The Official Tourism Site of Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan
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Festival² in Matsumto!

Oct 1st ~ 3rd,  we have two local shrine festivals here in Matsumoto.

Yohashira Shrine・・・・1st to 3rd, downtown near the castle

Asama Hot Spring・・・the night of Oct 3rd!

↑ Shinto-sai at Yohashira Shrine ↓

At night, fireworks display the river Metoba.

↓ Taimatsu-matsuri (Fire Festival in Asama Hot Spring)

Have fun!!

Snowmobile, snowshoeing & cross-country ski at Utsukushigahara 王ヶ頭ホテル

Ougatou Hotel (Ohgatou Hotel)  王ヶ頭ホテル is located on the crest of the Utsukushigahara Heights (美ヶ原高原), an elevation of 2,000 meters.

In this time of the year, they offer very attractive outdoor activities for the guests.  Until the end of March,  guests can sign up for the snowmobile tour which leaves the hotel every morning.

They also provide a “Snowshoeing Plan,  snowshoes rental fee is included in the hotel charges.

Of course, you can enjoy cross-country skiing while staying there.  (Rental ski gears are available)

And the most of all, what is so distinctive about this hotel is its open-air bath and indoor bath with magnificent view.

There are no obstacles, in the 100 % wild and natural settings, visitors of this mountain lodge can be fully relaxed.

Please enjoy a fantastic view of 360 degrees from Utsukushigahara Heights.  This will surely become one of  the unforgettable experiences  in Japan.

Reservation・・・・・Ougatou Hotel (Rakuten Travel) or see “tripadvisor”

*Ougatou Hotel has selected as a Japan’s No.1 hotel for family use in Tripadvisor’s TRAVELERS’ CHOICE 2013 Award!!

*Note*  You can’t take your own car to the hotel during the winter( November 25th to April 20th) due to closedown of the road.  You need to make a hotel reservation, a ” shuttle bus”  will be there to pick you up from JR Matsumoto station.

Before snow melts, better hurry to see their greatest view!!

Koshin sama (お庚申さま)Festival in Asama & Azusagawa on 22nd

At the night of Koshin (庚申), traditional Japanese conduct a special ritual.  The 22nd of February, Koshin festivals will be held at Koshin – do (庚申堂) in both Asama Hot Spring and Azusagawa Ueno district.

←(photo taken by Fujinoyu)

Koshin (庚申) is a name of a day which comes to 57th of the sexagenary cycle of Japanese lunar calendar (traditional calendar with Chinese zodiac signs).   According to Taoism, the night of “Koshin”, the “three worms (三尸・さんし)” the spiritual figures which believed to live in our body will come out from the human while the owner of the body is sleeping,  and these three bugs will go to heaven to make a report on humans ill deeds to Tentei (天帝), the god.   The heavenly god will make a judgement  for each people’s life span after hearing from these three worms reports.   In order to prevent from “three worms’ declaration to god”,  Japanese folks had made a ritual to stay awake on the night on Koshin.   That was a beginning of Koshin Festival.   In “Makurano soshi (枕草子)” (very early essay book written by a noble lady in A.D. 996), there are some descriptions about the night of Koshin,  therefore this festival has been held for more than a thousand years by Japanese folks.

image of three worms                        ↑ Symbol of Koshin with three monkeys

Shinkoji Temple in Azusagawa Ueno, the western foothill region of Matsumoto

To find the temple, just follow the red flags.  The color red is a symbol of Koshin so as monkeys.

← Three monkeys in Shinkoji temple

At Hot Plaza Asama (communal onsen) ,  there will be a welcome service hosted by local ladies.

Inside of the temple, monks are reciting sutras all night long, locals are selling lucky Daruma figures.

Asama Hot Spring ← click to open the map

Shinkoji Temple ← Map

Hope you have a chance to eyewitness this ancient ritual here in Matsumoto.

Fukujuso Festival in Shiga

Fukujuso Festival will be held in Shiga from March 2nd to 20th.

Fukujuso (Far East Amur adonis or “adonis ramosa”) is a popular spring flower which is distributed in mountain forests throughout Japan.    In Matsumoto area, this tiny wild flower is a sign of advent of spring.   Fukujuso Park in Shiga, about 0.5 million fukujuso grows naturally within this 1.5 hectares park, and  there is no other place with same amount of fukujuso in  Nagano.  Tens of thousand people come to see these adorable early spring flowers during this festival period.

←click to open the brochure.

To get there, take Alpico local line “Shiga line” from Matsumoto bus terminal.   It takes about 30 minutes to reach to “Fukujuso Park” from downtown Matsumoto.  (Please be careful with the schedule, the bus comes only once in 2~3 hours.)

In Shiga, there is a very nice onsen ryokan(B&B) calledMatsutake Sanso.  Not only its high quality natural hot spring water, they serve delicious cuisine in the restaurant (lunch and dinner, no reservation required).

Matsutake Sanso offers day visit hot springs which tourists can use without making a reservation.   Since the bus comes once in 2~3 hours, it will be nice to rest and be relaxed in onsen facility while waiting for the return bus.

Enjoy nice holiday in Shiga!!

Ski Kids Day in Norikura Ski Resort Feb. 17th Sunday

This coming Sunday, February 17th is “Ski Kids Day” in Mt. Norikura Ski Resort .

DAY PASS lift ticket for elementary school kids and preschool kids is only 500 yen for “Ski Kids Day”.  And “No Charge” for the children under 3 yrs old.

On kids day, there will be some fun events for kids.  Around 14:00~ they are going to serve a gigantic “Sanzkuyaki Burger” at the restaurant.   Sanzokuyaki is Matsumoto’s popular local dish, very similar to fried chicken.  This gigantic burger is for 100 guests, the diameter is about 70~80 centimeters.

Not only the burger, there will be kids lottery,  free snow mobile riding, and of course, your kids will be happy to take photos with “Sanzokukku”, the popular mascot.

Moreover, there are some wonderful news for both young students and adult beginners.

For “Young Students” including undergraduates,  DAY PASS lift ticket is HALF- PRICE only in February.  Check it out! ⇒ Half – price DAY PASS Ticket

And for very beginners (for elementary school students and older including adults), “Norikura Debut Package” will be suitable.
The package plan includes a DAY PASS ticket, rental ski gears  and 2 hours beginner’s lesson.   The charge is only 4000 yen.
To sign up for this reasonable package,  you have to be at the ski rental shop at 8:45 ~ 9:30 for morning session and 11:45 ~ 12:30 for afternoon session.
*To take this advantage, it is very important that you are a very beginner who ski for the first time.   If  your ski skill is too good to be a beginner, they will charge the difference of ski lesson fee.

Norikura Ski Resort is famous for its high quality powder snow and the difference in elevation of 1,400 meters.

And, Onsen!!  Both DAY PASS and HALF DAY PASS come with a onsen coupon ticket.   Yukemurikan is a communal onsen really close from the ski area.

Have a wonderful holiday!

“Kids Ski Day” on the 16th at Nomugi Ski Resort

February 16th Saturday is a “Kids Ski Day” in Nomugi Ski Resort.
Elementary school children and younger (Age under 12 yrs old) are free of charge for ski lift and there will be fun events (like treasure hunting and such)  for them.

Also every Sunday, free lunch will be served for the kids under 13 yrs old (preschoolers and elementary school children) after purchasing a DayPass. (Sorry, not for their parents, though.)

And during the season, a Day Pass Lift ticket will become half-price for the residents or workers in Matsumoto area (Matsumoto, Shiojiri, Azumino Cities and Asahi &Yamagata Village) . Don’t forget to bring your ID or some provable forms.

Nomugi Ski Resort is proud of its highest altitude (2130 meters above sea level) and long course (4000 meters length) with finest powder snow.

In a sunny day, you can see “diamond dust” (a phenomenon caused by tiny particle of snow and air in the right condition) in Nomugi.

Talk about food and onsen, Nomugi prepares both.

“Ramen” to our local “sanzokuyaki”, variety of delicious meals are prepared at the rest house.

And, of course “ONSEN”!!  Some Ryokans (Japanese style B&B) and lodges around Nomugi Ski area allow visitors to use their onsen bath (Sanso Watari,  WOODY MOCK, Ryokan Senraku ) with charge from 400 to 500 yen(/per guest).

Soba in Nomugi (Nagawa) area is always more than perfect, since original flavorous buckwheat is grown in this region.  See Nagawa soba festival page ⇒Nagawa Soba
After enjoying Ski and onsen, it will be nice to have delicious “soba” before leaving Nomugi.

Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani in winter time

Jigokudani Yaenkoen (地獄谷 野猿公苑) is located in Northern Nagano (Yamanouchi town) near Shibu Hot Spring.

During winter, you have to take the trail from Kanbayashi Onsen to Jigokudani since the road from Shibu Onsen is closed due to heavy snow.
To get to Yaen koen, it takes about at least 30 minutes on foot, yet it is depends on the condition of the trail.  This mountain pass is narrow, unpaved, often covered with snow and full of steps, it is almost impossible to follow by wheelchair.

On the way to Kanbayashi Onsen, the drive way was covered with snow and a bit slippery.  Snow tires are “must” item to reach Jigokudani area.

It is so beautiful to explore winter forest, but you need to prepare warm outfit as well as snow boots.

It was quite a bit of walk from Kanbayashi Onsen through the forest pass way, yet if you are lucky, be able to encounter Japanese Serow (goat- antelope recognized on IUCN Red List for least concern mammals) on the way to the park.

Or you may see some monkeys interrupting some tourists enjoying Onsen Rotenburo (outside bath) at a B & B called Korakukan.

This time, my friends from Salt Lake City (Matsumoto’s sister city!) U.S.  fully enjoyed watching these adorable snow monkeys relaxing in the warm onsen and playing all over the park.

Though it was very cold in deed, it was worth visiting this interesting and amusing wild park in the deep forest.

More detail ⇒ Jigokudani Yaen Koen

The New Year’s Holiday Schedule

Please check the holiday schedules prior to your travel planning for the new year!

New Year’s Holiday ← Click and open to see the bigger image.

Kaida Kogen Ski Resort

Kaida Kogen (heights) is located in Kiso region, less than 80 km from JR Matsumoto station.  The foothill of Mt. Ontake (3,067m),  there are several good ski resorts as well as nice hot springs in Kaida Kogen area.

Access: Take route19, make a turn toward west (follow route 361) at “Kiso Ohashi” bridge traffic light. Pass the Kiso Fukushima Ski Resort,  about 2 km away you are in Kaida kogen.

In this season, a Day Pass ticket for Kaida Kogen MIA Ski Resort is only 1,000 yen on weekdays except holidays.  Check this out!

The opening will be December 7th Friday! There are good restaurants which serve delicious local  foods and the kids park is well prepared.

And of course, hot springs (onsen) make you refresh and relax!  Yamayuri so is a public facility with nice Onsens.

Have a fun time in Kaida Kogen Resort!

Mt. Norikura Ski Resort “Pre-opening” on Nov 30th to Dec 2nd!

Mt. Norikura Ski Resort has opened from TODAY!
A spell of cold weather in these days enabled their ski slopes.

The good news is you can enjoy these pre-opening days with free of charge if you show ID card that can prove you are citizen of Matsumoto. If you are not, don’t get disappointed!  The charge of the guests from other places is only 1,000 yen until December 2nd.

Pre opening is November 30th, December 1st and 2nd.

Charge: Free for Matsumoto citizen,
1,000 yen for Non-Matsumoto guest

Opening hour: 9:00~16:00

After ski, it will be nice to enjoy hot springs in Norikura.  Have a nice weekend!

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