Castles and cold noodles – a weekend in Matsumoto!


I’ve always loved the architecture of Japanese castles – the contrast between their simplicity and magnificence. So naturally, from the moment I set foot in Japan I couldn’t wait to visit a castle or two. And a trip to Matsumoto quickly made it to the top of my destination list.

A lot of the castles in Japan are replicas which have been re-built, but Matsumoto castle is largely still the original building. Rising out of its moat and against a blue sky perfectly studded with fluffy clouds, its majestic yet beautiful structure meant I just wanted to sit and soak it all in


And take just a few photos (obviously!)


Matsumoto is famous for its soba noodles so we also timed our visit to the castle so it coincided with the annual soba festival.  


With endless stalls set up in the castle grounds and a very big crowd of hungry locals and Japanese tourists alike, the festival added a real buzz.

Watching the noodles being made was fascinating, and whetted our appetites enough to stand in a very long queue (something it turns out is standard when it comes to Japan and food!) for a bowl.


Until now I’d been merrily boiling pre-packaged soba noodles (sacrilege I know!) but the freshly made soba noodles we sampled converted my from my philistine ways.


If you can time a visit to co-incide with the festival I definitely would as it really added to our trip.


I’ve visited a few castles in Japan since, but I think that Matsumoto remains my favourite. And while it’s often left off the ‘best’ lists (in my view because its a bit out of the way) its definitely worth a visit.

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