Matsumoto

This city in the Japanese Alps is pretty, and is a good base to explore the area. Part of the Nagano prefecture, there are hot springs and wasabi fields around, as well as good hiking trails. The castle in the city, is also picturesque. Also interesting, is the former merchant district of Nakamichi, where you will be able to find some nice craft shops.

Matsumoto is attractive to travellers not only because of the traditional culture but also its calm climate and its products. Matsumoto soba is famous and many are delighted by its delicate taste. Just north of Matsumoto is the world’s largest wasabi farm. Wasabi can only be grown in extremely clean water so there is much local pride in this product. In addition, Matsumoto is home to the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto, held every August by conductor Seiji Ozawa and featuring the Saito Kinen Orchestra; regular guests have included Robert Mann and Mstislav Rostropovich. It is very difficult to get tickets: Many people wait in line two days before tickets go on sale.

Matsumoto, like many areas in Japan, is home to abundant onsen (hot springs). It also is host to a number of summer festivals, including the Bon-Bon Festival on the first Saturday of August, which features its signature dance.

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