Top 12 Things To Do In Matsumoto, Japan

things to do in matsumoto
Alex
Alex 
Updated
| 5 min read

Matsumoto is located in the Nagano prefecture of Japan. It is the second-largest city in the prefecture and it is a place of outstanding natural beauty nicknamed the “Alps” of Japan. The iconic Matsumotojo castle is one of Japan’s most beautiful original castles and it is an important landmark not only for the city but for the country as a whole. Apart from Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu, there are also other accommodations, such as rentals and onsen ryokans that offer amazing stays. The city enjoys warm humid summers and winters just below the freezing mark, making it an ideal place for winter sports without having to freeze yourself too much. This destination is full of amazing things to discover so if you’re going to Japan check out these top things to do in Matsumoto, Japan.

1. Matsumoto Timepiece Museum

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Matsumoto Timepiece Museum is dedicated to the art of timekeeping and showcases an extensive collection of more than 300 clocks, watches, and other timepieces from around the world. Visitors can explore the museum’s various galleries and exhibits, which range from ancient sundials and water clocks to modern-day smartwatches.

One of the highlights of the museum is the collection of Japanese clocks and watches, which includes a variety of traditional timepieces such as the Wadokei, a mechanical clock that tells time based on the position of the sun.

Matsumoto Timepiece Museum

Address: 1 Chome-21-15 Central, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0811, Japan

Website: Matsumoto Timepiece Museum

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (closed on Wed)

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2. Matsumoto Open Air Architectural Museum

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

One of the top tourist attractions in the city, Matsumoto Open Air Architectural Museum is an outdoor museum that showcases traditional Japanese architecture. The museum features over five historic buildings from the Edo to Showa periods which shows how the buildings were constructed, with furniture and machines true to its period on display too. Visitors can explore the buildings and learn about their history and cultural significance.

The museum’s building is an important cultural building that was constructed in the Meiji period (1908) and was formerly a courthouse.

Matsumoto Open Air Architectural Museum

Address: 2196-1 Shimadachi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0852, Japan

Website: Matsumoto Open Air Architectural Museum

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (closed on Mon)

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3. Relive Japan's samurai age at Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 663highland used under CC BY 2.5

Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan’s most iconic castles and it is known as a “hirajiro” which means it was built on a plain instead of a hill or mountain. Matsumoto Castle was built around 1592 but was later expanded in 1635. The castle’s interior has been preserved to remain looking as much as it would during the era in which it was built, giving visitors a very unique and authentic look at medieval Japanese architecture and style. Make sure to visit in April when the cherry blossoms bloom as there is a vast amount of them planted around the grounds.

Matsumoto Castle

Address: 4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0873, Japan

Website: Matsumoto Castle

Opening hours: 8:30am - 4:30pm (daily)

Price: 8 USD

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4. Munch on Nawate Street's famous taiyakis

Nawate shopping street
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user z tanuki used under CC BY 3.0

When in Matsumoto, you’ll probably see yourself walking down Nawate Street on your way to several other landmarks around town. Nawate Street (or frog street in English) is a long brick street along the Metoba River that has been around since the 1500s and it is full of frogs of all sizes. These frogs are, however, inanimate and not real frogs but they are abundant nonetheless. The street is flanked by tons of shops and stores many of which sell the delicious taiyaki. Taiyaki is a pancake-like treat that is made in a fish mold thought to have originated from Meiji-era Tokyo.

Nawate Street

Address: Japan, 〒390-0874 Nagano, Matsumoto, Ote, 3 Chome−4−3 松本M―1

Website: Nawate Street

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: 2 - 5 USD

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5. Buy quaint folk crafts on Nakamachi Shopping Street

Nakamachi shop street
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Peka used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Nakamachi Shopping Street is close to the town center and it is a perfect place for those looking to pick up a gift or souvenir. The Nakamachi Shopping Street was once home to many of the merchants of Matsumoto and now all the former warehouses have been converted to shopping centers and businesses selling their wares. The street goes back to the Edo period and it is home to handicrafts and handmade goods, making it one of the best places to visit in Matsumoto.

Nakamachi Shopping Street

Address: 3 Chome-2-14 Central, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0811, Japan

Website: Nakamachi Shopping Street

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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6. Check out Yayoi Kusama works at the Matsumoto City Art Museum

Matsumoto city museum of art
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 663highland used under CC BY 2.5

As a traveler, immersing yourself in the local art is something that everyone should do. Luckily, Matsumoto is home to the Matsumoto City Art Museum which showcases the very best in local artists. It is a must-visit spot for travelers looking for the best things to see in Matsumoto. Art from artists born in Matsumoto has been exhibited here such as the work of Yayoi Kusama with her bright and eclectic pieces that have been showcased all over the world.

Matsumoto City Art Museum

Address: 4 Chome-2-22 Central, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0811, Japan

Website: Matsumoto City Art Museum

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 5 USD

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7. Enjoy some soba noodles at Karasawa Soba Village

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Located a short distance outside the city, the Karasawa Soba Village is pretty much what it sounds like. The delicious soba noodle is what you’ll find here and it will be the best you can find anywhere near Matsumoto. Not only is the food amazing but the atmosphere is truly traditional and unique as you’ll be sitting on tatami mats and eating in the banquet room. The experience is akin to visiting your Japanese grandmother in the countryside - wholesomeness included.

Karasawa Soba Village

Address: Karasawa Soba Village, Yamagata-mura

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 5 - 10 USD

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8. Learn about ancient Japanese student life at the Former Kaichi School

Former Kaichi School
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Wiiii used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Former Kaichi School is home to one of the region’s first public schools. Opened in 1876, this school no longer operates as a school but it is mostly a museum of sorts to show the world how schools looked during that era. Before this time, it was mostly the children of the Samurai who would attend school but later in the Edo period, regular citizens started to attend school taught by Buddhist Monks. The Former Kaichi School is one of the first schools of the area that was established in a western-style tradition and was built by the community of Matsumoto who donated funds to build it in order for their children to also get an education.

Former Kaichi School

Address: 2 Chome-4-12 Kaichi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0876, Japan

Website: Former Kaichi School

Opening hours: 9am - 4:30pm (daily)

Price: 4 USD

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9. Wander through the peaceful oasis of Yohashira Shrine

Yohashira shrine
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user z tanuki used under CC BY 3.0

The Yohashira Shrine was built during the Meiji period as a dedication to the Shinto deities. It is currently one of the most popular shrines in the city and is a cultural landmark for the people of Matsumoto. Yohashira translates to “four pillars”, which has so many deities in one shrine, it is actually quite unusual for Japanese shrines. Because of its rarity, it is believed that the shrine has wish-granting abilities. It’s a popular spot to come to on new years and there are often festivals held here as well.

Yohashira Shrine

Address: 3 Chome-3-20 Ote, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0874, Japan

Website: Yohashira Shrine

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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10. Curl up with books and coffee at Sioribi Book Cafe

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

There’s nothing quite like a good book and sometimes when you’re busy traveling, you want to just sit back and relax a little bit. Sioribi Book Cafe is a popular spot for locals to come and hang out, enjoy a cup of coffee and indulge in one of the many books found here. Meet some new friends or just sit back with a cup of coffee and a book or enjoy one of their tasty snack cakes.

Sioribi Book Cafe

Address: 3 Chome-7-8 Fukashi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0815, Japan

Website: Sioribi book cafe

Opening hours: Thu - Tue: 7am - 8pm (closed on Wed)

Price: 4 - 10 USD

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11. Shop for unique home goods at Kirsikka

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If you’re wondering what else is there to do in Matsumoto, check out Kirsikka. Inspired by minimalist Scandinavian aesthetics, the place is a home goods store with a Japanese twist. Browse through their isles of cool, quirky and odd home goods like cookware and utensils or bathrooms and bedroom decor. You’ll definitely find something unique here to bring home with you.

Kirsikka

Address: 3 Chome-1-4 Fukashi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0815, Japan

Website: Kirsikka

Opening hours: 11am - 7pm (daily)

Price: 2 - 60 USD

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12. View exotic animals at Matsumoto Alps Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

In the northwestern area of Matsumoto is Joyama Park and just a little north of this hilly area is Matsumoto Alps Park. Bring some good walking shoes and explore the natural surroundings of the city and get some of the best views in Matsumoto. The park is a popular cherry blossom watch park but it also boasts a nature museum where people can come watch and pet some animals. This is a perfect spot for people with kids.

Matsumoto Alps Park

Address: 2455−11 Arigasaki, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0861, Japan

Website: Matsumoto Alps Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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An amazing experience in Matsumoto

Matsumoto castle 5
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dariusz Jemielniak used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Matsumoto is a beautiful city that’s rich with culture and history. Exploring the old city streets and getting a taste for the people and surroundings is an amazing experience anywhere in Japan but truly something special in Matsumoto.

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Frequently asked questions about things to do in Matsumoto, Japan

1. What are the most popular things to do in Matsumoto with kids?

If you’re with a kid, head to the Matsumoto City Art Museum for a fun immersive experience with local art. Matsumoto Alps Park is also a must-visit attraction where guests of all ages can pet the adorable animals and witness the cherry blossoms.

2. What are the best foods to try in Matsumoto?

To make the most of your getaway in Matsumoto, indulge in a gastronomic journey filled with delicious taiyaki from Nawate Street, soba noodles from Karasawa Soba Village, and tasty snack cakes at Sioribi Book Café.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Alex is a Canadian university graduate with degrees in English literature and History. He was born in Montreal and when he's not traveling he enjoys movies, video games, playing the drums and...Read more

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