Matsumoto’s top attraction is, of course, the castle. But among foreigners, what is the city’s #2 most popular spot? According to one innkeeper who caters to guests from abroad, it is JUM, the Japan Ukioye Museum.
Today I met up with some of my fellow Inbound colleagues in Matsumoto. We are working on projects to make Nagano friendlier and more accessible to travelers from abroad. Anyways, since we were meeting in ‘Moto, we decided to hold the gathering at JUM. The curator, Sakai-san, graciously offered to give us a talk about the museum. He went into some fascinating subjects about why Westerners fancy ukiyoe, the roots of the Japanese people (as well as natto — both are surprisingly international), etc.
Then Sakai-san narrated a slide show on the museum’s current display, works by Hiroshige from the 1860′s on popular spots (of that time) in Tokyo. Ukiyoe was THE pop-culture art of the period, and seeing scenes of Tokyo in ukiyoe prints really brings the era alive. It’s amazing to see Ocha-no-mizu in a snow scene, and even more amazing to hear that the river was so clean its water (‘mizu’) was used for making tea (‘ocha’). Another fun scene was of tourists sightseeing at a waterfall in Shinjuku. This scene was surprising for 2 reasons — first, a natural waterfall in Shinjuku?!?!; second, one of the tourists was obviously a foreigner — “Inbound” back in the 1860′s!
Sakai-san offers his talks in English, Japanese, or an English-Japanese mix. If he isn’t available to talk in person, his narration is recorded and can be played back while watching the slide show.
JUM is located about a 10-minute walk from the Matsumoto Interchange, which is accessible by highway bus from downtown Matsumoto. So if/when you visit ‘Moto, after seeing the castle, lose yourself in the ukiyoe world at JUM!