One of the places I visited using the Japan rail pass, was Matsumoto. I’ve heard that this city was a little bit underrated, so I wanted to give it a try. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm and the blossoms were already decorating the city.
The last week of March, the city was calm, I saw a few people riding their bycicles and very few tourists. The Metoba river gave the city a charming and welcoming feeling; and the beautiful drainage covers looked like a mosaic collage. The flags moving with the wind with the red dots of artist Yayoi Kusama showed how proud Matsumoto is of this artist who actually lives in New York but was born in Matsumoto. You can find her work at the Matsumoto city museum of art.
Within a short walk from the train station you can find Matsumoto castle, the castle was not crowded, the entrance is free but if you want to go inside, you will need to pay a fee. I was enjoying the warm weather from a bench, first row and in front of me I had the beautiful castle and a school of carps looking for food and opening their big mouths in the water. It was too nice to go inside, I thought.
If you go to Matsumoto, I would reccomend trying Soba, a buckwheat noodle dish typical of this region. My choice was a delicious soba dish with plenty of vegetables at Matsumoto Kobayashy soba restaurant which happened to be next to my hotel, the Soba was very tasteful and the portions were abundant. I also enjoyed the “Cafe” atmosphere of this place and the service was very good. They explained to me the different menu options in English, such as the cold or warm Soba dishes.
During the evening, Matsumoto is very quiet, we had dinner at a restaurnat called: Mt. Baru which had a good selection of wines, and a variety of mediterranean dishes, the vegetables and the truffle fries were delicious!
I think that Matsumoto is a nice place to visit, it is very pedestrian friendly, and even if it is a city it has the charms of a big town, for me one day was enough to enjoy it.
Where I stayed: Hotel mor-schein Matsumoto
This hotel is walking distance from the train station and also walking distance from Matsumoto castle. The service was very good and friendly and the rooms were spacious and very comfortable.
How to get to Matsumoto:
I went from Takayama to Matsumoto by train using the JR pass. There are trains deparing from Shinjuku and it will take around three hours to arrive to Matsumoto. For especific schedules please visit Hyperdia.
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