Shirakawa-go Thatched House Village & Matsumoto Castle
Having been a World Heritage Site since 1995, these thatch-roofed houses are a must-see of the region! This style of house is known as gassho-zukuri, which refers to the shape of hands put together in prayer.
After having a wander through the town, my guide introduced me to a kind of sake called doburoku. Although this sake is usually only available during the Doboroku Festival from October 14 to 19 each year, we got a special chance to try it. I'd never had unrefined sake before, so I was surprised by the thick texture and white color! It was quite sour and a little bit sweet.
Matsumoto Castle (Nagano)
The castle is famous for its black color, and it was very beautiful to see from a distance. As we walked in the grounds, we met a couple of guys dressed like samurai who welcomed visitors to the castle. Entering the castle itself was like a history lesson, and our English-speaking guide was an excellent teacher. I particularly enjoyed learning about the hidden fourth floor meant to confuse people who tried to attack the castle.