Last Updated: Jun 19, 2023

A Day Trip to Matsumoto

The Castle & Other Attractions

Donny Kimball
7 min readOct 22, 2020

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A view of the mountains from Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture

As I sit down to write this article, it’s late afternoon on a surprisingly warm and sunny Sunday. Just yesterday, Typhoon Chan-hom rolled through and dowsed Japan in sheets of rain. Only twenty-four hours prior, I had come to terms with the fact that I was going to be grounded for the weekend. Luckily though, the stormy skies abated early this morning giving way to one of the nicest days I’ve seen since summer’s end. Not wanting to waste a minute of the wondrous weather, I boarded one of the early morning limited express trains bound for Nagano Prefecture’s city of Matsumoto.

This is going to shock long-time readers but I’ve actually never been to Matsumoto. Though the former castle town has been on my bucket list since its inception, something always popped up that caused me to reschedule my visit. Thanks to the timely departure of Typhoon Chan-hom today, I was finally able to cross Matsumoto off the list. While I made a point to get an extremely early start, I think the entirety of the adventure came in at a little over fourteen hours all things considered. Though indeed aggressive for a day trip, it is easily doable for all but the most leisurely of travelers.

If you’re on the fence about visiting Matsumoto (or haven’t even heard of it before), the following guide will illustrate why you need to add it to your next Japan itinerary. Assuming that you’re staying somewhere in Tokyo, a quick trip up to Matsumoto will allow you to experience one of the few remaining original castles while also getting a taste of central Japan’s culture. As if this weren’t enough of a reason to start planning, know that you can also accomplish this feat without throwing the rest of your travel plans awry.

How to Get There

A limited express train heading from Shinjuku Station towards Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture

Before examining Matsumoto’s amazing medieval fortress and whatnot, let’s first do our due diligence and cover the logistics of getting there. All things considered, a visit to this important part of Nagano Prefecture is about as easy as it gets. All you need to do is board one of the…

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Donny Kimball

I'm a travel writer and freelance digital marketer who blogs about the sides of Japan that you can't find in the mainstream media. https://donnykimball.com/