Guided Matsumoto Walking Tour: Footsteps of the Castle Lords
Home to one of Japan’s last and best-preserved Edo Period (1603-1868) castles, Matsumoto is an ideal city in which to delve into the feudal past by retracing the very steps of ‘daimyo’ (feudal lords) that once ruled the country. Matsumoto City offers a range of walking tours – including 8-hour or overnight tours – starting at the castle before heading along the ancient roads through old samurai and merchant districts and into the wild – as you follow the old routes and once subjugated tradition of ‘sankin kotai’.
Under the rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate, feudal lords were required to make the arduous and taxing journey – called ‘sankin kotai’ – to the capital of Edo – now called Tokyo – at least once every two years. Once there, daimyo’ were required to remain in court for six months before leaving immediate family members in the capital during their absence. In doing so, the shogunate compelled the regional lords to comply by effectively holding their family captive while burdening them with the huge financial cost of the regular journey to and residence in the capital.
Today, Matsumoto City offers walking tours that retrace that journey, starting at the castle and former residence of the daimyo before taking you as far as the rural district of Okada and along the original route to the old Kariyahara Pass and onto Satoyama Villa Honjin – a grand accommodation that once housed the regional lords as they moved along the road. Routes include the option of:
Option A: includes a total of 16km of walking in Matsumoto City, Okada and along the forested Kariyahara Pass. The tour ends with lunch at Satoyama Villa Honjin.
Option B: includes a short historical hike of the Kariyahara Pass. From Matsumoto Station you take a local bus to Kariyahara and walk around 4km onto Satoyama Villa Honjin, where you enjoy lunch before returning to the city.
Option C: offers guests the chance for an extended tour of Matsumoto Castle before taking a local bus directly to Satoyama Villa Honjin for lunch.
Option D: follows the same route as Option A with the addition of overnight accommodation at Satoyama Villa Honjin.
Available upon on request from April to November, tours are typically start at 08:00 or 09:00, with the booking office open from 08:00 to 18:00. Bookings can be made using the phone number and email listed above.