Located about 2 hours away from Nagano, Matsumoto is well-known for its 16th-century Castle, a stronghold nicknamed as “Crow Castle” due to its distinctive black walls. The nearby Nakamachi Street on the south side of the Ta River is lined with old merchant houses reminiscent of a already gone Japan and on the opposite side is the Yohashira Shrine. Close to it, you'll find a funny statue of two fierce-looking samurai frogs fighting with katana in their hands. The explanation is simple - the Matsumoto's Annual Frog Festival - which occurs during 2 days in June and has been held for more than a decade on the Nawate Street. Further north from the Castle grounds is the Takahashi Family Residence, a genuine samurai residence and house to the first mayor of Matsumoto, Yorinaga Ori.

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