28 Jun 2017 in In immersion
Be carried away by the sounds of musicians playing at a private concert, in a remarkable architectural setting just minutes from Matsumoto Castle.
Matsumoto is a city located in central Japan, in the Nagano Prefecture, well known for having hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998. Matsumoto is famous not only for its music festival, but also for its many restaurants specialized in soba, noodles made with buckwheat, a widely-grown crop in this region.
Hoshino Resorts KAI Matsumoto is only fifteen minutes by taxi from the train station. The architecture is very unique and easy recognizable because of its unusual and very attractive towers. The lobby is quite imposing, combining reception desk, bar and shop, and in the evenings it is also used as a concert hall.
Modernity and tradition
Despite its modern appearance, the hotel is essentially an authentic ryokan. The moment you step out of the lift to go to your room, you start to appreciate the ambiance, with wood everywhere and a succession of sliding doors that provide privacy.
All the rooms are furnished in accordance with the codes of Japanese interior design, with restraint and simplicity. Tatami mats cover the floors, and a low table and two seats are the only furniture, leaving room for a futon mattress at night.
The hotel is clearly an ideal place for rest and relaxation, notably with its two onsens, those famous traditional baths widely appreciated for the health benefits of their thermal waters. Hoshino Resorts KAI Matsumoto has indoor and outdoor baths, as well as a sauna where you could relax yourself in a very peaceful way.
Let the music play
Matsumoto has a long history as a city of music—even today, it hosts a summer festival organized by renowned maestro Seiji Ozawa. The town is alive with music and performers, and Hoshino Resorts KAI Matsumoto pays homage to the city by organizing with most of these performers nightly concerts in the ryokan’s lobby, a cavernous space with excellent acoustics.
In fact, a one-hour concert is proposed for the residents each evening, with virtuoso duets – piano and flute, or violin and piano – playing in perfect symbiosis. Pieces from both the classical and the contemporary repertoire are performed with grace to add a unique touch to your evenings.
The hotel’s elegant sophistication is reflected in the food it serves. As is customary in Japan, the restaurant at Hoshino Resorts KAI Matsumoto is divided into small private dining rooms, each furnished like a traditional Japanese home, with table in the centre under which all the diners slide their feet.
The chef serves outstanding kaiseki cuisine, first selecting products with the greatest of care, and then creating a series of exquisitely delicate dishes.
The same high quality is present throughout, in the starters, the main courses, and the broths, which are exceptionally clear and flavoursome.
The city centre
You should set aside at least one day to visit the city, starting with the famous castle. Completed in the late sixteenth century, the castle is listed as a National Treasure of Japan and is remarkable for its unique architecture, its colours – black and white, which have earned it the nickname of Crow Castle – the keep is completely made of wooden structure, and its collection of arquebuses on display on the second floor.
After that, you will have time to explore the main avenue, Nakamachi, which is full of attractive bars and cafés, restaurants and small local craft shops: antiques, artisans who make lacquered bowls and objects in wood, pottery, and pastries such as the baumkuchen which simply must be tried.
A trip into the mountains
During your stay in Matsumoto, you can take the bus to Kamikochi, a little over an hour and a half from the hotel. This area is a favourite with keen climbers and those who love nature in its wild state.
Surrounded by peaks reaching a height of 3,000 metres in the heart of the Japanese Alps, this is the starting point for a day’s climbing or alternatively for some beautiful walks. The landscapes are absolutely stunning, combining forests and mountains, lakes and rivers.
The light effects and the ambiances are constantly changing, with here a pond reflecting the sunshine, there a dry riverbed where stones are mixed with sand, and then you find yourself in the shade of the forest, with its very special colours and atmosphere.
You will be filled with amazement when you see the deep green hues of the leaves, the subtle variations in the colours, the crystal clear waters, and the savage power of nature as it unfolds around you. These are images that you will certainly remember for a long, long time.