During the Edo period (1603-1867) in Japan, Nakamachi Street was located in the center part of the castle town of Matsumoto City thus denoting its name: “Naka” – meaning in or center, and “machi” – meaning town. It was located on the old Zenkoji Kaido, a route connecting Zenkoji Temple to Nagoya and Kyoto and prospered as the main business district where wholesale dealers sold their goods (mainly sake brewers and kimono merchants). Many of the historical buildings found in Nakamachi used to function as storehouses. These buildings are called kura or dozo and some are more than a 100 years old. (See the section on “Kura” for more details).
Presently, Nakamachi has a variety of shops including folk art shops, craft shops and restaurants, and cafes, as well as the Kurassic-kan, which was once a sake brewery building, and the Scale Museum which is housed in a former scale shop. Many of the restaurants allow you to try more local fare.
While you will find that many shops are open into the early evening, please note that a number of shops are closed on Wednesdays. The street runs parallel to Nawate Street, which has the large frog statue at the entrance.
- Hours: 10:00 – 17:00
- Winter Hours: Nov. to Mar. 10:30 – 16:00
The Matsumoto Scale Museum
- Hours: 9:30 – 17:00
- Closed on Mondays and Dec. 29 – 31
- Admission: ¥200 (free for elementary and junior high students)
This small, homely shrine is tucked away on a narrow side street toward the eastern end of Nakamachi. When a big fire broke out in and around Nakamachi, this shrine was believed to have stopped the flames from going beyond it, thus the shrine is considered to house the guardian deity of Nakamachi.
Located across the river from Nakamachi, Nawate Street is a car-free zone lined with small eateries and quirky shops where you can buy trinkets and Japanese-style snacks. The street retains its Edo-style atmosphere and is popular with tourists. You will also find Yohashira Shrine along this street. While many of these shops are also closed on Wednesdays, the atmosphere of the old buildings and shrine makes it worth walking down.
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Soba noodles made in the style of quick and inexpensive “eki soba” (soba shops located in train stations ).
Closed: 2nd and 4th Wed & Thu
A cafe and bric-a-brac store that serves rich, aromatic coffee and generous soft muffins that are definitely worth trying.
Run by a three generation mother, daughter, and grandson (still only one year old) team, who use seasonal ingredients to cook home-style food. Besides local Matsumoto dishes, Ayana also boasts a range of Japanese mushroom and 'sansai' (edible wild plants) ...
Closed: Sun & lunch on Mon
This Japanese-style bar is located in a traditional kura-style building and serves seasonal fish and local specials such as sanzokuyaki (Matsumoto-style fried chicken).
Appealing to mature tastes, this bar specializes in rum, boasting around 250 kinds. Avid jazz lovers will appreciate the music streaming from the JBL speakers while enjoying drinks.
Closed: Thu, 1st & 3rd Wed
A small cafe housed in a 100 year old kura-style building that offers black tea by the pot, hand-dripped coffee, and baked goods. Matsumoto honey & lemon soda, alcohol, and other drinks are also available. Check out the historical building from the inside a...
Closed: Wed in Jan & Feb, New Year’s Day
Relax in the restaurant with its local, Matsumoto folk furniture. Enjoy a meal with chestnut rice or a cup of tea while you take in the Japanese moss garden and its pond. As souvenirs, the chestnut sweets are recommended.
Inspired by the concepts of art and a fun lifestyle, this shop sells craftwork, paintings, and other items by young artists.
Closed: Sun for dinner & Mon
Enjoy Italian food made using a delicious combination of local vegetables and Italian ingredients.
Closed: Open year-round
This shop sells natural stone accessories and Japanese-made made glass accessories.
Run by a wholesaler from Matsumoto Public Market, this shop offers various seasonal fruit items including fruit jelly, fresh juices, crepes, and pancakes. A small space to sit and eat is available.
Closed: Mon & irregularly
Offering handmade soba using 100% local buckwheat for lunch, this shop boasts local sake, rice from the terraced fields of Obasute cooked in a clay pot, along with variety of seasonal dishes in the evening.
Free Rental Cycle
Free bicycle rental is available at Sui Sui Town in the Nakamachi “Kuranoaru” Parking Lot near Kurassic-kan (see the location on the map). Rental hours from 9:00 to 17:00.
Events & Festivals
Ameichi (Candy Festival): Nakamachi's portable shrines go around the streets of Matsumoto. Held on a weekend in early or mid-Jan.
Tenjin Festival: Fukashi Shrine's lively annual festival where traditional wooden floats, including those from Nakamachi, parade through the streets. July 24th and 25th.
Matsumoto Bon Bon: Tens of thousands of people dance on the streets of Matsumoto. The first Sat. of Aug.
Shimin (Citizens’) Festival: A colorful festival with a samurai procession, vehicle free streets, and plenty of street stalls. Nov 3rd.
Farmers from around Matsumoto bring seasonal vegetables, flowers, fruit and fruit juice, edible wild plants, and mushrooms to this morning market. It is very popular as the produce is both fresh and inexpensive and the farmers give the market-goers tips on cooking and pickling.
In 1888, most of Nakamachi burnt down in a big fire. In response, many fire-resistant kura buildings were built to protect the town from fire, which employed a traditional fireproofing method that involved creating very thick walls, anywhere from 20 to 30 centimeters. The walls were treated with a number of layers of mud on the inside, but beautifully designed with a white, mortar grid pattern on black tiles known as namako kabe. While most buildings were used as storehouses, some were occasionally used for residences as well. Even today, many such buildings remain around the Nakamachi area.
Matsumoto has an abundant supply of natural ground water and several old wells can still be found in the city. There are a few wells in Nakamachi and the surrounding neighborhoods including the hand-pump well at Kurassic-kan. The water is safe for drinking. You can check the locations on the guide map, available to download below!
A traditional, Japanese-style bar that serves a variety of food.
This is a small side dish served to all customers at izakaya-style pubs/bars before ordered items are served. It is most often charged for and is a common Japanese practice that functions as a kind of cover charge. It can create trouble for foreigners who don't understand why they have been charged for what they haven't specifically ordered. However, do note, although they may not appeal to everyone’s tastes, even if declined, the charge will still be required as a part of Japanese pub culture.
Buckwheat noodles, famous in Nagano. They can be served as hot noodles, with trimmings such as tempura or edible wild plants, or served chilled on a basket as “Zaru Soba.”
Literally translating to "bandit chicken," sanzokuyaki is a local dish with marinated, chunky, deep-fried chicken.