If you are interested in the history of Japan, then you cannot miss the chance to visit Nagano city. In this historic district, ninjas and warlords familiar from games and manga lived and played an active role hundreds of years ago. Facing rivers and backed up by mountains, Matsushiro has been a strategic stronghold since the warring states period in the 16th century. After the Tokugawa Shogunate restored peace and stability to Japan, the Sanada clan – who had the best warriors – was sent to Matsushiro and ruled the domain for more than 200 years. Matsushiro nowadays is a scenic small town dotted with samurai residences and relics of the past.

Matsushiro Castle Ruins

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Although the original burned down, a castle town comprised of more than 100,000 stones stands strong around Matsushiro Castle. You can visit the castle gate, wooden bridge, stone wall, earthwork and castle moat. You can imagine yourself walking among powerful samurai.

Hours: 9am – 5pm Admission: Free
Access: 30 min by bus from JR Nagano Station, get off at Matsushiro Station bus stop and walk another 5 min
Address: 44 Matsushiro, Matsushiro-machi, Nagano-shi

Sanada Treasures Museum

When talking about the Sanada clan, one may be most familiar with Sanada Yukimura, who is known as “the number one warrior in Japan” during the warring states period. The museum’s exhibits and tell a lively story of the Sanada clan over the past 400 years. Visitors could put on replica armors and pose for fun pictures.

Hours: 9am – 5pm (Last admission 4:30pm) Closed: Tue & Late Jun
Admission: 300 yen (adults), 120 yen (elementary & junior high school students) *Fee may vary when special exhibitions are held.
Access: 30 min by bus from JR Nagano Station, get off at Matsushiro Station bus stop and walk another 3 min
Address: 4-1 Matsushiro, Matsushiro-machi, Nagano-shi

Matsushiro Rental Cycle

Bicycles are very convenient when going around Matsushiro City and you can even rent one. Rental centers are at the following places; Matsushiro Tourist Information Center and Matsushiro Walking Center as well as other location.

Matsushiro Tourist Information Center
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm (bicycle return until 4:30pm)
Rental fee: 300 yen
Address: 4-1, Matsushiro, Matsushiro-machi, Nagano-shi

Matsushiro Machi-Aruki Center
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Rental fee: 500 yen (half day), 1,000 yen (a day)
Address: 577, Matsushiro, Matsushiro-machi, Nagano-shi

Rokumonsen emblem

The Sanada Family’s coat of arms was Rokumonsen, literally six coins. You can see many Rokumonsen emblems around Matsushiro.

 

 

 

Bunbu Gakko (Samurai School)

The Matsushiro Bunbu Gakko was a Samurai School for the sons of the powerful Sanada
clan. * From 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020, due to construction, the entire building will be
closed.

Access: 30 min by bus from JR Nagano Station, get off at Matsushiro Station bus stop and walk another 5 min
Address: 205-1 Matsushiro, Matsushiro-machi, Nagano-shi

The Battlefield of Kawanakajima

Located about four kilometers from Matsushiro, Kawanakajima was one of the most famous battlefields during the Warring States period, during which Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin battled fiercely for control of this strategic stronghold. There is a statue depicting the legendary duel between Shingen and Kenshin in the battle of Kawanakajima.

Admission: Free
Access: 10 min by taxi from Matsushiro Station bus stop
Address: 1384-1 Oshimada-machi, Nagano-shi

Zozan Shrine

Zozan is a shrine built in memory of Sakuma Zozan, who was a prominent scholar during the late Edo period. You can also buy chiemochi, a local delicacy which is rumoured to increase intelligence.

Access: 30 min by bus from JR Nagano Station, get off at Matsushiro Station bus stop and walk another 10 min
Address: 1502 Matsushiro, Matsushiro-machi, Nagano-shi

★Culture Experience Sanada Residence

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Built in 1864 as the residence for the lord’s mother-in-law, the Sanada Residence is a fine example of traditional Japanese architecture and garden. Thanks to a volunteer group dedicated to preserving the cultural assets of Matsushiro, occasionally tourists can try playing Koto (a traditional stringed music instrument) or Kirigami (paper cutting) in one of the old warehouses.

Hours: 9am – 5pm (Last admission 4:30pm)
Admission: 200 yen (adults), 80 yen (elementary & junior high school students)
Access: 30 min by bus from JR Nagano Station, get off at Matsushiro Station bus stop and walk another 5 min
Address: 1 Matsushiro, Matsushiro-machi, Nagano-shi

★Culture Experience Koto Experience

The Koto is a stringed instrument iconic to Japan. Women in Matsushiro have been learning the Koto for generations. Here, tourists can also experience playing the Koto.

★Culture Experience Play fan tossing at The former Higuchi family residence

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The former Higuchi family residence is a typical residence of an upper class samurai in Matushiro. NPO manages the building and holds exhibitions and event from time to time. For example, you can try Tosenkyo (a fan tossing game). Two people play against each other by tossing an opened folding fan to the target. The aim is not only to hit the target, but also do it gracefully, as the score is determined by the situation among the fan, the target, and the box.

Hours: 9am – 5pm
Admission: Free
Access: 30 min by bus from JR Nagano Station, get off at Matsushiro Station bus stop and walk another 10 min
Address: 202-1 Matsushiro, Matsushiro-machi, Nagano-shi

Rokumonsen (6 coins)  “walk and eat” ticket
This ticket can be bought for 600 yen and exchanged at Matsushiro specialty shops for 3 to 6 items. There are about 12 to 15 participating shops in town making this a very good deal! When walking around Matsushiro, be sure to to try many local specialties such as oyaki (Japanese dumpling) and senbei (rice crackers).

Rokumonsen “walk and eat” ticket 600 yen Place to purchase the ticket
Matsushiro Tourist Information Center
Address: 577 Matsushiro, Matsushiro-machi, Nagano-shi

Higurashi-an

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If trying local food ranks high on your list, this is the place to be. Utilizing old samurai residence built in the end of Edo era, Higurashi-an serves tasty set meals featuring Matsushiro’s specialty Nagaimo yam. Miso-flavored grated yam has a sticky texture and goes well with barley rice and soba noodles.

Hours: 11am – 2:30pm (Last order 2pm), Sat, Sun & Hoilday 11am – 3pm (Last order 2:30pm) Closed: Tue
Access: 30 min by bus from JR Nagano Station, get off at Matsushiro Station bus stop and walk another 3 min
Address: 190-2 Matsushiro, Matsushiro-machi, Nagano-shi

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