Matsumoto Castle and Japan Alps
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.
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
It's a small world (really tiny craft works)
Kitchen knives and frying pans
Tableware some of which are small chair shape
Village blacksmiths' booth is popular every year
“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.
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!
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
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
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.
“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!
Annual Yebisu Festival (a festival honoring Yebisu [the God of Wealth]) will be held at Yohashira Shrine downtown Matsumoto city from November 16th to 17th. Shrine maidens are going to give out talismans made of bamboo grass to worshippers and visitors. During this festival, popular traditional confectionery, “Kintsuba” will be sold in the shrine precinct. Dozens of various sweet shops around this region are selling their specially made kintsuba on both days. Kintsuba is a round or sometimes square shaped traditional cake made of bean paste covered with lightly baked mochi like skin, which signify squarish guard at the end of the grip of a bladed ‘katana’ samurai sword. There must be some plausible reasons or anecdotes to consume Kintsuba on Yebisu festival day for such a long period of time especially in this area, yet I haven’t been found one still.
Kintsuba is also available on local traditional confectionery shops. The photo of Kintsuba is provided by “Hanayagi” 3-7-49 Fukashi, Matsumoto (near Fukashi Shrine).
Yebisu Festival・・・・・Yohashira Shrine Nov 16th & 17th
３０ different Sake brewing manufactures in this region are gathering at the Flower Clock Park, in front of south entrance of PARCO department store from October 12th to 14th. Each opening day, １０ local brewers are serving their special Sake to the ticket holders.
This is a rare and marvelous opportunity to taste various flavor of Sake and best matching appetizers.
October 12th, 13th & 14th ： from 11:00 ~ 15:00 (Last order 14:30)
Venue: Flower Clock Park (in front of PARCO department store)
Advance Ticket : 1,000 yen Ticket at the gate: 1,500 yen
Taste various local sake from 30 different brewers and try delicous appetizers which matches with sake!
Advanced tickets are available at the local restaurants and brewers (Kurano-Mukou, Shuraku, Raiden, Yamazato, Furinkazan, Banzaiya, Anju, Warikan , CROSS, Yamaya Sake Store, Miyosawa Sake Store, Aizawa Sake Store, Nakajima Sake Store, Otsuka Sake Shop, Yonetaya and Omoya-Hiraide Sake Store).
Soba Festival at Matsumoto Castle is on October 12th to 14th (Sat to Maonday) this year.
The biggest annual “Soba” festival in Nagano prefecture which attracts more than １６０，０００ epicureans and tourists from all over Japan. Not only soba, bunch of other local food and drink booths are arranged around the castle. This year, local “Sake” tasting event（1,500 yen /ticket) is also taking place at “Flower -Clock Park” in front of PARCO department store in downtown.
On the way to the castle, on Daimyo-cho street, live “Taiko (Japanese dram)” performance and other live performances by local artists will be played all day long.
Soba chefs from many other regions are competing their original hand made soba in the castle garden and downtown area for 3 days. This is going to be a perfect opportunity to taste different kind of soba with regional varieties, since each soba dish costs around 500 yen for this event.
You never get bored hanging about Matsumoto during this event since local soba, beer, sake, beef steak, fruits, vegetables and many other specialities are available.
Please come and enjoy this wonderful gastronomical party in Matsumoto!!!