We often go to the Azumino area for driving. Depending on where we go, it’s about a 30-minute-drive from Matsumoto. Azumino used to be 6 separate towns, but they merged together in 2005 to create a large city filled with abundant natural beauty and many things to do.
This time we chose two places. Our first stop was Azumino Art Hills Museum in Azumino-Hotaka.Art Hills is a glass museum and shop with an extensive collection of Emile Galle works. We also love its many smooth glass creations and other fancy things. I come this shop often to get presents for my friends and family, and there is a chance to try glass blowing if you are interested. During our visit there, we went to the Italian restaurant on the 2nd floor, Quindicci. They have a big stone oven for pizzas. We enjoyed our lunch with under the warm sunlight through their large glass windows.
After lunch, we walked around the shop and saw things like these glasses with Urushi lacquer-ware. I think the mixture of Western and Japanese style was very exotic.
After we enjoyed our lovely lunch and shopping at Azumino Art Hills, we headed to Fine View Muroyama, which is an Onsen (hot spring) hotel but allows bath visitors from 10am to 10pm.The reason we come this hot spring so often is that the view they have, as you can imagine from the name, is really fine. They have a Rotenburo outside bath made of rocks where you can admire Azumino area and Matsumoto. The day we went was very nice, so we had a relaxing, leisurely bath. Here are some tips for taking a bath at Fine View. After you enter and change from shoes to slippers, you can find a ticket machine. Buy a bath ticket for 500 (towels are 200 more), then take the stairs on the right. You will find a small counter to give your ticket and enter the bath area.
Fine View also has a nice soba (buckwheat noodle) restaurant on the lobby level, so if you have time, please try the soba and enjoy the scenery.
This is a blog for foreigners in Japan from all over the world, so here is some extra advice for our visitors.
1. There is a very nice soft cream shop next to Art Hills. I recommend you to try it!
2. There are about 20 museums in the Azumino area, such as Azumino city Toyoshina Modern Museum, Chihiro Museum, Azumino Jansem Museum, Rokuzan Art Museum, and others.
3. To go to the Azumino area, we recommend you rent a car. A rental shop is just to the right of the entrance of Matsumoto station.
For more information on the places we recommended, check out these websites:
Azumino Tourist Info (English)
Azumino Art Hills Museum (English)
Fine View Muroyama (English)
Azumino-city Toyoshina Modern Museum (Japanese)
Chihiro Museum (English)
Azumino Jansem Museum (English)
Rokuzan Art Museum (English)