- Worship The Frog God On“Nawate-dori”
- 【Nawate-dori】Four Recommended Stores
- Hand-Cooked Rice Crackers At Raijindo
- Taiyaku Furusato
- Frog Store - RiBBiT
- DowntowShopping Street “Nakamachi-Dori” Comes With A Warehouse
- 【Nakamachi-dori】Four Recommended Stores
- Handicraft Guild - Suguri
- Ihara Lacquerware Speciality Store
- Matsumoto Bewery Taproom Nakamachi Branch
- Access and Parking
Nagano Prefecture is surrounded by fantastic scenery, and is located right in the middle of Japan. Have you heard of the wonderful shopping districts in Matsumoto City, the heart of the prefecture?
These historical shopping streets are known as “Nawate-dori” and “Nakamachi-dori”. These two districts that run alongside the Metoba river are located within a 10 minute walk from Matsumoto Castle, and this location makes the area highly accessible. Although these two shopping districts are only a three minute walk apart, they appeal to completely different tastes. We took a walk through town in order to unravel the mysteries and charms of these two areas. We’ll show you our favorite shops that we found along the way.
Read more about Matsumoto Castle's history, architecture and events↓↓
Matsumoto Castle: A Tour of Japan's Oldest Castle Keep of its Kind
Worship The Frog God On“Nawate-dori”
Nawate-Dori Is Filled With Retro Style Buildings
The Nawate-dori shopping district is a pedestrian zone throughout the day. The street is built on a long narrow riverbank, and the street also serves as a path to Yohashira Shrine, which was built in 1879. When looking at the street from the nearby Metoba River, you will feel the retro charm of the Showa style housing that remains to this day. It’s as if you’ve gone back in time!
Origins of the “Frog Street”
Kaeru Daimyojin, Located In the Middle of Nawate-dori
While walking on Nawate-dori, you will see frog motifs all around you...frog statues, signboards, merchandise...what’s the deal?
Nawate-dori used to be inhabited by Kajika frogs. However, there was a period where the river flooded over, destroying the frog habitat and popularity of the street for a time.
In 1940, the “Kaeru Daimyojin” was enshrined. The city came together around the idea of “once again bringing clean water and a lively street back to the area.'' Ad-hoc shops built like festival stalls began to be built in 2001. You can find many different kinds of stores lining this street.
The frog has become a beloved symbol of “rebirth”, “return”, and “change” in this area.
Shinto Archway at Yohashira Temple. You Can Enter The Temple From Nawate-Dori
The Yohashira Temple located on the north side of Nawate-dori is known as the home of the “God Who Grants Wishes”, and is a destination for those who want their desires to come true. Inside the temple grounds stands a pine tree for creating romantic bonds. The tall shinto archway leaves quite an impression. Food to hand out to the pigeons that visit Yohashira Temple is also available for sale at the entrance of the temple.
【Nawate-dori】Four Recommended Stores
You can find retro toy stores, hardware stores, and take-away food stores all throughout Nawate-dori - these attractions remind visitors of this street’s historical roots. We will introduce you to stores that are full of Japanese aesthetics that perfectly match the vibe of Nawate-dori.
Hand-Made Senbei At Raijindo
A Diverse Array Of Senbei Are On Display
”Raijindo” is a senbei, or rice cracker shop. The inscription on the banner outside the shop reads “Freshly Made Senbei”. The main store is located in Sugamo, Tokyo - this is the only store of its kind in Nagano prefecture.
The most popular senbei at the store is the “nurekari”. Raijindo’s senbei is made by breaking apart freshly made senbei and applying seasoning. Two different types of soy sauce are used on the inside and outside of the senbei, creating a unique and dynamic texture.
Senbei Using Shinshu Miso, Only Available At The Nawate-Dori Store
This senbei that uses Shinshu Miso can only be bought at this store. There are many other types of senbei as well - make sure to pick one up!
At this store, you can take your senbei to go. The senbei is placed in a crepe-like container, keeping it slightly warm. Each senbei is made one by one by the store owner. The thickness and crispiness of the senbei gives it an amazing consistency that will keep you coming back for more.
The creation of senbei requires close attention to make sure they do not burn - as a result, the store owner makes the senbei after the store is closed. Please make sure to give these senbei a try!
Select Japanese-Style Shop “~Warai~”. Various Japanese Goods Are For Sale
”~Warai~” is a stylish select Japanese-goods store. This store came from the Japanese-paper specialty store “Kamiyakata Shimayu” and was opened in 2010.
Various Styles Of Hand Towels, Including Warai Originals
The main product here is “tenugui”, or hand towels. The hand towels here are imported from a Tokyo specialty store, “Kamawanu”. Not only are Japanese-style patterns available, but season themes such as Christmas or snowman patterns, as well as flower and animal hand towels are also on sale.
Hand towels designed for the annual “Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival (Formerly the Saito Kinen Festival) are available here, and sport music and Matsumoto City-themed patterns. The designs of these hand towels change every year.
Sweet Snacks Are Wrapped Inside Matsumoto Castle-Themed “Mamegui”
We also recommend “Matsumoto Castle Mamegui”. The Mamegui are small packages of candies wrapped in a Matsumoto Castle-themed towel. In the summer heat, the quality of these sweets cannot be preserved - small Japanese paper dolls are placed inside instead.
Images such as Matsumoto Castle’s “Tsukimi Yagura” are depicted in detail on these products, making them a perfect souvenir from Matsumoto.
Inside the store, Shimayu products are laid out, as well as Ito-san’s -- the store owner’s -- favorite items.
Bags, perfume, and pouches with funny sayings, all made by Judo uniform manufacturer, are available here.
The Lovely Signboard Of ”Taiyaki Furusato”
This popular, store, which is rare for making their taiyaki one by one, is constantly pulling in customers.
When making taiyaki, usually there are several taiyaki slots on a large iron plate, and the dough is poured into them. These taiyaki are is baked “one by one” as the name implies. This is one of the draws of Taiyaki Furusato.
Not Many Stores Make Their Taiyaki One By One
This is the kind of tool that is used. The taiyaki, dough and bean paste are cooked with this.
The timing for when to flip over each taiyaki is very precise. Each taiyaki is delicious, but none of them are the same.
There are plenty of flavors available, ranging from sweets such as anko, custard, chocolate, to more outlandish varieties such as wiener sausage.
Taiyaki Being Made
This time we tried the “anko” flavor. It is freshly baked and makes a crispy sound while eating. Anko has quite a full taste, but it's not too sweet so you can eat as much as you like. Even after cooling down a bit, it stays crispy all the way to the tail, keeping you happy until the last bite. These homemade anko can be bought in bulk.
Taiyaki Furusato was founded in 1946.The current owner inherited the store from the previous, and continues to inherit the original taste. The store will be reopened in the summer of 2019, and you will be able to relax with taiyaki and drinks at the newly renovated counter.
Frog Store - RiBBiT
”Frog Store - RiBBiT” Is Full Of Frog-Themed Goods
When thinking of Nawate-dori, you think of frogs. This is a perfect place for “Frog Store - RiBBiT”. You’ll find nothing but frog themed goods here.
Everything Is Frogs!
Figurines, picture postcards, stickers, straps ... a diverse variety of frogs, from realistic to cartoonized, are available. It is said that the owner, Wada, has set up informants all over the country. If they find frog goods, he will go to Tokyo, Hokkaido, and overseas to purchase them.
Realistic But Cute Colored Frog Ornaments
You might have realized at this point that the owner loves frogs. He seems to have volunteered for the street’s yearly “Frog Festival” that is held on the street. The director of the festival at the time said, “If you like frogs so much, why don’t you start your own store?” This lead to the eventual opening of the store.
Surrounded by his favorite things, the owner enjoys spending everyday interacting with tourists shopping in the street. The frogs of Nawate-dori brought him to his place.
Castle-town Shopping Street “Nakamachi-Dori”
Nakamachi-Dori Is The “Street with a Warehouse”
Nakamachi-dori is a shopping street located across the Toba River. For its rows of old storehouses, this street was eventually known as “warehouse street” -- but how did it come to be?
History of “Nakamachi”, The Street With A Warehouse
Nakamachi-dori is located along the Zenko-ji Highway, and used to host many different wholesale stores. It is said that many of these houses were destroyed by the great fire of 1888 in the Meiji period.
Dozo-Built “Namako Wall”
Many of the houses that remained standing were hese clay-built warehouses. To protect their products, many store owners began to rebuild their buildings in the same style as those warehouses.
”Nakamachi Kurashikkukan”, Landmark Of Nakamachi-dori
Freely Explore the “Nakamachi Kurashikkukan”
"Nakamachi Kurashikkukan" is located in the middle of Nakamachi-dori. This building is known as a symbol of Nakamachi Street.
This building was originally a liquor store called "Tairei Shuzo”. This building has a main house, a warehouse, and a detached house. Even after a store relocation and renewal, the ceiling beams and parlors of the atrium have been left as is.
These Beams Were Designed By Predecessors To Stand Up To Earthquakes
The museum is free to tour and can be used for conferences, events and exhibitions. The plaza space is open for a market every Wednesday from 15:00 to evening (May to December), where you can buy vegetables from farmers.
There is a rowboat pump well in front of the facility that is available to be used as well. This cold, 15 degree water has a soft quality that is perfect for making coffee or tea. The storehouse of Nakamachi Kurashikkukan, “Chobo”, has turned into a coffee shop that sources its water from a well.
【Nakamachi-dori】Four Recommended Stores
Nakamachi-dori is a street where old and new coexist. A modern cafe in a traditional warehouse is a good example of this. Here are four stylish and modern shops where you can experience this contrast.
Baumkuchen Specialty Store - “Temariya”
Temariya is a Baumkuchen specialty store, located in a storehouse building with vibrant red curtains. This shop started with the desire to "make delicious foods using local Matsumoto products". Rice flour is used instead of normal wheat flour. This store is focused on “local production for local consumption”. The rice flour is sourced locally too, from within Nagano Prefecture.
You Can See Baumkuchen Being Made At The Rear Of the Store
The inside of the store resembles more of a studio than a shop. Baumkuchen is baked non-stop in the back.
The trained craftsmen, including the manager, Suzuki, bake this baumkuchen. Temariya's baumkuchen have a unique shape and a delicious taste. The number of craftsmen who can cook baumkuchen like this are quite limited - making fantastic baumkuchen requires rigorous checking of the temperature and dough condition.
Popular Hardstyle Baumkuchen “Arupusu”
The most popular of this store’s baumkuchen is the "Arupusu(Alps)". This baumkuchen has a crispy outside and fluffy inside, with a fantastic butter scent and taste. Giving it a cook in the microwave or toaster will give it a different kind of flavour.
Other popular items are the classic soft "Minori" and the sphere-shaped "Temarin". The Temarin baumkuchen is very popular and needs a waiting list to purchase. Its supply is scarce in the storefront, so we recommend having it delivered through the store website.
Handicraft Guild - Suguri
”Handicraft Guild - Suguri” Is Found In A Winding Alley
"Handicraft Guild - Suguri" stands at the end of a narrow alley. It is a general store that has been remodeled from a warehouse that was originally a pickle store.
At The Front Of The Store Are Original Brand “Tabi Suru Paper” Products
There are a variety of products available, including vegetable-dyed threads and Temari balls, as well as pottery, clothes, and accessories. All of these items are handmade works both from within and out of Nagano Prefecture.
On the second floor, which is used as a gallery, works by different artists are displayed every month. It is possible to purchase the works on display here, and visitors often come back again and again.
Temari Made With Natural Ingredients
You can experience the production of Temari balls at an artist-led workshop. The "Makimaki Workshop", which can be enjoyed easily, is recommended for all kinds of visitors. You can make your own colorful Temari ball keychain by winding the threads into a pattern.
The products lined up near the entrance are the shop’s original brand, called “Tabi Suru Kami”. The sweets in this cute box with a ptarmigan bird design were selected as a representative gift of Nagano Prefecture in a magazine. Additionally, you can purchase postcards, stamps, tape, and other items designed with Matsumoto's landscape.
Make sure to stop by for Matsumoto souvenirs, or something for yourself!
Ihara Lacquerware Speciality Store
Signboard of “Ihara Shikki Specialty Store” Adorned With Lions and Peonies
"Ihara Lacquerware Specialty Store" was founded in 1907 during the Meiji period. They handle lacquerware from places all over Japan, including Kiso, Yamanaka, Aizu and Echizen. This historical shop on Nakamachi-dori features a distinct signboard with a lion and peony flower.
Lacquerware is thought to be expensive or hard to maintain, but the shop has many reasonable items that can be used everyday. There are also many chic and modern designs in stock. You can wash these items with dishwasher detergent as long as you do not put them in the machine itself.
Visiting this store changed our image of lacquerware. This is thanks to the hard work of the store owner, Sasaki-san. He has worked to modify the store layout and stock to change the image of lacquerware.
Colorful Lacquerware Cups Are Available Here
Lacquer ware is usually thought of as being either red or black, but this shop also has colorful lacquerware with pink and blue designs. There are many different kinds of lacquerware as well: cups with handles, spoons and other Western-style shapes, as well as cute mini-lunchboxes.
This store will also teach you how to use lacquerware. We were surprised to find out that a lacquerware soup bowl could also be used for salads and desserts. Multi-tiered boxes typically used for New Year’s Dishes are also available all year, as foreign visitors purchase these and use them for all sorts of purposes.
Japanese Soup Bowls and Multi-Tier Boxes On Display
"There is no point in buying it if you’re not going to use it," said the owner. It is thanks to the owner’s efforts to adapt to the times’ needs and customers, that Ihara has continued to be a beloved lacquerware store.
The sight of the shop owner taking time to actively explain lacquerware to foreign customers was fantastic. We definitely recommend this shop to lacquerware beginners.
Matsumoto Brewery Taproom Nakamachi Branch
Open From 1PM to 7PM
"Matsumoto Brewery Tap Room Nakamachi Branch" is located off the main street of Nakamachi. This store directly sells Matsumoto's first craft beer from Matsumoto Brewery.
You can stand and drink at the bar on the first floor, while the second floor has table seats. You can easily drop in to have some fun. This satellite shop informs all of its customers about Matsumoto Brewery's beer, and provides simple snacks to customers. They have enough a variety that everybody is bound to find their favorite brew.
Meet Some New Friends At The First Floor Bar
There are five kinds of drinks you can drink at the store, both standard and seasonal. The Bottled beer can be purchased as souvenirs at different stores in Matsumoto City, but only three stores (two direct outlets of Matsumoto brewery, and Miyosawa Liquor Store) carry the entire selection.
”Matsumoto Traditional Bitter” Standard Brew
This time, we had the standard brew: “Matsumoto Traditional Bitter”. This beer is characterized by a small amount of foam. This beer allows you to taste both the bitterness of the beer and the flavor of the wheat.
In addition, there is a black beer inspired by Matsumoto Castle, and fruity beers that use autumnal niagara grapes and apples, providing many different options for flavors.
The store has many local fans and overseas beer fans. This bar loves Matsumoto, and Matsumoto loves it back. The bar has some unusual operating hours, being open from 13:00 to 19:00. Why don't you stop by for a drink during your sightseeing?
How To Access These Two Streets
The two shopping streets can be reached by a 3-minute walk from the nearby parking lot. We recommend using this parking lot on Nakamachi Street when visiting by car. In addition, using the “Town Sneakers” Matsumoto tour bus, or the free rental bicycle service, "Suisui Town", you can easily get to the streets from the station.
Matsumoto Station - 10 Minutes
Matsumoto Tour Bus “Town Sneaker” Eastern Course (For Nakamachi/Agata Forest)
8:40 - 20:00 Departs Every 20 Minutes
Middle Schoolers And Above: ¥200
Elementary Schoolers; ¥100
※1 Day All You Can RIde Ticket - Adults ¥500、Children ¥250
From Matsumoto Station - 5 Minutes
From Matsumoto IC 10 - Minutes
Local Parking Information
＜Street With A Warehouse Nakamachi Parking Lot＞
Street With A Warehouse Nakamachi Parking Lot
・Fee：1 Hour ¥300（19:00～8:00 Next Day Has A Max Fee Of ¥800）
※Available From 9:00～
＜Matsumoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry Nakamachi Parking Lot＞
Matsumoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry Nakamachi Parking Lot
・Fee：9:00～19:00 20 Minutes ¥100 / 19:00～9:00 30 Minutes ¥100
※19:00～9:00 Next Day Has A Max Fee Of ¥800
＜Kura No Machi Parking＞
Kura No Machi Parking
・Fee：9:00～19:00 30 Minutes ¥100 / 19:00～9:00 60 Minutes ¥100
※19:00～9:00 Next Day Has A Max Fee Of ¥800
＜Matsumoto Castle Ootemon Parking Lot＞
Matsumoto Castle Ootemon Parking Lot
・Fee：30 Minutes ¥150
※22:00～ 8:30 Next Day Max Fee of ¥1030
The Small-town Warmth of the Two Shopping Streets
In the castle town of Matsumoto, two shopping streets with two completely different vibes face each other across the river. Both are within walking distance, so be sure to stop by both to see each of them.
Nawate-dori and Nakamachi-dori have different historyies and stores, but both are warm shopping streets full of humanity.