Matsumoto castle at sunset, Japan
Discover Magical Matsumoto
The mountain city of Matsumoto is one of our top suggestions for a magical place to visit during your free time in Tokyo. It’s around three hours by bus so it’s worth getting there early to make the most of your experience. We’d suggest starting at Matsumoto Castle, Japan’s oldest castle, which sits on an elevated platform in the middle of a park filled with cherry blossoms and overlooks a tranquil lake that casts a dramatic reflection when the waters are still. You have the choice of going into the castle itself or simply exploring the grounds, then once you’ve finished taking photos, head to the famous Nakamachi street. This was once a merchant district full of warehouses and has now been transformed into a fantastic collection of quirky restaurants, charming cafes and small shops selling interesting crafts, clothes and souvenirs.
Once you’ve filled your bellies and your shopping bags, we recommend a stop at the privately-owned Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, which houses in excess of 100,000 famous Japanese woodblock prints and is widely regarded to be the world’s largest collection of this type of art.
We suggest ending your discovery trip to Matsumoto with a visit to Takato Castle Park. Beautiful year-round, Takoto at its most spectacular during the cherry blossom season when it is said to be one of the best locations in the whole of Japan to see the cherry blossoms in bloom.
Explore Japan’s oldest castle
See one of the best locations for cherry blossoms in the country