Yayoi Kusama at Parco de Museum in Matsumoto

This Week in Matsumoto – 3 August 2021

We’re on the road again in ‘This Week in Matsumoto.’

Matsumoto (松本) is the second-largest city in Nagano Prefecture. It is most famous for Matsumoto Castle, a National Treasure of Japan, and one of the twelve remaining original tenshu (main keeps) in Japan. However, there is much to Matsumoto than just its main draw, as you’re about to find out!

Featured image – Parco de Museum: Matsumoto City Museum of Art is currently undergoing renovation until 2022. To make sure visitors to the city get their art fix, they teamed up with department store Parco and launched ‘Parco de Bijutskan’ (art museum) on 3 July 2021. It exhibits a number of works by Japanese contemporary artists including Shunsuke Osone, Aki Nakajima and, of course, Yayoi Kusama. Why ‘of course’? Because Kusama was born in Matsumoto!

Mensho Sakura Miso Ramen in Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan

Mensho Sakura: If that art has made you hungry, you need no more than cross the street in front of Parco to get to the beautiful old kura (tradtional warehouse) building that is home to Mensho Sakura. Nagano Prefecture is famous for its miso, and the miso ramen that they create with that at Mensho Sakura is fantastic.

Matsumoto Brewery Beer Truck in Matsumoto

Matsumoto Brewery: Now, you need to wash down that ramen! Matsumoto Brewery’s excellent beers are there to do the job. This is the Castle Stout – appropriate as Matsumotojo is a black castle. I’m kanpai-ing, the getting the thumbs up back from, the Brewery’s CEO, Kouichi Hayashi.

Shinshu Bartender's Choice at Main Bar Coat in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, Japan

Main Bar COAT: Hayashi-san is a busy man. Here he is just one hour later, scrubbed up and ready to serve his incredible cocktails and fantastic range of whiskies at Main Bar COAT. After a couple of his creations, I tried the Shinshu Bartender’s Choice from Mars Whisky, served in Shinshu (the traditional name for the region) by the bartender whose choice it was! A delectable dram indeed!

Manhole cover in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, Japan

Temari Manhole: As you’re walking around, be sure to look down to catch the local manhole covers (useful advice when travelling across Japan!). In Matsumoto one design features temari, the city’s best-known folk craft. Temari (hand balls) are coloured silk spheres, used initially for handball games. The tradition began 200 years ago in Matsumoto. Over time, they evolved into intricate embroideries, becoming decorative objects, good luck charms and now featured on the city’s manhole covers!

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