahara rising in the background. The park is just a 10 minute walk from the art museum. (see Google map)

Turtles and pretty trees :)

Turtles and pretty trees :)

A brilliant yellow tree by the old school

A brilliant yellow tree by the old school

Gazebo at Agatanomori Park

Gazebo at Agatanomori Park

Enjoy the fall colors while they last—soon the scenery might just be covered in snow 😉


Recent Comments