Our most recommended things to do in Matsumoto

Nagano/Matsumoto: Matsumoto Castle and Narai-juku Day Trip

1. Nagano/Matsumoto: Matsumoto Castle and Narai-juku Day Trip

Meet your guide at Nagano Station and board the bus to Matsumoto Station, the second pickup point of the tour. Once all guests are aboard, make your way to the historic center of Matsumoto, established as a castle town in the days of the Samurai. Begin the tour at Nawate-dori, known as “Frog Street”, home to more than 50 shops, restaurants, and cafes famous for selling all things frog-related. Browse shops selling an array of specialties including o-senbei (rice crackers), taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries), dagashi (candy), ice cream, and more. After looking at frog-themed sculptures and souvenirs, head to the Matsumoto Castle which dates to the end of the ‘Warring States Period’ with much of the original structure still intact. Explore the oldest surviving 5-tiered 6-story castle tower in Japan. Follow your guide into the castle grounds as you uncover the history and features that make it so lauded. Then, step into the castle itself, ascending all the way to the top of its 6 stories. Observe intricate woodwork and views of Matsumoto City. See a collection of historical guns, artifacts, and other items that offer a glimpse into the life of a Japanese warrior when the castle was first built. From there, enjoy some free time to take a longer look around the castle grounds and visit a few shops around the castle. Then, continue your journey to Narai-juku, which once flourished as a place for travelers to rest up on their journey from Tokyo to Kyoto on the Nakasendo road. Sit back and soak in scenic views of fields and mountains – often capped with a glistening blanket of snow. Arrive at the entrance to Narai-juku, near the train station, from where the guided portion of the tour begins. As you walk down the main street, learn about the quirks of Narai-juku’s construction and hear stories from its golden age. After the guided walk, get an hour of free time to look at the shops on the main street or grab a bite at a café or restaurant, before returning to Matsumoto or Nagano Station.

From Matsumoto/Nagano: Nakasendo Trail Walking Tour

2. From Matsumoto/Nagano: Nakasendo Trail Walking Tour

Join a guided hike of the historical Nakasendo walking trail from the well-preserved old Japanese town of Tsumago to Magome with roundtrip transportation from Matsumoto. Pass by eateries, souvenir shops, Japanese inns, and waterfalls along the way. Meet your guide in Matsumoto Station and be led to the tour bus to begin the journey to the Kiso Valley. Sit back and soak in the scenery on the way to Tsumago. Make a stop at a Japanese Michi-no-Eki, or a roadside service area. Leaving the Michi-no-Eki, continue to Tsumago, a well-preserved, rustic town of wooden buildings and mountain views. Be rewarded with a glimpse into Japan’s past. Enter one of the many buildings that are open to the public to see the lifestyle this town once followed. Follow your guide around on a walk and stay entertained and informed the whole way. After everyone has finished up at Tsumago-juku, it is time to start the 8 km hike to Magome. Keep an eye out for wildlife of various kinds – birds, lizards, and maybe even deer or badgers. Along the way, you will see parts of the path lined with cobblestones from the Edo Era (1600-1868), when this road was one of the major transportation connections between what is now Tokyo and Kyoto. Observe how the path now imparts an atmosphere of tranquility rather than bustling commerce. On the trail, find 2 adjacent waterfalls – Odaki and Medaki – the perfect spot to take a short break and feel the cool mist on your face. Or head inside one of the traditional houses offering water and relaxation. Share the same experience that travelers on this road have for hundreds of years. After the hike, rest up or treat yourself to a little snack from a wide variety of eateries in the post-town of Magome. Take in views of the surrounding mountain scenery. Walk through the main street lined with wooden buildings. See the waterways on either side of the street that power waterwheels.

Japan: eSim Mobile Data Plan

3. Japan: eSim Mobile Data Plan

Make your trip to Japan hassle-free with your convenient eSIM. Stay connected on your travels with high-speed coverage in Japan. Purchase and install your eSIM anytime and anywhere, and choose from a variety of data packages, validity options, and coverage in additional countries. Simply scan the eSIM QR code to access all your essential apps on your trip. Avoid the trouble of managing multiple SIMs with this zero-waste solution. Get one eSIM per device and top up by simply buying and activating additional eSIM plans as you go. Once activated, your coverage will begin according to your selected duration. Most devices released after 2019 are compatible with eSIM (e.g. iPhone XR, XS of models beyond, Google Pixel 4 and beyond). If you are unsure, please check the compatibility guideline photo to confirm eligibility. If you cannot connect to the internet after install this eSIM, please follow the Self Help Troubleshooting Guide in your GYG voucher. Carriers to use: Docomo(IIJ) APN(Access Point Name): vmobile.jp

Full-Day Tour: Matsumoto Castle & Kamikochi Alpine Valley

4. Full-Day Tour: Matsumoto Castle & Kamikochi Alpine Valley

The tour begins at JR Nagano Station at 8:15 AM. Your guide will greet all guests and quickly have you on your way toward the historic city of Matsumoto. Arriving around 09:45 AM, your guide will lead you to Matsumoto Castle one of Nagano’s most impressive cultural sites, known for its structural beauty set against a splendid mountain backdrop. Before making your way to the castle. Explore the famous "Frog Street" Nawate-Dori. Home to more than 50 shops, restaurants, and cafes most famous for selling all things frog-related. At the castle you will be guided into the castle grounds as your guide reveals the history and features which make it so lauded, before giving you time to explore for yourself. It’s then time to head high into the mountains, as you are transported into the Northern Alps and onto Kamikochi. Situated 1500 meters above sea level deep within the Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is famous for its pristine natural state, beautiful rivers and ponds, lush forests, and dramatic mountain peaks rising to over 3000 meters. The next few hours are yours to enjoy as choose. You can choose to stroll further along the river or sit at a café or restaurant, and simply take in the view. At 5:30 PM the tour bus will depart and begin the journey back toward Nagano.

Welcome to Nagano: Private Tour with a Local

5. Welcome to Nagano: Private Tour with a Local

Get an exclusive welcome to Nagano on a private tour with a local guide. Transform your way of traveling to make it as much about the people you meet as the places you see.  Follow your friendly local as they share their passion for the place they live. Learn all the tricks to make the most of the city and get tips on the best things to see. Meet in the neighborhood where you are staying to get familiar with the best places to eat and buy groceries. Hear about the easiest ways to get around, and the top things to do. By the end of the tour, you'll feel more comfortable and confident navigating the city on your own, secure in the knowledge that you have all the information you need to make the most of your stay!

Private Kamikochi & Matsumoto Tour: From Nagano/Matsumoto

6. Private Kamikochi & Matsumoto Tour: From Nagano/Matsumoto

This tour offers amazing value for travelers looking to get a taste of nature in Japan at their own pace, attended by a knowledgeable English speaking guide. Escape from the heat and crowds in the cities, and enjoy an evening in the Japanese Alps. Once your tour begins, you will board our private tour vehicle and be shuttled to our first destination. For guests boarding from either the Nagano or Matsumoto areas, that will be the formidable Matsumoto Castle. At a total of 6 stories high, and covered on the outside with black wood, it’s architecture is equal parts elegant and imposing, reflecting the era in which it was built. One of only 12 original castles left in Japan and registered as a National Treasure, the interior of the castle also houses a number of artifacts from the era of the samurai, including muskets, armor, and rockets. The views from the top of the castle are of course stunning, and the whole plain on which Matsumoto is situated in will be visible along with the mountains which surround the city. Guests will also have a chance to walk through some of the famous streets of downtown Matsumoto while on their way to the castle. A very picturesque city, Matsumoto is relatively small but boasts a lively art and music scene, and has a number of cafes and eateries catering to its residents. On Nawate doori, also known as frog street, you will have some time to sample local specialties and enjoy a visit to the most important shrine in the city. You will the board the tour bus again, headed for Kamikochi. Leaving from Matsumoto, the drive up the mountains is stunning and offers lots of scenery to gaze out on the roughly 1 hour long drive. Customers with a keen eye may spot a number of wildlife species along the way, including snow monkeys, Japanese black bears, golden eagles, badgers, and sika deer. Upon arrival at Kamikochi, guests will get off the bus at Taisho-ike pond, from where the 3 kilometer walk to Kappa-bashi (pictured above) will begin. The trail is flat and well maintained, and any guest of reasonable physical capabilities will be able to easily complete the trek. Upon arrival at the scenic Kappa-bashi bridge, guests will have further time to themselves to enjoy a snack or browse for souvenirs at the shops around Kappa-bashi. For those who would like to hike further, Kamikochi also offers other trails from Kappabashi that guests are free to explore on their own terms during this free time. Your guide will offer an explanation of what there is to do around Kappa-bashi before free time starts, Once free time is finished, your guide will lead you to the tour bus which will take you on to your destination, whether that be Nagano or Matsumoto. The return journey will take around 1 hour for guests returning to Matsumoto, or 2 hours for guests who will be returning to Nagano.

Shinshu-Matsumoto Airport to/from Matsumoto City Transfer

7. Shinshu-Matsumoto Airport to/from Matsumoto City Transfer

Enjoy a safe and reliable private airport transfer with a 24-hour service between Shinshu-Matsumoto Airport and your accommodation in Matsumoto city center.  Be greeted by your driver who will be waiting for you at the arrival hall with a sign displaying your name. Your driver will track your flight so you won't have to worry in case of a flight delay. Save yourself having to carry heavy bags and navigating the public transportation system and take comfort knowing that all vehicles are regularly maintained to high-quality standards.

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