The small town of Matsumoto is tucked away high in the Japanese Alps almost on the roof of Japan. It’s known for its castle, a 16th-century stronghold nicknamed “Crow Castle” for its distinctive black walls. Another great attraction is Nakamachi Street, which is lined with old merchant houses reminiscent of a bygone Japan. The Japanese Alps loom overhead, with hot springs, ski runs and hiking trails. In summer, a road to Mount Norikura is carved through deep walls of snow.
Matsumoto is now easily reached all year round and has become one of the country's most cosmopolitan cities. Matsumoto is fast becoming a leading centre for the arts and crafts. The Matsumoto Castle is a wonderful piece of 16th Century design, although be warned, the ceilings are low and the steps are steep, so a little care and attention is needed! The soba and buckwheat noodles in town are famously delicious, served either hot or cold.