The Official Tourism Site of Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan
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Party Event by Shinshu University International Students

I was invited to an international party the week before last. The party was held near Shinshu University by international students from the university. They were from Malaysia, Mexico, Chinese. Surprisingly, they spoke not only Japanese, but also English. A Chinese Malaysian lady there spoke four languages which were Malay, Chinese, English and Japanese. She said that she was raised in that kind of surroundings. I guess she must have had a hard time to get over difficulties playing with four languages as a child.
I envy her because I am struggling to learn English now. Malaysians there cooked food (see the photo) for us. They were steamed chicken, rice cooked with ginger and chicken, chicken and seafood stir-fried with Okura and oyster sauce and some vegetables. My favorite dish was the rice cooked with ginger and chicken. It’s better to pour some chicken soup on the rice before you eat. The dishes remained me of stalls in Asian countries. It was a pity that they didn’t understand my English…

“International Cafe” event

I participated in an event called “International Cafe” with my friend. The organizers are Christians, but their purpose of the activity isn’t missionary work. Because personal relationships and connections are important to them, they open the cafe temporarily and invite people to the cafe. They believe that meaningful contact between people, Japanese and foreign, is valuable. For instance, they say that our bodies are vehicles, like cars, and that our real inner person is like the driver of the car. Even though you have a car crash and your car has broken, you may be OK, and your spirit is still alive. In other words, the real you inside is more important than the outer body.
They are pretty friendly and most of them speak English and Japanese fluently. Unfortunately, when I visited them, not so many visitors came. I brought a new friend there and she was interested in the event. This is a good thing. I hope I can see many people and communicate with them next time.

Hida Takayama

My friends and I visited Hida Takayama, which is the neighboring city of Matsumoto and popular sightseeing place for foreigners. There are four buses from Matsumoto to Takayama every day. It took two hours and twenty minutes to Takayama. The mountain roads were very windy and quite snaky, which made me feel sick, but I was impressed because the roads people made exist in such high mountains.
When we got to Takayama, the town was crawling with tourists. The most interesting spot for me was the traditional private houses. The houses didn’t fail to meet my expectations. There were also throngs of people in the street near the houses. They sell lovely items and I bought a bag made with kimono cloth.

Takayama is well-known for good beef. It was tasty. Croquettes which have some beef inside are also popular. The most beautiful one among the traditional private houses was a Japanese restaurant which offers Hida beef with soy bean paste in a course meal.
We visit the Jinja-mae Morning Markets, where I saw unique handmade dolls called sarubobo, 100% apple juice, ornaments made with many red peppers, among other things.
Then we walked to the Takayama Festival Exhibition Hall. The floats at the Festival Float Exhibition Hall are used twice a year to celebrate Takayama Festival. One of the festivals for the Takayama Festival in spring which is the cherry blossom season. The other time is in autumn which is fall foliage season. There are 23 carriages called yatai decorated for Takayama Festival. The streets are lined with the carriages and the carriages parade the streets in the festival. The Hall exhibits four carriages in rotation because they would like to show the carriages all year ’round.
People in the old days had no amusement, so the Takayama festival must have given them great pleasure. I was moved because the festival still exists and attracts many people living in Takayama and also tourists from other prefectures. The Hall made me excited about the festival. I can imagine how beautiful it is. I would like to visit Takayama to the festival next time.

Guide at Matsumoto Castle

I am a English volunteer guide at Matsumoto Castle. I have given about 25 group tours and I still stay in touch with one person from one of the tours. She is an Australian lady who has a mature son and daughter. She came to Japan with her husband to see their daughter who lived in Ishikawa Prefecture on working holiday. On the way back to their home, they visited Matsumoto.
Guiding at the castle is very hard. We need to read a long text, remember it, and say it to guests without looking at it. Besides that, we have to study history. Once her husband said to me laughing “I’ll ask you a very difficult question. Can you answer the question?” He was very funny.
To get to the top of the castle, we have to climb extremely steep steps. Though guiding at the castle is hard, it is quite interesting. We can communicate with people from abroad and we can get information about the world. In addition, we can keep contact with them by email after they leave Japan. The biggest pleasure is to give them a tour for free and they say “thank you” to us.
She let me know that the whaling issue in Japan is a very serious matter in Australia, but I think most Japanese don’t know it’s a significant issue all over the world. We felt awkward for a while, because she is a vegetarian and hates the idea of killing whales. It didn’t affect our friendship and we could get over the awkwardness. We are still good friends!

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