Cycling the Matsumoto Countryside

Posted on 2023.01.22 in Activities and Spots

The richness of Sato-Yamabe, just east of downtown Matsumoto

Two of the things I love most about living here in the center of Nagano are cycling the Matsumoto countryside and sharing this beautiful mountain town with people who come to visit. On an eTour de Matsumoto with Matsumoto Experience I get to do both.

Worldwide Invitation to Ride

Pedaling the gentility and tradition of Sato-Yamabe

Our guests come from all over the globe to explore our castle town as it sits amid the mountains of central Japan. On a recent tour we welcomed Michele, a wonderful guest from the US who, though an average cyclist by her own admission, had a willing and adventurous spirit. The quality e-bikes available from Hello Cycling added an extra helping of assurance, and after a brief safety check we were off, pedaling through town under impeccable blue skies.

History Up Close & Nature All Around

Kotaku-ji Temple dates back to 1441, and is still run by the Ogasawara family that ruled this region from the early 1300s.

Our first stops, just a few minutes’ cycling away, included the early 14th Century Fukashi Shrine and a rooftop view of the land in every distant direction. Then up the bike path along the Metoba River and out to Kotaku-ji, the family temple of the Ogasawara clan, rulers of this area for 250 years and a living legacy even today. And of course, our morning wouldn’t be complete with some free-wheeling fun through the fields of the Yamabe Valley.

Sharing the Roads We Travel

Shinshu soba and a little relaxation for lunch

I love fielding questions from the people I show around, and my guest on this day filled that bill perfectly. She was inquisitive and genuinely interested, and easily injected her own personal anecdotes and experiences with Japan and the wider world we’ve each traveled, making for a day of fun two-way conversation, over our soba lunch in Asama-Onsen and right through the afternoon.

A fair number of overseas travelers visit Japan in the blossoming spring and the colorful autumn – and for good reason. But cycling the Matsumoto countryside is a treat any time of year. With an electric-assist bike, it’s only that much more satisfying.

But don't just take my word for it. Check out what Michele had to say: