Matsumoto

Matsumoto's main attraction to visitors is its superb 16th century castle, Japan's oldest still standing, which dominates the city centre. Visitors are welcome to wander the ancient multi-storied building, and explore the moon-viewing tower as well as the fascinating collection of old guns which is housed in the main keep. The surrounding area pleasantly mixes ancient and modern, and the old Nakamachi-dori and the interestingly frog-themed Nawate-dori feature beautifully restored buildings that now house sake breweries, soba shops, potteries, French cafes, and trendy bars.

Situated on the Azusa River's floodplain, just below the rugged and often snow-capped peaks of the Japan Alps, Matsumoto's clear air and sweeping scenery makes the city an ideal summer destination, and its proximity to some of Japan's best ski hills, as well as its excellent onsen, make it an ideal place to visit pre or après ski.