Matsumoto and the Japanese Alps

For our second post we thought we’d tell you a bit about our new town in Japan. About 2 and a half hours from Tokyo by train, Matsumoto is a cute little town nestled in the Japanese Alps. It’s the perfect place for people who love the outdoors as it is surrounded by mountains, some over 3000 m a.s.l. It’s main attraction is it’s castle. Built in 1592, it is one of only five castles in Japan that are classed as a national treasure. It’s a great place to base yourself for a few days to enjoy a different pace of life after visiting some of the bigger cities in Japan. We’ve really enjoyed being able to explore Matsumoto and the surrounding area. It’s such a peaceful place where even in the city you feel you can connect with nature thanks to the mountain views and the sparse street lighting at night.

Some of the most popular nearby hiking destinations are easily accessible by public transport. These include Kamikochi, Norikura and the Nakasendo trail. Here we’ll provide a brief introduction to each these places and over the next few days we’ll include longer blog posts about each one, to help you plan your trip.

 

Kamikochi

Located within the Chubu Sangaku National Park, and the highest mountain range in Japan, Kamikochi is a popular place to visit. Hikes can include a gentle stroll along the river, where you can enjoy views of the towering mountains and look out for monkeys. Along the length of the river you can find restaurants, public toilets, hotels and campsites, making it a nice day out for all the family.

It you prefer to push your self further, there are numerous peaks you can summit from Kamikochi, with mountain huts meaning you can spread the hike over a couple of days.

Azusa river

Norikura

Our favourite place for a hike. Easy to get to but in our experience less crowded with tourists tan Kamikochi. Here you have two options. 1) Enjoy the numerous trails around the forests and waterfalls, or 2) get a bus to close to the mountain peak (2,700 m) to enjoy the views from above and wonder around meltwater lakes. From here you can hike to the summit at 3026m. This is a great hike if you want to experience high altitude without too much effort.

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Yabuhara to Narai, the Nakasendo trail

The Nakasendo trail was the old postal path between Tokyo and Kyoto during the Edo period. Now, parts of it have been preserved and you can walk through deep forests and mountain passes between traditional villages. From Matsumoto, the easiest part of the trail to get to is between Yabuhara and Narai.

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