Discover Matsumoto Part 2: City of spring water, crafts, and bars
After reading the first part of our Discover Matsumoto series, were you perhaps waiting for Part 2? In this part, let us discover more of Matsumoto City (松本市 Matsumoto-shi)! I would like to introduce the attractiveness of Matsumoto under the theme of "Matsumoto, the city of _____".
① City of spring water (湧水の街)
Walking along a watercourse. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
I have always loved Matsumoto since I was little, because spring water flows all over the city. It made me happy when I was little, and now it heals my mind. When you walk along the streets of Matsumoto, you will notice that there are natural springs and wells everywhere. This is the symbol of Matsumoto, the city of spring water.
I also feel refreshed when washing my hands while walking along the city. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
I often see people who cool down by washing their hands with or drinking the water to heal the tiredness of walking around the city. The natural spring water is so cold and delicious, that local people will often fill up several containers to bring back home to use!
Genchi Well. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
The well in this photo, Genchi Well ( 源 池 の 井 戸 Genchi no ido), is said to be the most famous well in the city of Matsumoto. According to the Zenkо̄ji Michimeisho Zue (善光寺道名所図会)—a collection of pictures depicting the sights of Zenkoji roads, and the historic equivalent to a modern-day travel guidebook—Matsumoto has the most famous water in the country, and sake brewers in the city used this water a lot.
Next, I will introduce some shops that have products made using Matsumoto’s delicious spring water.
Metoba Spring in front of Yoikana Brewery. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
First up is Yoikana Brewery (善哉酒造 Yoikana Shuzо̄). In front of the store, there is a spring called Metoba Spring (女鳥羽の泉 Metoba no Izumi), the source of which is comes from 30m underground. It is said to be the famous water that is still used for preparing sake today.
Sakes made using spring water. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
The brewery produces a sake that uses this famous water, which is also named “Metoba no Izumi”, after the spring which provides the water.
Yoikana Brewery (善哉酒造)
Address: 5-4-24 О̄te, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano 390-0874
Access: 20-minute walk from JR Matsumoto Station.
Business hours: 08:30–17:00 (Closed on Sundays, Public Holidays, 31 December–03 January, 13–16 August)
The next place I would like to introduce is Matsumoto Brewery (松本ブルワリー). Although there are delicious craft beers in various places all over Nagano Prefecture, the craft beer from Matsumoto Brewery uses delicious water as its water source, as well as locally grown crops such as hops, wheat and fruit.
Matsumoto Brewery. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
In order to try out this delicious beer, I visited the Matsumoto Brewery Tap Room. There is a terrace area at this store, and I was able to drink craft beer while having a resort-like experience. The difference from tropical resorts is the fresh air carried by the cool autumn breeze.
Cheers! (Image credit: JR East / Yuya Kumazaki)
I'm not very good with beer, but luckily, they had half-sized portions. With such a pleasant breeze I was able to enjoy the atmosphere and drank two glasses of standard classic pale ale and a limited-edition fruity drink called “Sunny Cide Up”, which was made using apples and hо̄zuki (ほおずき cape gooseberry).
Tasty half-sized beers. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
The beers had sophisticated flavours, but they were very easy to drink, and made me want to come back to this place again.
Matsumoto Brewery Tap Room – Media Garden (松本ブルワリーTAPルーム本町店)
Address: 3F Shinmai Media Garden, 2-20-2 Chūо̄, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano 390-0811
Access: 8-minute walk from JR Matsumoto Station.
Business hours: 11:00–22:00 (Closed on Wednesdays)
The exterior of Matsumoto Brewery Tap Room Nakamachi. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
Matsumoto Brewery also has another other store—the head office on Nakamachi Street (中町通 Nakamachi-Dо̄ri).
Matsumoto Brewery Tap Room – Nakamachi (松本ブルワリーTAPルーム中町店)
Address: 3-4-21 Chūо̄, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano 390-0811
Access: 15-minute walk from JR Matsumoto Station.
Business hours: 13:00–19:00 (Closed on Tuesdays)
② City of crafts (工芸の街)
Fine wooden furniture is crafted in Matsumoto. (Image credit: Matsumoto City)
Matsumoto is also famous for its crafts, in particular wooden furniture. Matsumoto furniture (松本家具 Matsumoto kagu) is a representative craft of the region, and is well-known not just for the beautiful wood that it uses, but also for the traditional techniques used in crafting the furniture. Since Matsumoto is a castle town, various craftsmen gathered here during the Edo Period (1603–1868), and it is believed that the craftsmanship that lead to the crafts of today were developed from those times. Nagano Prefecture has an abundant supply of wood, and the region of Matsumoto is blessed with good conditions for wood-crafting, as it has dry air throughout the year.
The exterior of Coffee Marumo. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
How about having breakfast while appreciating Matsumoto furniture? For this I visited Coffee Marumo (珈琲まるも Kо̄hī Marumo).
Coffee Marumo is filled with Matsumoto furniture and folk-art crafts. (Image Credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
The shop was designed and opened by the founder of the Matsumoto Mingei Kagu (松本民芸家具 a company that makes Matsumoto furniture), and the store is decorated with Matsumoto furniture and folk-art items. Regular customers and tourists can enjoy breakfast sets in the store’s elegant and spacious interior.
Tasty bread and coffee. (Image Credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara (left) and Kaoru Otani (right))
My buddy, who has always been interested in Coffee Marumo’s breakfast set, really enjoyed the breakfast set when she finally got to try it. The honey toast recommendation on the sign at the store’s entrance caught my eye, so I ordered that. The set’s toasted bread is made at a famous bakery in the area. The bread itself was large, and crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside. It was soaked with honey, and the crunchy texture of walnuts was irresistibly delicious.
I highly recommend visiting this cafe when you are in Matsumoto, it is only a short walk from Matsumoto Castle.
Coffee Marumo (珈琲まるも)
Address: 3-3-10 Chūо̄, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano 390-0811
Access: 15-minute walk from JR Matsumoto Station.
Business hours: 9:00–16:00
③ City of bars (バーの街)
Bars dot the streets of Matsumoto City. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
I feel that Matsumoto is a city in Nagano Prefecture that never sleeps. There are many dining options, so you don't have to worry about where to eat or drink. Many people also go to bars for a second or third round. To be honest, I wasn't very familiar with bars, but when I went drinking with people who lived in Matsumoto in their 20s, everyone introduced bars. Each bar had its own uniqueness, but while the cosy atmospheres made me want to go back again, I also wanted to try out new bars the next time I visited Matsumoto.
When I looked up Matsumoto’s bars on the internet, I often see the phrase "Matsumoto, the city of bars". This is a culture built up by bar-owners who want Matsumoto to be known as a bar city, and I think that people who love "Matsumoto, the city of bars" are enjoying a new culture by spreading its good points.
The entrance of MAIN BAR COAT. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
There are more than 20 bars in Matsumoto, but this time, I decided to go to MAIN BAR COAT, the bar that symbolises this city of bars. When I went up the stylish stairs and entered the bar, there was a calm atmosphere and it seemed as though I had slipped back in time.
We had a hard time decide what to drink. (Image credit: JR East / Yuya Kumazaki)
I was at a loss because there were many options on the menu, but I ended up ordering a drink using grapes from Nagano Prefecture, while my friend ordered pear champagne.
Enjoying our fresh, fruity drinks. (Image credit: JR East / Kaoru Otani)
In both drinks, we felt the fresh fruitiness unique to the bar, and drank them slowly to fully enjoy their flavours. The fun of visiting the bar is drinking while talking to the manager. I could feel the appeal of Matsumoto when he told us that some people visit Matsumoto to go bar-hopping, sometimes up to five or six bars, because air is delicious. Also, he told me cold water is spring water.
A sophisticated drink. (Image credit: JR East / Satoru Ota)
The whisky on the rocks that my other friend ordered was shining like a jewel, and made me want to come back again someday to try it.
MAIN BAR COAT (メインバーコート)
Address: 2F 3-5 Chūо̄, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano 390-0811
Access: 6-minute walk from JR Matsumoto Station.
Business hours: 18:00–01:00 (Closed on Sundays)
Rows of storehouses on Nakamachi Street. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
Have you noticed anything about the exterior of the stores in this article? Most of them are made of clay and are generally called kura (蔵 storehouses). They are made with thick, fireproof walls to protect valuable items from theft and natural disasters. It is said that Matsumoto suffered a big fire from the end of the Edo Period to the Meiji Era, and about 1,500 homes disappeared. It was terrible.
It is also said that many merchants learnt lessons from this great fire, and built storehouses in order to protect their products from fires. Nowadays, a mix old stores and new cafes are lined up to make walking around the city more enjoyable. When you come to Matsumoto, please look for your favourite warehouses and stores.
JR EAST Welcome Center MATSUMOTO. (Image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara)
If you visit Nagano, please come to JR EAST Welcome Center MATSUMOTO, a counter exclusively for foreign tourists. It is located just in front of the ticket gate of JR Matsumoto Station.
Header image credit: JR East / Chie Matsubara
- Discover Matsumoto Part 1: The charms of Matsumoto Castle and Tanabata dolls
- Shiojiri, the centre of Nagano: Enjoy history, nature and wine!
- Hakuba in summer Part 1: Full of Nature’s blessings
Chie can drive trains, but she's not good at driving cars, so she enjoys travelling by public transportation. Chie wants to share information on Nagano from the same perspective as tourists.