Chikato Shrine and the Chikatoyama Walking Course
A way’s away from downtown Matsumoto, but still within bicycling distance (just under 3.5 km away from Matsumoto Station), is Chikato Shrine and Chikato Pond. The shrine sits on top of a forested hill overlooking the Pond. Walking trails run through the forest so you can reach the shrine and an observation platform at the top, making this a nice location to enjoy history and nature without going too far outside of the city. In the spring, the pond is also surrounded by blooming cherry trees.
There are two entrances to the trails, both marked by impressive shrine gates: the vibrant red one in the photo above and on the north side, a beautiful wooden gate that remains unpainted.
Which ever entrance you choose, it shouldn’t be too hard to find Chikato Shrine at top of the hill. On the trails you’ll find bushy ferns, cute flowers, crooked red pines, and views of the nearby rice paddies peeking through the trees.
You may also run into one of the mini-shrines along the way.
Once you get up the hill, the main shrine will eventually appear from out of the trees.
The exact date the shrine was originally built is unknown, but it’s estimated that it was there by the early 1600s. You may notice four large tree trunks erected around the shrine buildings. These are drug up the mountain by manpower and stood up on the four corners of the premises during the Onbashira Festival.
Continue on further past the shrine to reach the observation platform, which offers a great view of the Japan Alps and city below.
Head back down the hill to get to the trail that runs around the pond, where you’ll find a picnic area, a kura-style warehouse, and probably see some ducks floating on the pond.
If you came here by bike or on foot, I also recommend biking/strolling around the rice paddy area to the northeast of the park for some picturesque Japanese country scenery!
Check out the map below for the location of this park. If you’re coming from around the Matsumoto Station/downtown area, it would take around 15–20 minutes by bicycle or about 45–50 minutes on foot. There is also a parking lot if you prefer to drive.