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Japan Alps Kamikochi – A Serene Summer’s Day in the National Park


Whether you’re an avid hiker or just looking to take in the world-famous scenery on a stroll at the base of the mountains, Kamikochi is an unforgettable outdoor experience. Even on a hot summer’s day, like the one I visited on, I was treated to a cool breeze, icy-cold water, and plenty of shade on well-maintained paths. Unless you hire a guide, you cannot access the park in the winter, but spring, summer, and fall give you a unique landscape depending on when you visit. The green season offers a barrage of colors including vibrant greens and other colors from the various foliage and sediment.



Taisho Pond

Even before entering the heart of the park, you are treated to a expansive reflection of the mountains on Taisho Pond.


Shimizu River


Some of the clearest water you’ve ever seen.

In order to preserve the environment of the park, there are strict regulations including not allowing cars into the area. The regulations, higher altitude, and natural springs make for fresh air and stunningly clear water.


Kappa Bashi (Kappa Bridge)

The view of the Kappa Bridge overlaid on Mt. Hotaka is one of the most famous images of the park. Crossing the suspension bridge, you can gaze out over the pristine water of the Azusa River.





This century-old mountain hut now serves as a restaurant as well lodgings and makes for a great place to rest before visiting the nearby Hotaka Shrine and Myojin Pond. Try a classic summer dish, grilled ayu.


Raised in the nearby river, this sweet-fish is fresh and juicy. Grilled over an open fire, the salted skin makes for a delicate crust while the meat is kept moist. You can eat the entire fish from head to tail!

Replenish your salt levels after your trek!

If eating fish heads isn’t your thing, not to worry, there is other food such as soba (buckwheat noodles) and cake available for you to enjoy.

Myojin Pond



This area is said to be sacred to the gods and thus known as a place where the gods come down.

Myojin Pond has two areas: Ichino Pond and Nino Pond. The Hotaka Shrine sits just in front of Ichino Pond.

Although you cannot ride in them, two boats float on the pond and are used during a local festival.


Hotaka Shrine

Ichino Pond

Ichino Pond

Nino Pond

Nino Pond

Tashiro Pond and Wetlands


Although it has been steadily filled in by natural decay and sediment buildup, water still flows through this area, creating a stark contrast between the orange sand and the surrounding greenery.


Mt. Yakedake


Signs of the eruption that occurred 100 years ago still remain.

Mt. Yakedake is still an active volcano. It’s activity is constantly monitored and the current level is level 1.

Access and Accommodations

Details on how to get to the park and more information such as hotel and campsite information are available on the official English website here.

Germany – Japan Baking Exchange in Norikura

Last weekend in Norikura, I got to participate in a fun cultural exchange event hosted by the Norikura Highlands Tourism Association and a German-style bakery, Brot Hügel, in Matsumoto. For a 2 day event, two master German bakers from Saxony, Torsten Eckert and Erik Wunderlich, were invited to Matsumoto to share one of Germany’s most celebrated cultural traditions – baking!

21231159_1673091Germany - Japan Bread Exchange

The first day consisted of a welcome party with a taiko drum performance by the Norikura elementary school taiko club, locally brewed rye beer, German bread, sausages, and regional dishes, and a speech by the German guests.

The Norikura elementary school taiko club

The Norikura elementary school taiko club

The German and Japanese Bakers

The German and Japanese Bakers

Mountains of pretzels!

Mountains of pretzels!

On the second day, the bakers taught a special baking (and cooking) course. We made different kinds of bread made with sourdough rye dough (baked in a wood-burning oven!), eclairs, creme puffs, a beautiful buttercream cake, and a potato salad and radish salad from Saxony. Because truly authentic German bread and food is a rarity in Japan, it was a unique opportunity for all of to get a taste of the real thing and see how it’s actually made.

Participants eagerly watching the bakers demonstrate how to make the bread dough

Participants eagerly watching the bakers demonstrate how to make the bread dough

Preparing the bread dough

Preparing the bread dough

Squeezing out dough for creme puffs

Squeezing out dough for creme puffs

Eclairs and creme puff shells baking in the wood-burning oven

Eclairs and creme puff shells baking in the wood-burning oven

The finished cake!

The finished cake!

The whole Germany – Japan Baking Exchange got started when the baker from Brot Hügel connected with the German bakers on Facebook. After building their friendship online, Brot Hügel traveled to Saxony last year to teach about some quintessentially Japanese breads like melon pan (a sweet roll with a cookie-based crust), anpan (roll filled with sweet red bean paste), and creme pan (roll filled with custard cream). As a continuation of the cultural exchange, the German bakers were then invited to Matsumoto this year. The bakers are eager to continue their friendship and offer more cultural exchange in both Saxony and Matsumoto, so let’s hope we see more events like this in the future!

Finished rye bread!

Finished rye bread!

In the meantime, if you’re interested in German bread, beer, or food, there are a couple of options right here in Matsumoto!

German-style bakeries:

Food & Beer:

  • Sonnenblume – serves various German-inspired dishes and has a huge selection of imported German beers (Location on map | Website – Japanese | facebook)
  • Baden-Baden – Specializes in homemade sausages and offers a selection of beer (including German ones) (Location on Map | Website – Japanese)
  • Matsumoto Brewery – Matsumoto’s craft beer brewery and bar (Location on Map | Facebook)
  • Ishii Miso Brewery with Tour, Lunch, and Miso Ice Cream!

    I recently found out about the Ishii Miso Brewery located right in central Matsumoto so I wasted no time in going to check out – especially because they offer free tours, a special lunch with miso-inspired dishes, and miso soft-serve ice cream!

    Ishii Miso was founded in 1868 and what makes it so special is that it is a now rare example of miso maker that still uses traditional methods to produce their miso. I took advantage of the short tour they offer so I could learn more about the process of making miso and Ishii Miso itself. The tour is free, can be done in both English or Japanese, lasts about 10-12 minutes, and once you’re done you can brag to all your friends about your expert miso knowledge, so I definitely wouldn’t skip it!

    ishii miso

    Part of the miso brewery

    The tour starts in the “first year miso room” where you are greeted by huge, wooden fermentation barrels. These barrels are all around 100 years old and contain 4.5 metric tons (almost 5 US tons) of fermenting miso! Most miso makers now use stainless steel containers to ferment miso, but wooden barrels are much better because the wood allows aeration and the beneficial bacteria – yeast and lactic acid bacteria – can actually establish themselves in the sides of the barrels, helping to improve the flavor and protect against unwanted bacteria.

    miso barrels

    The year-one miso barrels

    At Ishii Miso, perhaps their most prized product is their three year fermented miso. I was really surprised to learn that the not only is each 4.5 ton batch of miso transferred to another barrel at the end of each year, but they also “flip” the miso (a process called tenchi-gaeshi 天地返し
    in Japanese) once per year as well to aerate it in order to help the beneficial bacteria do their fermentation work as well as to help even out the flavors. The transferring and flipping is done by hand (with a shovel!), and according to tour guide, takes a whole day to complete for one barrel. Ishii Miso also makes a one year fermented miso, which also undergoes the flipping process one time during the year.

    Ishii Miso worker in a barrel

    One of the works transferring the miso to another barrel

    Unfortunately, less than 10% of the miso made in Japan is still made using traditional methods. Most miso is mass-produced in a factory using additives and heat to speed up fermentation so that a batch can be finished in 2-3 months. But, this fast-miso doesn’t have enough time to build up the complex flavors that you would get through natural, slow fermentation, so more additives and chemicals are added to attempt to make up for the loss of flavor. After trying Ishii’s miso or other traditionally made miso, you’ll definitely notice the difference whenever you eat miso made with mass-produced miso.

    Big pots of miso soup and tonjiru soup

    Big pots of miso soup and tonjiru soup

    On the tour, you’ll also learn other interesting facts about miso making in Japan like the regional differences due to the kind of koji (a kind of malted grain made with a beneficial fungus) used kome koji(rice malt), mugi koji (barley malt), or mame koji (soy bean malt) – and why miso gets gradually turns a darker brown color the longer it ferments (hint: it involves the increase of a compound called melanoidin produced through the Maillard reaction – the same reaction responsible for browning meats, bread crust, and coffee).

    After the tour, check out the Ishii Miso Shop to taste their miso pastes, miso pickles, and other miso products. Of course, you can buy your favorite products to take home with you. I definitely recommend eating the special miso-inspired lunch, too! It includes a big bowl of tonjiru (miso soup with vegetables and pork), miso-grilled rice ball, rice ball with seasonal miso sauces like wasabi miso, miso pickles, salad with miso dressing, and a little miso ice cream. I’m also a big fan of the miso soft-serve ice cream, which is made with Ishii’s three year miso, so I’d recommend giving it a try too!

    If you plan on having lunch, be careful about the time. Lunch is only available from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, but you can get soft-serve ice cream and buy things in the shop anytime between their opening hours of 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

    See access info, hours and more on our Ishii Miso page here.

    Miso rice balls

    Miso-grilled rice ball and rice ball with different miso pastes

    Tonjiru - hearty miso soup with veggies and pork

    Tonjiru – hearty miso soup with veggies and pork

    Miso soft-serve ice cream with 3-year miso

    Miso soft-serve ice cream with 3-year miso

    Entrance to the cafe and shop

    Entrance to the cafe and shop

    Matsumoto Summer Fest 2017 – Beer Garden and Live Performances

    Matsumoto Summer Fest 2017 is under way! Come out and enjoy a wide selection of food and drinks in the summer air. You’ll find a variety of German and local beers, wine, and dishes which include German sausage, Korean Samgyeopsal-gui, ramen with lobster, chicken tacos, pizza, Indian curry, steak, and more from numerous local restaurants and vendors! There are nearly 30 stalls all with multiple dishes or drinks. Live performances are also taking place on stage, making for a very festive atmosphere.


    I made it just before last order, so I only had time to try assorted sausage, kimbap, and a chicken taco accompanied by Kölsch beer (pictured above), but it was all delicious! I highly recommend going with friends and/or family so that you can share the dishes!

    WHEN: August 17 (Thurs.) – August 28 (Mon.)
    Weekdays: 5PM – 9PM (Order stop 8:45PM); Sat/Sun: 11AM – 9PM (Order stop 8:45PM)

    WHERE: Hanadokei (flower clock) Park 花時計公園 (South side of the Matsumoto PARCO department store)
    A six minute walk from Matsumoto Station.
    *Seating with tents is available in case it rains.*

    COST: Prices on beers range from around ¥600 to ¥1,200 and food items (both single-serving and sharing sizes) start at around ¥400. Coupons that can be used at participating shops and other local businesses are also available in the free Matsumoto Guide Book, and they are valid through November!
    Glass system: In order to cover the cost of the glass in the event that it is not returned, a ¥1,000 deposit is required with the purchase of beer. The deposit will be returned to you when you turn in your glass.


    Official website and Facebook page (Japanese only).

    Great Places to Get Ice Cream in Matsumoto

    Wow, it is HOT in Matsumoto. Luckily, there are plenty of places to get ice cream downtown! I’ve been researching as many ice cream shops as possible for the past several weeks around downtown/central Matsumoto. This list contains the best places I’ve found so far, that is, not just any average, old cone that you can buy anywhere, but ice cream that has a unique, Japanese twist or just really tastes good. I’m sure I’m probably missing some places, so if you know any other good ice cream in Matsumoto, let me know!

    Nakamachi Street

    Oimo Biyori (おいも日和) – Chunky Roasted Sweet Potato Ice Cream

    Oimo Biyori is a shop that specializes in sweets and snacks made from Japanese sweet potatoes, including simple roasted sweet potatoes. If you’ve never had a roasted Japanese sweet potato, it’s basically like eating a soft, melty, creamy, golden, and toasty mouthful of deliciousness. In what I think might be the most genius idea ever, Oimo Biyori decided to mix chunks of these creamy and delicious sweet potatoes into vanilla ice cream and top it with nuts! It was so good that I didn’t want to go to any other ice cream shop for a couple of weeks. Recently, they also started selling three different flavors of Japanese shaved ice as seasonal menu. Oimo Biyori is located on Nakamachi Street (map).

    Sweet potato ice cream. It's hard to see, but there are chunks of creamy roasted sweet potato mixed in. Deliciousness!

    Sweet potato ice cream. It’s hard to see, but there are chunks of creamy roasted sweet potato mixed in. Deliciousness!

    Storefront of Oimo Biyori

    Storefront of Oimo Biyori

    Cafe Senri – Royal Sweet Vanilla Soft-serve

    This cafe (facebook page, japanese) is located near Oimo Biyori on Nakamachi Street (Map). They serve “Royal Sweet Vanilla” soft-serve, originally served at the Minoriya cafe in Karuizawa. The soft serve is so good that it’s apparently been praised by several celebrities including John Lennon! It’s a little more expensive than the other places, but it really is good – silky, high quality ice cream with a nice vanilla flavor, yet not overly sweet. Plus, they serve it in a waffle cone! You can get plain or make a super deluxe ice cream using the many toppings available like real fruit syrups, cookies, and more.

    Silky, delicious, and in a waffle cone!

    Silky, delicious, and in a waffle cone!

    Storefront of Cafe SenRi

    Storefront of Cafe Senri

    Nakamachi Kura Marche – Gelato Made with Local Ingredients

    This shop sells produce and other goodies made in the local area, and for the summer they have a little gelato stand set up where you can get gelato that has been made with local fruits, vegetables, or eggs. They have some really unique flavors so worth checking out. This time their flavors were sweet corn, blueberries & milk, watermelon, edamame, vanilla (with local eggs), Nagano miso caramel (think salt caramel, but with miso). Bonus: they use chocolate cones! Located on the east end of Nakamachi Street (map)

    Watermelon and corn gelato in a chocolate cone

    Watermelon and corn gelato in a chocolate cone

    Shopfront of Nakamachi Kura Marche

    Shopfront of Nakamachi Kura Marche

    Around the Station

    Shinshu Honey (信州蜂蜜本舗) – Honey Soft-serve Ice Cream

    Shinshu Honey, right across from the Parco department store (map), sells different varieties of local honey from Nagano. They also use the local honey to make their excellent honey soft-serve ice cream! Of all of the ice cream in this blog post, this soft-serve is the silkiest of them all. Eaten plain, it has a subtle, but nice honey flavor and the ice cream itself feels light and isn’t overly sweet. Of course, it’s great plain, but you can also choose from four different kinds of local honey as a topping, too, which I recommend trying.

    Drizzling honey over the ice cream - yum!

    Drizzling honey over the ice cream – yum!

    The finished cone (already starting to melt because it's so hot...)

    The finished cone (already starting to melt because it’s so hot…)

    Storefront of Shinshu Honey

    Storefront of Shinshu Honey

    Kaiundo (開運堂) – Robot Ice Cream

    Also near Parco in Japanese sweets shop called Kaiundo (map), you can get soft-serve made and served to you by a robot (oh Japan…). The ice cream itself is basically the kind of general (and quite sweet) soft-serve that you’ll find at most ice cream vendors in Japan, but I have to admit, it’s pretty fun watching the robot arm swirl the soft-serve into the cone and then hand it to you through a little window! The other cool thing about Kaiundo is that they change the flavor of their ice cream every single day, so you can try some unique and rare flavors (when I went it was milk coffee, and the next day it had changed to blueberry). You can choose from a regular (regular cone) and large size (waffle cone) which are mysteriously the same price. I unfortunately didn’t get any photos of this place yet, but it might be fun to check out, especially with kids 😉

    Kuraso (倉惣) – Matcha Green Tea Soft-serve

    Matcha ice cream is probably one of Japan’s greatest inventions, and if you’re on the look out for some of the best matcha ice cream, then what better place get it than an authentic Japanese teashop! Kuraso, which has been open since 1945, is a specialty shop selling Japanese green tea, tea pots, and matcha. Thankfully for us ice cream lovers, not too long ago they also decided to start serving matcha ice cream, and I must say, it is delicious! I think what makes it so good is that, first and foremost, the base ice cream itself tastes super good on its own, but also because Kuraso actually uses their own matcha powder to make the matcha green tea flavor! You can choose from matcha, milk, or mixed soft-serve flavors. If you’ve had your fill of matcha ice cream already, I also highly recommend the toppings – hojicha (roasted green tea) and genmaicha (toasted rice green tea) –  which are sprinkled over the milk flavored ice cream. You can also get sweet red beans on top of your cone too! Bonus: if you eat inside of the shop, you’ll get a complimentary cup of the shop’s green tea (iced green tea in the summer). Kuraso is located only 5 minutes from Matsumoto Station on the main road (map), just keep an eye out for the big, green ice cream cone standing in front of the shop 😉

    Matcha ice cream (right) and milk ice cream with genmaicha topping (left)

    Matcha ice cream (right) and milk ice cream with genmaicha topping (left)

    Storefront of Kuraso

    Storefront of Kuraso

    Near (and near-ish) Matsumoto Castle

    The Storyhouse Cafe – Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

    The Storyhouse Cafe (facebook page) is about 5 minutes by bicycle or 10-15 minute walk from the castle, tucked away in a quiet residential area (map). The cafe, which just recently opened at the time of writing this post, is owned by a friendly American and Japanese husband-wife couple. When I heard they added an ice cream cookie sandwich (a rarity in Japan) to their menu, I just had to go and investigate! The sandwich is made using The Storyhouse Cafe’s homemade, American-style chocolate chip cookies (which are already tasty enough on their own) with vanilla ice cream in between. They are just the right size for when you’re craving some ice cream but don’t want a huge, towering cone of soft-serve. Not to mention, you can get a great cup of high quality coffee at a very good price (another rarity in Japan) to go with your snack! The cafe also makes for a good place to relax after seeing the castle and has a spacious play area for kids.

    American-style chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich. Yes please!

    American-style chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich. Yes please!

    Storefront of The Storyhouse Cafe

    Storefront of The Storyhouse Cafe

    Inside The Storyhouse Cafe

    Inside The Storyhouse Cafe

    Ajisai Coffee & Lounge (紫陽花) – Homemade Gelato

    The Ajisai cafe is located practically right in front of the main entrance to Matsumoto Castle (map). It’s a classic example of a Japanese-style “western” cafe, but most importantly for this blog post is that they have some good ice cream, in this case gelato! According to their signage, the gelato is homemade in the cafe and when I went to try it out, they had four different flavors available, including milk, matcha green tea, and a chocolatey mocha flavor, which you can get in a single (1 flavor) or double size (2 flavors). Since it was my first time there, I tried the simplest milk flavor. It had everything you want from a serving of gelato – the characteristic texture, nice flavor, and a square cone! I’m definitely planning to go there again to try their other flavors.

    Milk flavor gelato from Ajisai

    Milk flavor gelato from Ajisai

    Storefront of Ajisai Coffee & Lounge

    Storefront of Ajisai Coffee & Lounge

    Nawate Street

    Mono Store – Japanese “Ice Candy”

    Ice candy are basically popsicles, and are usually made with different kind of fruits, often with no dairy added. In Japan some popular flavors are sweet red bean, plain milk flavor, and various fruits like strawberry. I’m a big fan of the unique texture of the ice candy and especially the fun Japanese flavors! Today I found that the Mono Store, a cute shop on Nawate Street, sells homemade ice candy during the summer! They’re a great, light snack and very affordable (only 150 yen), plus the ice candy comes in interesting flavors like matcha green tea, red bean, “amao” strawberry, milk, and blood orange. Check it out here (map).

    Ice candy sign

    Sign advertising ice candy in front of the Mono Store

    Red bean ice candy

    Red bean ice candy in its super cute hippo packaging!

    Hopefully this list of ice cream shops helps you stay cool while you’re walking around Matsumoto this summer! I’ll add more shops as I find them too. If you’re around for a while why not try them all 😉 Enjoy!

    Shinshu Wine Summit This Week in Matsumoto

    The light-bodied, white wine selection

    The light-bodied, white wine selection

    Wine fans! This week the Shinshu Wine Summit is being held in Matsumoto (Wed., June 21st to Mon., June 26th), and if you’re interested in wine, I’d definitely recommend checking it out! Yesterday, I was invited by one of my friends and it really turned out to be a fun time so I just had to share on the blog.

    The Wine Summit is set up in the plaza/park next to the Parco department store. On weekdays, it’s open from 5 pm to 9 pm, and on weekends from 11 am to 9 pm. There are over 120 kinds of wine from 40 wineries, all from Nagano. There are four wine counters where you go and order the wine, which are separated by type: full-bodied white, light-bodied white/sparkling, full-bodied red, and light-bodied red. Though the wine list only seemed to be available in Japanese, at each counter they had the actual bottles out in front to view (most of them have English labels) and on top of that, there were sommeliers (at least a couple could speak English) waiting on each customer to explain the different wines.

    The wine ordering counters

    The wine ordering counters

    One glass coming right up!

    One glass coming right up!

    To be honest, I’ve had a lot of bad luck with Japanese wines, but yesterday at the Wine Summit, I got to taste a couple of really nice ones, both red and white, and they weren’t necessarily expensive! In general, the wines ranged from 600 yen to 2,000 yen for a full glass, with a couple of more expensive selections. Half glasses at half the price were also available.

    The food was pretty good (good pizzas, grilled seafood like oysters & scallops, fresh fruits, etc.) and not to pricey, too. The seating was set up like those German-style beer tents, so the atmosphere was fun and casual, and it wasn’t too crowded, though it will probably more crowded on the weekend. If you need a break from wine, you can get a glass of locally-brewed, Hotaka Beer.

    The party tent ;)

    The party tent ;)

    White mushroom pizza

    White mushroom pizza

    Nuggets of fried fish

    Nuggets of fried fish

    Locally brewed Hotaka Beer is also making an appearance!

    Locally brewed Hotaka Beer is also making an appearance!

    I’m so used to the super crowded, super expensive festivals like this in Tokyo and Yokohama, I was pleasantly surprised at the Wine Summit. So, if you’re eager to try some Japanese wines or just enjoy the fun, party-like atmosphere, then I highly recommend checking out the wine summit before it ends!

    My personal recommendation is the Riesling on the right. A little on the sweet side, but good balance.

    My personal recommendation is the Riesling on the right. A little on the sweet side, but good balance. Also, the Sogga pere et fils Merlot & Cabernet for red.

    Hashigo Yokocho food court : vegan options available

    So you’ve come to Matsumoto and have been to eat at all the usual tourist spots, or you just want to get away from the crowds and try something a bit different, Hashigo Yokocho on Uramachi Street is the perfect place for you. Tucked away between all the bars, clubs and sunakku is the perfect little food court. The name Hashigo, meaning ladder, is also used in Japanese for hopping from one place to another, e.g bar hopping, and Yokocho are the little narrow alleys full of shops and cheap places to eat. The name suits the place perfectly as you can easily hop from one store to the next and there are plenty of choices for food available.


    Whether driving, cycling, walking or taking the bus you shouldn’t have any problem at all, there is free parking for both bikes and cars, it is only a 2 minute walk from the bus stop. However, even if you are walking from the station it is only about 15 minutes and from the castle, only 10. On a nice day I’m sure you will love the walk.



    Upon arriving, you first notice the beautiful traditional Japanese style entrance and just inside there is a small Torii (archway) and miniature shrine which really adds a nice touch. Inside is like stepping back in time to a more traditional Japan. I found myself instantly reminded of the movie spirited away with the amazing style of everything.


    Taking a walk around, you can check out all the cute little stores. Most only big enough for a handful of people. Every store has its own style, for starters, right by the entrance there is a store called “Shun” where you can try “Oden” a Japanese dish consisting of different vegetables, fish cakes and eggs all boiled together in a delicious broth.


    You can try Chinese food at “Lili’s Kitchen”, Teppanyaki (food cooked on the hotplate right in front of you) at “Teppanyaki Fumoto” or go to an izakaya (Japanese style bar) for a beer or sake.

    Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday you can go early to buy fresh locally grown vegetables from “Sasaki Seeds” and take home with you to cook later.


    All your tea needs can be met at “Chahua” selling a wide range of different Chinese and herbal teas and accessories such as cute little tea pots. Although the owner doesn’t speak much English, they are very friendly and helpful and will happily brew a tea for you in store.

    .tea shop


    My personal favorites, however, are the 5 star Indian restaurant “Doon Shokudo Indoyama” and the cafe “Chokonto”


    Doon Shokudo Indoyama is run by a lovely couple who speak fluent English. You have your choice of three delicious curries including a vegan option if you are not much of a meat eater. All curries come with a popadom, chapati and great conversation. Also feel free to ask the owner for extra rice if you’re feeling hungry.


    Chokonto is by far one of the cutest cafes I have ever stepped inside, it has a real lovely style of all its own. It even has cute little handmade menus. Besides the nice variety of western style and Japanese style food and drinks, there are lots of really nice local made products that would make a great souvenir to take back home.


    As a bonus, if you happen to be in Matsumoto on the 7th of July, Hashigo Yokocho, will be hosting a small festival from 4m till 9pm where everyone will be wearing yukata (a light summer kimono) and there will special items for sale. And then everyone will head downtown afterwards.


    So please come and join the fun. :)

    Apple Picking with Pick-Up Service Starts!

    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!

    DSC_2457-768x513This 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.


    Fruit Harvest and Picking Season

    Fuji Apples with “Honeycore”

    Two Kinds of Fresh Grapes

    In Matsumoto, Nagano, Autumn is a season for beautiful colored leaves, mushrooms in forests, and yummy FRUITS!

    You can buy and eat various kinds of apples and grapes in farmers’ markets.

    But, if you pick apples in orchards and eat them immediately, you would be surprised that taste of fresh apples are different from usual ones you eat.

    Experience of picking grapes and eating under grapes is fun and it will be good memory.

    Some of the orchards where you can experience fruit picking in or around Matsumoto are,

    Five tips to enjoy Matsumoto Craft Fair

    Craft Fair Matsumoto is the biggest and oldest craft fair in Japan, attracting 50,000 ~ 70,000 visitors during the event.
    This year, celebrating its 30th anniversary with 280 craftsmen from all over Japan, along with many relative events in downtown Matsumoto city.

    May 24th (Saturday) & 25th (Sunday) / Free admission

    The “Five Tips” to enjoy Matsumoto craft fair even more are….

    1) 歩・・・Take a walk

    The craft fair venue is at “Agata-no-mori Park“, just 2 kilo meters away from JR. Matsumoto station. It is a nice walking course with lots of natural spring wells (w/ drinkable water) and unique shops. Arriving Agata-no-mori, exploring the buildings of the “Former Matsumoto High School” . The school buildings full of western influences were constructed in 1920, and designated as a national important cultural properties. In the campus, old trees of zelkova and cherry are forming an atmosphere of small forests.

    2) 知・・・Expand the knowledge

    280 craftsmen including wood carvings, ceramics, lacquer wares, metal works, weaving, dyeing, glass works, leather and food producers will be all over the park. From traditional to modern techniques you can learn various craft art forms all together.

    3) 聴・・・Live concerts
    As you may already know, Matsumoto is so-called the town of music. Here at the site, live music concerts will be held on Saturday evening (May 24th). Admission Free, can bring your own food and drink, or temporary mini bar is available at the site. It is so relaxing to listen to nice music on live in homey atmosphere.

    4) 食・・・Eat
    There are always full of booths selling various foods and drinks. Usually they are situated at the north-east side of the park, and so many to choose from: Japanese, Cambodian, Indian, Italian, German,  Macrobiotic and so on. And there are many nice restaurants on the way from the station, too. It’s worth visiting just for experiencing different taste!

    5) 買・・・Shopping

    Nothing to explain here, I guess!
    Hope you are able to find a special piece and take home with other beautiful & unforgettable memories of Matsumoto City.
    *The vendors often don’t accept credit cards at the site. Go to International ATM (the main post office on Honmachi St. is closer from the park) before visiting the event if you wish to purchase there.)

    Read also an article of Matsumoto Craft Fair by Winifred Bird on The Japan Times

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