Nagano Prefecture surrounded by high mountains is located in the heart of the Japanese mainland. Though located in an often harsh geographical environment, the area has for generations functioned as a vibrant hub of trade and travel. The abundant culture of Matsumoto was born of its people's affection for their hometown enriched by the flow of those visiting who also treasured this place. To this day Matsumoto area continuously draws visitors from all over the world.
This website presents to you Matsumoto region's abundant features. It's onsens (hot springs), art galleries, cuisines, traditional arts & crafts, sporting activities, special events, and much more.
At the foot of the magnificent Northern Japan Alps on its west lie the Matsumoto Basin.
The eight cities and villages forming the region continue to attract visitors to their various unique features. This page introduces you to the scenery, culture, hot springs, and art galleries of each area along with their own unique cuisines, traditional arts and crafts.
Mastumoto is the Castle town of the National Treasure, Matsumoto Castle, with its over 400 years of history. Since old times, Matsumoto has thrived through economic and cultural exchange, and since the 19th century, with a progressive spirit, it has nurtured its rich culture as a “City of Learning”. Embraced by the 3,000-meter-high Japan Alps mountain range, this natural treasure-chest is known as the “City of Mountaineering”, and also as the “City of Music”, with its atmosphere refined by the beauty of the four seasons it's popular among all kinds of music enthusiasts.
Since old times, Shiojiri City has been a travel hub, and traces of its history can be found in various places. The historic Nakasendo Road post town of “Narai-juku” makes visitors feel as if they have time slipped into the Edo Period (1603 - 1868). Kiso Lacquerware is a specialty product of Shiojiri City, which is also flourishing as a “City of Wine”, with its nationally renowned wine growing region of Kikyogahara, for which it has gained significant international recognition.
Azumino City is dominated by the majestic Mt. Jonen and connecting mountains of the Northern Japan Alps. The mountains are covered in rich forest and the water from melted Alpine snow soaks the rice paddies and fields of the plains. Typical nostalgic Japanese scenery remains in Azumino, such as the trees surrounding residences of yesteryear. Azumino offers nostalgic beautiful scenery in each of the four seasons.
Ikusaka Village with its mountains in the background heaped up upon each other, is in the valley through which the Saigawa River flows. The village is surrounded by the nearly 1,000-meter-high mountains of Mt. Kyogakura and Ojo, while further beyond, the great view of the Northern Japan Alps can be seen. The pristine water of the Saigawa River runs throughout the village, which enjoys the blessings of nature from both the mountains and the river. The village comes to life from spring to fall, as people cultivate their fields, preserving the tranquil lifestyle of a traditional mountain valley farming village.
Surrounded by mountains, Chikuhoku Village is a beautiful farming village with its own traditions and culture. Mt. Kamuriki (Mt. Obasute) is a well-known moon-viewing spot, which is located in the area, and also as an old post town of the Zenkoji Kaido Road, the village still maintains its history. The village is also called the “Village of Mandala” as there are many shrines and historic Buddhist sites within the village.
Omi Village is situated between the Chikuma and Saigawa Rivers. Serving as a post town along the road which connected Kyoto with the eastern provinces of Japan back in the Heian Period (794 - 1192), and also a post town of the road that connected Zenkoji Temple and Kyoto in the Edo Period (1603 - 1868), the village developed a refined culture. Known as the “Village of Mandala”, with its history and historic sites, the village still continues to speak to people's heart and soul.
Yamagata Village is located in the western reaches of the Matsumoto basin. At street corners in the village, dosojin statues (travelers' roadside guardian deities) watch over people passing by. From Kiyomizu Highland, the entire Matsumoto basin can be viewed, and its rural landscape has its own kind of beauty in each season. Local specialties such as nagaimo (Japanese mountain yam), soba (buckwheat noodles), and apples which are grown in the clean air and water are highly acclaimed in and outside of Nagano Prefecture.
The first light of dawn on the Matsumoto basin shines upon Asahi Village, where each of the four seasons can be distinctly felt. Mt.Hachimori and the Kusari River nurtures nature, and from the fertile field come the rich blessing of highland vegetables. The village has a history and culture dating from the prehistoric Jomon Period, and the great feel rural lifestyle can be experienced in this village.
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