By Jerome Lee
As a tourism gem in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto has attracted a lot of tourists, both domestic and international. The city offers the beauty of nature and heritage. The location is very strategic, in the center of Honshu island which is the main island of Japan. This not only serves tourism well, but provides a magnificent route that everyone should take while on a trip to Japan.
Nagano Prefecture is located in Chubu region. A region blessed with nature's skyscrapers. Not to be missed, Matsumoto is one of the best stops in Nagano to enjoy the majestic view of nature. Besides the view, Matsumoto also serve as one of the most picturesque castle locations in Japan. This charming castle town is embraced by the Japanese Alps and Utsukushigahara Heights (stands for beautiful plateau). Since this city is on JR East Pass coverage, it is very easy to take a trip from Tokyo.
I was expecting to catch one of the most beautiful castles in Japan. But before I even caught sight of Matsumoto, I was surprised by the wonderful route taken too. It is Shinonoi Line, one of the JR East lines which serves the route from Nagano Station to Matsumoto Station. The journey takes about one and a half hours and it is truly amazing. It was like passing a border into Wonderland.
I first departed from Nagano Station where you will see the urban view fade away, replaced by the scenery of old Japanese houses, farmland, stunning colorful autumn leaves and layers of mountains in the distance. The train keeps running on the line but surprisingly we were heading uphill. The scenery became more and more interesting to see.
On this JR East line, there's always a surprising view to observe. From high up in the countryside, the scenery changes and provides a miniature view of Nagano City as you travel further away. You can see the whole city from the train. This local line also allows you to hop off the train for some minutes to grab some beautiful photos of the surroundings. After passing over the hills, the train descended into a deep, dark tunnel momentarily before emerging on the other side to reveal the snowy mountains.
If you don't have much time, you can still enjoy the view of this route on the limited express, Wide View Shinano. It only takes 50 minutes from Nagano Station to Matsumoto. There are also other ways to reach Matsumoto by JR East Pass: you can also take limited express trains to Matsumoto from Tokyo's Shinjuku Station. The journey by Super Azusa will take about two and half hours and the Azusa makes the journey in about three hours.
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