Blogs from Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan, Asia


Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto December 31st 2019

With snow shoes in hand, and poles acquired with pre Christmas sales, we were set. Decathlon Spain set us free from needing to rely on gear hire locations for any winter hiking. The snow shoeing bug hit us after two previous winter trips together here, and my natural aversion to skiing/ snow boarding (with its injury risk) plus P2s passion for photo taking lends itself to ‘snow the slow way’. Comparable to such trip costs in NZ, we have come again for a fairly economical holiday ‘fix’! Trawling the snow forecasts across a few sources had informed where we would choose to go. Fast forward to December 2019 post-Christmas, and barely a flake had fallen in parts of Nagano prefecture, where we’d begin. Air NZ again took us to Narita, and the flight, seat choice, and ... read more
Matsumoto castle
Nagano alps from castle
Matsumoto castle at zero degrees

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto April 28th 2019

We entered a busy Tokyo station to depart to Matsumoto, a small town in the alpine region of Japan. The station was hectic, likely as we were travelling at the beginning of Golden Week, one of the busiest if not the busiest, times to travel in Japan. It was also due to be the longest national holiday Japan has had due to the emperor Akihito’s abdication. A period of celebration. We collected pastries from a bakery inside the station, a pain aux raisin, Apple pastry and banana cake to eat on the train. By the time we got to the platform the busyness had settled down and we left for Nagano, one of the larger cities in the mountains in Japan, and a hub for alpine activities. After just over an hour on the Shinkansen, Japan’s ... read more
Strawberry Daifuku
Ramen Egg
Tea in Ryokan

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto July 14th 2018

We woke early and went to the bus stop to go to Matsumoto. It was overcast and cooler than yesterday. The journey was scenic. It took a couple of hours through the mountains and past an enormous dam. We arrived in a very hot, steamy Matsumoto for our final day in Japan. We dropped our bags off to our (unairconditioned) backpackers, then headed toward the Matsumoto Castyle. It was beautiful. We went in, around the gardens (it was very crowded) then into the castle up the many, steep stairs to the top (four floors). The views of the city were lovely. We decided to get an ice-cream because it was steamy and I could not be bothered eating anything else. We wandered around the town, through temples, shops and around the village. It was a charming ... read more
Journey to Matsumoto
Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto Castle

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto October 11th 2017

Hello my fellow travellers! Yesterday I had a wonderful and relaxed time together with Junko and Bárbara in Fujieda and Shizuoka, enjoying a tea ceremony (chanoyu) and I was able to purchase both a kimono and a pair of hakama (trousers). Today it was time to continue my journey though and so I said my goodbyes to Junko for this year as I stepped on the shinkansen (bullet train) going west. I left together with Bárbara who was heading towards Kyoto while I stepped of in Nagoya to switch for a train going to Matsumoto. On the train station in Shizuoka she said that she was going to miss me, but I told her to look at it from the positive side. Now my befuddled face wouldn't drive her mad anymore. However, she said she was ... read more
Frog Statue
Haiden (Worship Hall)
Kuromon (Black Gate)

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto August 6th 2017

Heute die japanischen Alpen durchquert. Sie sind recht steil aber nicht übermäßig hoch. Dafür beginnen Sie aber auch bei Meeresspiegel, so dass die relative Höhe auch gleich die absolute Höhe ist. Sie sind bis zu den Gipfeln bewaldet und es fehlen die Felswände. Irgendwie wie ein wild gewordener Schwarzwald. Hier verlief auch die Straße, die früher Kyoto und Tokyo verband. Einige Dörfer sind noch im alten Stil erhalten und heute eine Touristenattraktion. Und weil heute Sonntag ist, waren wir nicht allein. Der Straßenbau in Japan verblüfft mich immer wieder. Wenn gerade kein Mensch da ist, der sich vor mir verbeugt, dann ist es ein Plakat, das einen sich tief vorbeugenden Arbeiter darstellt. Oder eine LED Anzeige, wo sich einer pausenlos verbeugt. Wieder fuhren wir teilweise auf sehr schmalen Straßen. Aber wenn dann plötzlich Platz ist, folgt ... read more

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto October 13th 2015

Nat and Bill 's trip 2015 Japan! We arrived in Tokyo on Saturday evening and caught a train (the slow one!) to central Tokyo to spend our first evening in Japan. The next morning we started early and took the short walk to Tokyo station to validate our JR rail pass(a must for any foreign tourist in Japan doing extensive travel by train) and reserve our tickets to Matsumoto in Nagano prefecture. Tokyo station is huge!! It was bustling with people on a Sunday morning, and the array of foods you can buy for your onward journey or just to sit, eat and people watch was astounding. We had a traditional bento box for our brunch. 2 hours later after a speedy journey on the Shinkansen (bullet train) we were in Matsumoto. A neat, compact and ... read more
Me and Bill
Mirrored cones
Downtown Matsumoto

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto June 14th 2015

So we decide that we are going on a day trip to Matsumoto Castle off on the train we get and arrive in Matsumoto. Quickly we find our way to the castle. Matsumoto Castle is one of the oldest five story tenshu in Japan. It was amazing going around the castle and climbing the stairs to each of the floors. I am not a very tall person and the Japanese are smaller than me so why do they build staircases with stairs so far away from each other I have no idea - there must be a reason but it beats me! The gardens were also amazing with so many fabulous flowers and plants. As I was looking out the window of the castle there was a Geisha girl walking and the vision looked so Japanese ... read more
Geisha girl walking in the gardens

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto July 11th 2014

To the average Westerner such as myself, the Japanese language can seem quite daunting. The whole time I was in Japan I thought that 'jō' meant castle as in Matsumoto-jō is Matsumoto Castle. Not exactly, at least according to the ultimate source for all translations... Google. But if I told people I was going to Matsumoto-jō they understood. I think 'shiro' might be the actual word for castle. After the Alps I spent a few days in Tokyo which was fine, albeit brutally humid, and not nearly as expensive as I was expecting. Last Thursday I flew to Vladivostok, Russia, yesterday to Irkutsk, tomorrow to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, then no more flights for nearly the next 2 months. Всего Хорошего! Matsumoto Matsumoto first appeared sleazy as I initially spent an inordinate amount of time in the seedy ... read more
Inui Kotenshu, a.k.a., Northwest Minor Keep

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto April 3rd 2014

Takayama We had planned two stops in the alps region. Due to hostels (again!) we could only stay one night in Takayama. There seemed like a lot to see and do in and around Takayama so it was a bit of a shame, but we had a lovely time there. It was also our first time in ‘real’ beds for a while! We had a family room with bunks. Our hostel was only a short walk from the two ‘traditional buildings preservation areas’ so our first afternoon was spent wandering around the Sanmachi-suji (district). We wandered a few streets of restored/preserved merchant shops and private houses. There were several sake breweries (breweries closed, shop open) and plenty of tourist type shops. It was lovely wandering around. The next morning we headed out again on foot starting ... read more
hot and cold drinks, snacks, ice cream
Matsumoto castle at night
the Alps

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto October 9th 2013

Tuesday morning started with packing the suitcase again. I really love the luggage transfer service they have here in Japan, because I could leave the suitcase with the hotel reception and travel to my next hotel with just my backpack. The downside is that it is an overnight service, so once again I would arrive at my hotel without most of my stuff. Not a big deal, really. I just made sure I had the crucial stuff in my backpack. Then it was off to catch the trains. It was a decent train trip too. One hour to Okayama (a trip I have done a few times already), just over two hours to Nagoya on the shinkansen, then another two hours from Nagoya to Matsumoto. Plus there was some waiting at the stations in between, so ... read more
Me and a Samurai
Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto Castle

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