A few minutes more or less immediately north of Matsumoto station, Kasamori Inari is a small but pleasant Shinto shrine, worth stopping off at for a quick look on your way to the castle, the town's main attraction.
There are plenty of interesting features in just a small space: a population of guardian komainu wolf-dogs, one pair in plain smooth stone, one pair painted like dolls; at a little side shrine there's a tightly packed row of bright red tori gates, fun to duck under; and at the prayer hall you'll find brightly painted wooden carvings under the eaves. It's always worth looking up when you visit a temple or shrine.
Immediately next to the shrine is Jyorin-ji, a Buddhist temple, which has a very compact but exquisitely landscaped garden, where you can rest and catch your breath by a small pond, enjoying the tranquil atmosphere.
The shrine and temple are close to M-Wing community centre, just three or four minutes' walk north from the east exit of Matsumoto station.
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I came to Japan from Manchester, England in summer 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I`m not working I write satire at www.iothern.blogspot.com and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check my youtube channel `CunningPunster` for a taste.