The Official Tourism Site of Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan
The Matsumoto Welcomes You website has been renewed and is now Visit Matsumoto (! We are still working on fixing a few problems and you may notice some links do not work yet. We will fix them as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding!
Archive by month

ALPICO Plaza (Formerly Ario) Now Open!



Those familiar with the Ario Department Store that closed last year will be happy to hear that the building is reopening with new stores! The basement, 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 7th floors are now open, and the rest of the building will open from April. Tax free shopping will still be available (see stores for details).


Delicia, a chain supermarket of good quality, is located in the basement along with a few eating areas and souvenir shops. If you’re catching a bus from the Matsumoto Bus Terminal, you can do last minute shopping there!



On the 1st floor you’ll find the ALPICO ticket counter. Open 4:40-21:00/22:00-22:30, there you can purchase tickets both at the counter or via ticket machines. Credit cards are accepted. Their waiting area has 35 seats and supplies electric outlets and Wi-Fi access via ALPICO Free Wi-Fi. If you walk past the counter to the back of the waiting area, you’ll find an entrance to the bus boarding platforms. Buses running to Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya as well as more local destinations depart from here.


The new shops will include beauty salons, massage parlors, and clothing and shoes stores.
The 3rd floor’s Avail and the 4th floors Shimamura are already open.
The 7th floor still consists of a 100 yen store and a variety of reasonably priced restaurants that include Japanese, Chinese, and Italian cuisines. If you’re really hungry you can have all-you-can-eat dumplings.
Hopefully the rooftop summer beer garden is re-opened as well!

7th floor


Stay tuned for updates!

Official Site (Japanese only)

Earth あーす: Handmade Glass Accessories, Candles, and More!


Located on Nawate Street just down the road from Matsumoto Castle, this charming shop specializes in glass accessories and other crafts and even lets you try making things yourself!


Order custom-made glass charms!



Choose ready-made pieces to customize your accessories!

Hands-on Courses

Try making your own unique pieces to take home!
*Some activities have minimum age requirements




Price: ¥1,300

Time required to make: 15 min (+20 min to set)

L-Course: Larger containers and more time to create

Price: ¥1,600

Time required to make: 20 min (+30 min to set)

Snow Globe


Children can enjoy making these as well!

Price: From ¥2,300

Time required to make: 15 min (+40 min to set)


Price: From ¥1,200

Time required to make: 20 min

Leather Stamping

Price: From ¥1,000

Time required to make: 15 min

Music Box

Price: From ¥2,300

Time required to make: 30 min (+30 min to set)


Other goods are also available for purchase.


Why not bring home something to commemorate your time on Matsumoto’s “Frog Street”?


Or Matsumoto’s renowned temari silk-thread balls

store items

Shop Info

*Credit cards are not accepted*

Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dec thru Feb)

Closed: Wednesdays

Location: 3-3 Ote, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0874


New Year’s Decorations and Preparations in Matsumoto

Places around Matsumoto have started adorning themselves with the traditional Japanese decorations for New Year’s! If you go to Matsumoto Castle or major shrines like Yohashira Shrine, you’ll find impressive kadomatsu set up at the castle gates and in front of the shrine — the ones at Matsumoto Castle are especially huge!

Kadomatsu at the gates of Matsumoto Castle

Kadomatsu at the gates of Matsumoto Castle

An up-close look at one of Matsumoto Castle's kadomatsu.

An up-close look at one of Matsumoto Castle’s kadomatsu.

Kadomatsu are usually constructed out of cut bamboo, pine branches, and sometimes other plants or ornaments, and almost look like giant flower arrangements. They come in many different styles, so it’s fun to walk around and see all the varieties (check out some of the photos below too!). You will find them set up in pairs in front of houses, businesses, and shrines from late December to early January. Kadomatsu are thought of as a kind of “temporary housing” for the gods during the New Year’s holidays and therefore bring in good fortune for the New Year.

Kadomatsu at Yohashira Shrine by Nawate Street

Kadomatsu at Yohashira Shrine by Nawate Street

A closer look at the kadomatsu at Yohashira Shrine

A closer look at the kadomatsu at Yohashira Shrine

Kadomatsu in front of a business in downtown Matsumoto

Kadomatsu in front of a business in downtown Matsumoto


Besides kadomatsu, there are many other kinds of New Year’s decorations which, depending on the type, may be hung above doorways, on doors, on gate posts, or simply set up on a shelf. Along the main street in downtown Matsumoto, the Christmas lights have been replaced with special New Year made of pine branches and bundles of rice attached to each of the light posts.

Decorations along the main street

Decorations along the main street

If you’re in decorating your own house Japanese style this New Year’s, go check out the New Year’s decoration market going on now until December 30 on Nawate Street right in front of Yohashira Shrine (Google map)! The vendors have a big selection of decorations (including both big and mini kadomatsu!) that, if nothing else, are fun to look and get a feel for the festive spirit of the Japanese New Year :)

New Year's decorations lined up on one of the market tables.

New Year's decorations lined up on one of the market tables.

One of the New Year's decoration vendors in front of Yohashira Shrine

One of the New Year’s decoration vendors in front of Yohashira Shrine

Some of the stands are selling daruma dolls of all colors and sizes, too! Daruma are often bought around the New Year, as they represent a wish, goal, or resolution you want to accomplish during the next year (you can read more about daruma on wikipedia).

A daruma seller at Yohashira Shrine

A daruma seller at Yohashira Shrine

And, some of the sellers are quite festive all by themselves!

Photo credit: from our Japanese blog

Photo credit: from our Japanese blog writer Yamamoto. See their article here.

Enjoy the New Year!!

Get an Early Preview of Matsumoto’s New Aeon Mall

The new Aeon Mall in Matsumoto opened its doors to local residents yesterday (Sep. 16), calling it a “soft open” before the official grand opening on Sep. 21. The mall is sprawled across three separate buildings: the “Sky Garden” (空庭) which consists of a movie theater and shops selling local goods, the “Wind Garden” (風庭) which is apparently one of Nagano’s largest food courts, and the “Sun Garden” (晴庭) which is the main section that includes all the typical kinds of stores you would expect to find in a mall like apparel, accessories, toy stores, and even a huge grocery store.

The first floor of the food court

The first floor of the food court

Aeon Mall

A shop selling local fruits, vegetables, meat, and other food products like miso.

A shop selling local fruits, vegetables, meat, and other food products like miso.

It seems like Aeon Mall put a lot of thought into trying to give the place a local feel, as you’ll find they incorporate little pieces Matsumoto-inspired design all over the mall. I particularly enjoyed the unique the hanging temari decorations (temari are a traditonal craft from Matsumoto) in the food court area and the huge daruma doll in the Sky Garden area.

"Temari" decorations inspired by the traditional temari crafts originating in Matsumoto

“Temari” decorations inspired by the traditional temari crafts originating in Matsumoto

A gigantic "daruma" on display

A gigantic “daruma” on display

Overall, I think the mall has something that everyone will enjoy, even if you don’t like all parts of it. If you have kids, there are toy stores and fun shops like a candy shop modeled after old-fashioned Japanese candy stores, a model train shop with a moving, interactive model train, and an arcade. Besides your typical clothes & accessory stores, there is a large book store, an electronics store, a sporting goods shop, Kaldi – the import food/wine and coffee retailer, a big wine and liquor section where you can buy wine ranging from table wine to high quality bottles, and more. The mall also has large retailers like Muji and H&M.

A fun "dagashi" candy shop for kids

A fun “dagashi” candy shop for kids

A big toy train that you and your kids can play with

A big toy train that you and your kids can play with

A nice big book store!

A nice big book store!

Huge wine selection

Huge wine selection

Personally, I’m extra excited about the new theater, Aeon Cinema. The theater has eight screens including a 4K digital projector screen. The base price for a movie is 1,800 yen but they offer some great discounts like matinee shows, late show discounts, and 1,100 yen tickets every Monday for all movie goers!

The entrance to the movie theater

The entrance to the movie theater

The mall is located about a 20 minute walk from the station, but you can easily take the Town Sneaker bus or a bicycle, too (there is ample bicycle parking). The theater is open from 10:00 – Midnight, and the main mall from 9 AM – 10 PM (* On 9/21 and 9/22, it opens at 10 AM).

Aean Mall website (Japanese):
Aeon Cinema Matsumoto website (Japanese):

New Souvenir at Shop in Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle and Japan Alps

Souvenir Shop

If you enter the Matsumoto Castle, why don’t you drop at the souvenir shop in the castle garden?
It is located in the right-hand side after the ticket booth to enter the castle garden.

A Matsumoto citizen’s group made a new souvenir and has begun to sell since February — two kinds of stickers.
They are mainly targeted for foreign visitors. One is designed Matsumoto’s traditional folk craft, temari balls.

If you put it on your suitcase, you can easily distinguish it from others.

In the shop, there are many other souvenirs, such as armor helmets, T-shirts, temari balls, key holders, smartphone strapps, etc, etc.

All Kinds of Craftwork Gathered in Craft Town Matsumoto

Matsumoto is now popular by its oldest castle in Japan, but it is also famous for “Craft Town” among many Japanese.

In addition to folk handicraft makers, shops and the Matsumoto Folkcraft Museum, now some popular craftspersons escaped from urban life and lives in Matsumoto and the neighbor town Hotaka, Azumino. You can see and buy craftworks and “Matsumoto Furniture” in some shops in Nakamachi Street.

Once in every year — the last weekend of May, Craft Fair Matsumoto, which is the biggest and oldest craft fair (field exhibition) in Japan, is held in the beautiful park “Agatanomori”.

300 craft artists selected among 1000+ applicants from all over Japan exhibit and sell all kind of craftwork including lacquer ware, pottery, silk, wood, dyeing, etc.

Here are photos of this year’s Craft Fair;

Lacquer ware used for miso soup and other Japanese dishes

Traditional “Mastumoto broom” handmade from special grass, now popular in Japan because it is ecological and tasteful

Demonstration of silk weaving (you can experience it freely)

Silkworms you can touch!

Wooden chopsticks and spoons made from various kinds of tree

Clocks even hands of which are made from wood

Metal kanji characters

Clothes dyed by natural materials

Ceramics craft

It's a small world (really tiny craft works)

Kitchen knives and frying pans

Tableware some of which are small chair shape

Leather shoes


Village blacksmiths' booth is popular every year

Fashionable hats

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

Plum Blossoms Festival in Norikura

The 43rd Plum Blossoms Festival(sumomo-matsuri) will be held at Ichinose Ranch(一の瀬牧場)in Norikura Highlands on May 18th Sunday.

The ceremony starts from 10:30 a.m., admission is “free”. Live music with Alpine Horns, Taiko(Japanese drums), Yodel Chorus and Japanese traditional dance are offered to the visitors along with “Sake”, “soba” and “Miso soup” services.

Sumomo(Japanese plum) trees grow naturally in Norikura Highlands, they usually start blooming from mid- May and last until Mid June.

Sumomo jam, wine and ice ream are on sale at the shop in Ichinose ranch.

And don’t forget about famous Norikura Onsen(hot springs)! There are several inns and public bathhouse for day trip visitors.

Yukemurikan(湯けむり館)opens from 9:30~20:00, admission fee is 720 yen for adults, 300 yen for kids.
There are many small inns and hotels with onsen in Norikura area. ⇒Norikura accomodations

To reach Norikura highlands, Haruyama bus(春山バス) services are available until June 30th.
The bus departs from Shinshimashima bus terminal in Matsumoto, and takes visitors to the snowy corridors on Mt. Kuraigahara.
Haruyama bus info

2 Days Free Bus Passport (& 4 days also available)

Good news for the tourists who wish to visit Kamikochi, Norikura, Matsumoto and Utsukushigahara all at once.

Very reasonable 2 Days Free Bus Passport is now available at ALPICO bus terminals in Matsumoto and Shinshimashima.

This 2 days free passport is 5,150 yen for adults (half price for kids (including tax)), available at ALPICO counter in Matsumoto Bus Terninal and Shinshimashima Bus Terminal. It is handy to use and perfect for touring Matsumoto area! Just to show this passport to the driver before get off the bus (except for Kamikochi line). For Kamikochi line, you need to get a “Numbered ticket (determining order of service)”at Kamikochi Bus Terminal in addition to this 2 days passport for boarding.

With this amazing open ticket, all bus services including Kamikochi line(train), Utsukushigahara line and of course Matsumoto city zone lines become free within 2 days after the purchasing.

In addition to this, by paying double the price of 2 days pass, you can get 4 days free ticket called “Shinshu – Hida Wide Free Passport“.
With this 4 days pass, you can even visit Takayama and Shirakawa village and come back to Matsumoto. The pass is available at ALPICO counter in Matsumoto and Shinshimashima bus terminals, Takayama Nohi Bus Center and Gero Bus Center in Gifu.

Have fun!

“Matsumoto Concierge Map” will be distributed

“Matsumoto Concierge” is a civic volunteer group guiding tourists from JR Matsumoto Station and the downtown tourist information booth.
The Castle Town: Matsumoto Concierge Map” was created by “Matsumoto Concierge” members after numerous discussions, and the most useful, often unwritten, tourist information has been selected.

Recommended restaurants with price range, availabilities of credit cards, free wi-fi and English menus, and the locations for  free bicycle pick-up, convenience stores, drug stores, banks, coin lockers, camera equipment stores are addressed on the map.  Since all the spots, shops and restaurants introduced on the map are selected by the locos (Matsumotorian),  the short comments tell real stories of Matsumoto.

This unique and very useful map is provided at the major hotels and inns in the downtown area, and will be distributed at the “Matsumoto Concierge” booth which is located in front of the wicket gate of JR Matsumoto station during tourist season starting from this golden week.

However, the number of the map is very limited, it may not be available to every tourist who will visit Matsumoto in this year.

Please download the map image from ⇒ “Matsumoto Concierge Map“, so you can install in the tablets of yours and use them while strolling the town.

Have lots of fun along with this handy information!

Recent Comments