Matsumoto is most well known for its castle, although it is fair to say that it is not on every traveler’s itinerary to Japan. There is not a huge amount to do here in terms of attractions other than visit the castle, although it is most used by travelers as a base if you want to explore the nearby Japanese Alps.
The town of Matsumoto sits in a valley surrounded by picturesque mountains that can rise to 3,000 meters and so if you want to escape the bigger cities like Osaka or Tokyo and come for a refreshing side trip then this is a good choice. Matsumoto Castle is one of the highlights here and it is famous for being the oldest wooden castle in Japan, something of a novelty in itself. The castle sits in the middle of a lake and is accessed by an iconic red bridge which is perfect if you want to take some photographs of ‘old Japan’ so make sure that you don’t forget your camera.
The streets in Matsumoto are winding and there is a strong cafe culture that lends itself to strolling around taking in the views and stopping for some lunch and drinks. The locals are friendly and engaged with travelers as this is not a prime tourist destination as opposed to other areas of Japan. If you want to go trekking in the Japanese Alps then a few days in Matsumoto either side can be a worthwhile experience.