The ultimate soba experience

October 28th, 2018 by
Category: Cuisine, Experience

Distilled in one plate of noodles an unwavering commitment to quality.

The master

Meet a soba master who impersonates the phrase “from field to table”. In order to achieve top quality with his soba, he has mastered the whole production process from farming to cooking. Who better to introduce you to soba tradition in Nagano?

The master is a local, born and raised in one of the villages perched on the foot of the mountains. In the mountainous Nagano prefecture, where cultivating rice used to be a constant challenge, soba (“buckwheat”) was an irreplaceable resource. This was even more the case in the master’s mountain village where many farmers used to cultivate it almost as a form of insurance in case they had a bad rice harvest.

Always familiar with this ingredient since he was child, when he grew up to inherit his father’s farm and soba restaurant the master committed to produce the best soba he could. He reached the conclusion that to guarantee the best quality, he were to take the entire process in his own hands. That’s why now he takes care of the farming (from preparing the soil to harvesting the grains), manipulation (all the way to the milling) and cooking process by himself.

Lake Shirakaba

For this activity you will head to Lake Shirakaba, the reservoir used by the master’s village to grow rice. On the shore of the “lake” stands the minshuku run by the master and his family. You can either take a bus from Chino station or our staff can give you a lift up there.

Learn from the expert

Once arrived at the minshuku, it’s time to learn everything there is to know about soba. The master will share his intimate knowledge with you, explaining how soba is made, what makes good soba and what are the roots of its tradition in Nagano. He will also show you the machines he uses to turn soba grains into flour. An English-speaking guide will be with you all the time to facilitate communication and allow you to ask as many questions as you like.


More kneading









With your newly-acquired knowledge, you can now face soba making. The master will follow you step by step, sharing all the secrets for perfect soba noodles. You will knead the freshly-milled flour, stretch the dough and finally cut the noodles.


…and wrap



The activity will conclude with a compare tasting of your soba and the master’s.

(*With an extra 1,500 yen you can upgrade to a rich soba-based dinner)

Dinner (1-night stay option)

You can also combine this activity with a full-board stay at the master’s minshuku. In which case you can enjoy not only yours and the master’s noodles, but also soba gaki, hand-made miso hot pot, home-grown vegetable tempura, salad, rice and so on. Of course, breakfast on the following morning will also be made with the same delicious vegetables and rice grown by the master.

Minshuku guestroom

Period: all year
Access: about 30 min from JR Chino station
Time: ① 3h or ② 1-night stay with full board
Capacity: Min. 2 persons Max. 8 persons

①Soba experience + 1-night stay with dinner and breakfast included
12,000 JPY (tax excl.)/ person (in standard room, 2 persons 1 room)
12,900 JPY (tax excl.)/ person (in room with unit bath, 2 persons 1 room)
Includes: activity cost, stay in minshuku, dinner, breakfast, English-speaking guide


②Soba experience
6,500 JPY (tax excl.)/ person
6,000 JPY (tax excl.)/ person (3+ participants)
5,500 JPY (tax excl.)/ person (6+ participants)
Includes: activity cost, soba meal, English-speaking guide
*Upgrade to lunch with an extra 1,500 yen/ person

Prices vary for children under 13
Vegetarian and vegan options are available.
Please inform us in advance if you have any allergy or special dietary requirements.
For further information, contact Chino Tabi at

Tasting Sake in the Japanese Countryside

October 25th, 2018 by
Category: Cuisine, Information

A ball of pine hung outside means, “There’s sake here!”

When visiting a foreign culture, you would be amiss not to taste the local cuisine and drink while you’re here. In Japan, that includes lots of delicious dishes like sushi, ramen, tempura, and, of course, sake.

Sake, called Nihonshu in Japanese, is considered by many to be a mysterious beverage. It is often referred to as rice wine in English, but that name doesn’t seem to fit quite right. It doesn’t look like wine, and it doesn’t really taste like wine either. It’s something completely of its own. How do you learn more about it? By drinking it, of course!

Whether you have experience tasting sake or not, you can expand your sake knowledge by tasting it right from the source. Japan’s many sake breweries that have been producing this complex libation for centuries, and can enlighten you on sake’s many styles and flavors, from floral, elegant Daiginjo to the straight-forward and dry Karakuchi.

Nagano has over 80 sake breweries around the prefecture—the second highest number of all prefectures in Japan—where you can taste local flavors slowly perfected over the centuries. Below are breweries and specialty shops where you can try a range of the prefecture’s most delicious sake.
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Japanese Culture Experience Day in Nakamachi, Matsumoto

October 23rd, 2018 by
Category: Information

Nakamachi’s popular Japanese culture event from last year is back again this November!

Spend the day in Matsumoto! Participate in fun hands-on activities, such as playing the shamisen or a traditional geisha game; try out a ninja blowgun; make a wooden glider; drink some local sake; and more! You can also see an awesome Japanese swordsmanship demonstration, shamisen and Japanese drum performances, professional kendama players, and a parade of Japanese warriors. The event is family friendly.



See all the activities and schedule of demonstrations and performances on the event flyer. Since Nakamachi is just down the street from Matsumoto Castle, you can also check out the Citizens’ Festival happening on the same day. Certain activities will be cancelled in the event of rain.

Free Sticker Campaign – Starting Oct. 22

Grab some cool stickers when you go to Nakamachi Street after visiting Matsumoto Castle (hold on to your admission ticket stub)!
You can get the first sticker by simply showing your ticket stub at Kurassic-kan or at the Nakamachi Shopping Street Association Office. You can get the other versions when you purchase/use a service or get a bite to eat at participating shops.

See the flyer for more information. The campaign will last until stickers run out.

Nagano Day Trip to Obuse and Togakushi

October 4th, 2018 by
Category: Information, Report, Sightseeing

Early autumn colors on Togakushi’s Okusha Shrine trail

Nagano City is surrounded by idyllic, countryside spots with a wealth of culture and nature.
Bountiful fields grow along the Chikuma River, ancient shrines lay in the shadow of great mountains, and sleepy towns embrace historical sites tied to some of Japan’s greatest warrior clans—there is so much to see but often too little time!

Some of Nagano City’s most popular sightseeing spots include National Treasure Zenkoji Temple, the shrines of Togakushi, and the museums and cafes in the charming town of Obuse. It just so happens that a new sightseeing bus visits all of these, making sightseeing around Nagano City easier than ever.
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New English Booking Site for Cultural Experiences in Matsumoto

October 4th, 2018 by
Category: Cuisine, Culture Art, Experience, Outdoor Activities


What is there to do besides visit the castle? Plenty! It is now easier to find and book Japanese cultural experiences in Matsumoto. The new Matsumoto Experience website was made by locals and introduces hands-on activities in the city and surrounding area. All activities on the site have been tried by foreign residents of Matsumoto. The website is offered in English and provides a direct booking form. Whether this is your first visit to Japan or you live here, you could discover something new to try. The wide variety of activities will satisfy interests in traditional clothing, food, music, or the outdoors. Visit

Current activities include:
Kimono & Yukata Rental
Samurai Sword Fighting
Taiko Drumming
Miso Brewery Tour and Lunch
Soba Noodle Making
River Cruising by Raft

Bookings are handled by the Experience Information Center in Shinmai Media Garden between Matsumoto Station and the Castle. Feel free to pop in if you are in the area and want to see what is available. You can also find Matsumoto Experience on Facebook @matsumotoexp and Twitter @MatsumotoExper1.

Experience Information Center
Shinmai Media Garden
2-20-2 Chuo
Matsumoto, Nagano
390-8585 Japan
Tel. 090-3065-7654
Contact form
Open Wed, Thu, and Fri
* Open Wed–Sun from Oct. 9 through Feb.

Matsumoto is accessible by direct express train from Tokyo, Nagoya, and Nagano City. See the Visit Matsumoto Access page for a comprehensive list of ways to access Matsumoto.