East of Matsumoto Castle, tucked away behind City Hall, you’ll find a stretch of the original outer moat. Just to the south of this remaining section of the ‘sotobori’ is Agetsuchi-machi, a quiet neighborhood with some interesting historical secrets and plenty of old-time appeal.
The Origins of “Agetsuchi”
The eastern side of Matsumoto Castle’s outer ‘sotobori’ moat used to run right through Agetsuchi-machi neighborhood. Along this eastern stretch was the largest of four “umadashi”, places like small islands designed as pathways for horses used in the protection of the castle. When the moat for this eastern umadashi was dug, the dirt was piled up to prevent people from seeing the inner area of the umadashi, giving this area the name “Agetsuchi”, meaning ‘to put or pile dirt’.
In addition to being the site of one of the few entranceways to Matsumoto Castle, this area also served as a samurai district, with rows of ‘buke-yashiki’ samurai houses along with, at one point, a prison.
The Entertainment Era
After the Meiji Era was ushered in, ending Japan’s feudal system, this neighborhood became a bustling entertainment district. The streets were lined with theaters, tea houses and places to eat and drink, catering to the crowds spilling in from nearby Nawate-dori and Yohashira Shrine.
The theaters that were once the hallmark of the area no longer exist, but the feel of a time gone by remains in the architecture of the buildings that house restaurants, bakeries, Japanese sake shops, and other pleasant surprises.
Taking in the Agetsuchi Atmosphere
The variety of establishments in Agetsuchi-machi is quite impressive. Hours of operation among these places may vary considerably, as will the chances anyone will speak English in any given place. Nevertheless the quiet, old-time appeal of the neighborhood makes for a wonderfully pleasant stroll.
The best of Agetsuchi-machi, however, is less evident. To discover all the historical secrets of this quiet slice of Matsumoto, join us for a magical night-time walking tour, where you’ll also get to try some of the best and most unique local food and drink around. So put on some comfortable shoes, give us a call, and come walk where the samurai walked!
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