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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,

Kiyomizu Art Festival in the Western Hills of Matsumoto.

For those with an appreciation for art and who may want to feel a little cooler in the summer heat, nearby Matsumoto on the western slopes of the surrounding hills is a place called Kiyomizu Highland named after the Temple there that was the original temple from which Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto was named. The locals there are putting on an art festival with a variety of open Studios and even musical events at the Kiyomizu Skyland resort hotel over the next two weeks.

Should you want to vistit or even pop in on the original Kiyomizu temple take a look at the schedule below or the facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/KiyomizuArtfes?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser)if you can read or work with Japanese with a translator.
While you are there you can take a nice Onsen style bath with a great view of the entire Matsumoto Valley and along the Japan Alps at Kiyomizu Skyland. The temperature up their is a good 5 degrees cooler making it a popular mountain cabin locality. You may even spot some monkeys getting about along the way.

Cherries in Full Bloom and New Ninja Waiting You in the Castle


Cherry blossoms are now blooming in Matsumoto. Cherries in the Matsumoto Castle are in full bloom and “Nighttime Cherry Blossom Viewing” event is held every night until 14th.

A new sticker of “cherry and castle” has also just started to be sold in the souvenir shop in the Castle garden.
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When you enter the castle garden, you see samurai wearing armor. It is service by omotenashi group and you can take a photo with him freely.

Last year, a cool ninja and cute princess joined. They sometimes appear, so if you are lucky you can meet them.




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.

Japanese-Style Illumination at Asama Hot Spring Has Started!

In Japan, the winter is a season of “illumination”. There are some beautiful illumination spots lighted up by LEDs. In Nagano, Karuizawa, Azumino, and Suzaka’s illumination events are famous.

This winter, not large but unique illumination has started at Asama Hot Springs in Matsumoto. It is Japanese taste design lighting in front of Hot Plaza Asama, a day trip hot spring facility. You can watch the “healing illumination” while soaking your feet in the free foot hot spring.

Japanese-style illumination of origami cranes and Matsumoto temari balls, made and played in the castle in Edo period.

Japanese-style illumination of origami cranes and Matsumoto temari balls, made and played in the castle in Edo period.

The lights on trees are designed to twinkle by natural wind, like stars in the sky.

Because of the M 6.7 earthquake that occurred on 22nd November and damaged some portions in Hakuba and Northern Nagano, even hotels in Asama Hot Springs suffered from cancellations, even though Matsumoto is in the center of Nagano Prefecture and didn’t have any direct damage.

Now, there are no problems at all sightseeing spots and ski resorts in Nagano, including transportation.

Kick-off ceremony of illumination

People in Asama Onsen hope this beautiful illumination will overcome the quake.?

Asama Hot Spring is located in a convenient place in Matsumoto, Nagano. It is just a ten minute bus ride from Matsumoto Castle. It also has a very long history, 1,300 years or more and feudal lords of the Castle visited there in the Edo period (17th century).

All the lights are LEDs using small amounts of electricity

The illumination is shining 5pm to 0am until April 19.

More than twenty traditional Japanese ryokans in Asama Onsen and the illumination are wating for you.

Matsumoto and Nakasendo Not Affected by Eruption of Mt. Ontake

As you may know in the news, Mt. Ontake, the 3067-meter volcano, erupted on Sep 27, Saturday.

I want to express my deep sorrow that around 30 climbers climbing on the top of the mountain seem to have died.

You cannot enter ONLY the 4km-radius cautionary zone from the summit of Mt. Ontake. Matsumoto is 60km from Mt. Ontake so does not affect the ordinal life and travel.
Tsumago, Magome, and Narai-juku of Nakasendo, which is a very popular walking course among foreigners, can be also travelled safely.

All trains, buses, roads in Nagano Prefecure except inside the cautionary zone are operating as usual.

The Kiso area and Mt. Ontake that has Ski Resort in the mountain foot are very nice places. I hope the eruption would calm down and missing climbers would be found soon.

See also this blog.

Mt. Ontake, the 4km-radius cautionary zone, and major sightseeing spots:

See a large map.

Stay at Kamikochi – Twilight foggy pond, natural spring river, wild monkeys

I had a chance to stay in Kamikochi, at the foot of the Japan Alps. Kamikochi is popular for a carless resort and for the hiking courses you can enjoy in a national park, but many tourists visit only in the daytime.

But, its natural beauty in the evening and morning is awesome.

Kamikochi is located between Takayama and Matsumoto, two spots popular among foreign travelers and you can visit by bus from both towns.

Taisho Pond and Mt. Yakedake, an active volcano. The pond was created by an eruption of Yakedake in the Taisho era.

Taisho Pond with the backdrop of the Japan Alps

Mysterious foggy pond

Nobody was on the Kappa Bridge, the major and busy spot in Kamikochi.

Shimizu River. Its water is 100% from a natural spring, so the river is never muddy even after a heavy rain.

I met wild monkeys. Kamikochi is also a place you can meet them closely.

Kappa Bridge in the morning

Walking trail in the woods

Takigi Noh, August 8th Friday


August 8th 5pm – 8pm
Matsumoto castle
Charge: Free

Noh, one of the traditional dramatic arts of Japan, is famous for its masks and its lavish costumes. Usually a Noh performance is given in a Noh theatre, on a Noh stage specially designed for the performance.

But every August in Matsumoto a special outdoor performance is given right in the inner garden of Matsumoto castle, starting in the early evening and continuing by lanternlight after the sun sets. Noh plays are hundreds of years old and sung in their own peculiar way, and most Japanese audience members are just as lost as the foreigners in attendance as far as the dialogue goes. But the nighttime staging of the Takigi Noh gives the symbol-heavy and supernatural dramas back a bit of the atmosphere that they once had, and thekyogen (“crazy talk”) comedies in between the two short Noh plays help relieve the tension with lots of physical comedy about drinking and getting the best of your feudal lord.

Typhoon Hits Kiso and No Train Service from Nagoya

A big typhoon hits Japan and a landslide happened in Kiso on July 9th.
Now only train services between Nojiri and Sakashita stations including Nagiso, gateway to the popular post town of Tsumago, have been canceled and busses are substituted. Express train “Shinano” services have also been canceled. Instead, you can take highway buses from Nagoya Bus Terminal to Matsumoto, but some of them are fully occupied. Another option is taking a train to Takayama then ride a bus to Matsumoto via Hirayu Onsen, gateway to Kamikochi (a free pass might be convenient). JR says the restoration work will be finished around Aug 9th.
Refer to this article for more details.

Candle Night in Matsumoto Museum of Art

On Friday night of June 20, which is one day before the summer solstice, the “Candle Night” event was held at Matsumoto Museum of Art.

It is held on the summer and winter solstice every year to enlighten people on environmental issues. But it is also a nice (and free of charge!) event to enjoy the fantastic night by only the light of candles on green glass in the yard of the museum with art and live music.

Kids enjoyed running around and adults enjoyed sitting on turf in my favorite courtyard of the museum.

A big objet d’art “The Visionary Flowers” by the world famous modern artist Yayoi Kusama, who is from Matsumoto, was also lit up by candles. and more mysterious than usual during Candle Night.

Candles in natural spring water flow

The building of the museum designed by a Japanese famous architect is also fancy.



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