I fell in love with Matsumoto right away, even before I saw its famous castle Karasu-jo. It was a very calm, clean, and beautiful place and I understood my fellow artists who’d moved to Matsumoto – it was a quiet place with a leisurely life, just perfect for creative work!
Unlike big cities, there are no trains or trams in Matsumoto, and the only form of public transport is the city bus. Matsumoto's buses are unusual – they have dotted red and white prints, a design style created by the famous artist Yayoi Kusama, a citizen of Matsumoto. Some of her works are on display at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art.
The city center is easily accessible on foot. In Matsumoto you will not find tall buildings -- most commonly there are two, three or five-storied houses and some of them are old but well-preserved. One quite noticeable building a is small book shop located in an old house, sandwiched between two newer ones. Other houses are home to restaurants and art galleries. The old houses are a reminder of the Edo period, when Matsumoto developed under the Tokugawa shogunate. My favorite doll shop Bell Ami is located in that district. It also acts as a studio, as they produce traditional oshie dolls and paper dolls.
Another interesting spot is the Nawate trade street, which stretches along the Metoba River. Along Nawate Street you can see many different images of frogs, and the street even hosts an annual Frog Festival. Another famous festival of Matsumoto is the Taiko (Japanese drums) Grand Festival, held annually at the end of July. On usual days outside of these festival periods, the streets of Matsumoto are almost deserted. Walking along the streets of Matsumoto, I found many wells with pure water that can be used for purification as well as for drinking. The Matsumoto district is also a popular region for onsens, and they are my favorite places for relaxation.
The quiet atmosphere of Matsumoto is supported by its magnificent surroundings – the Hida Mountain Range can be seen from any place in the city. By late evening, Matsumoto soaks into darkness and walking on streets with few passers by doesn’t feel comfortable except for some illuminated areas such as around JR Matsumoto Station. The station area contains numerous shops and restaurants.