This past Friday I rode my bike past Yohashira Shrine, to see if any of the fall colors were still hanging around. On the shrine grounds small teams of people were setting up canopy tents and food stalls. This, I knew, meant a festival was in the works.
The next day I went back down to find a few families celebrating Shichi-Go-San, a ritual of parents praying for the health and success of their children, who do their best to tolerate the whole situation.
But this all seemed just a backdrop for everything else going on. Matsumoto Castle may be the crown jewel of the town, but Yohashira Shrine and the adjacent pedestrian haven of Nawate-dori, known to many as Frog Street, seem to be turning into the main gathering place for visitors and locals alike.
And yeah, the fall colors were still hanging around.
To be sure, Frog Street and Yohashira Shrine are not like this every day. Things turn quieter during the week, and when the weather turns cold. But whenever you are here, make it a point to stop by – a few times – to see what’s going on, and to take in the air of history that lies underneath the oft-lively atmosphere.
And once you’ve had your fill of Frog Street, head across the Metoba River and go one short block south. The old merchant street of Nakamachi-dori is waiting…
It’s hard to miss Yohashira Shrine and Frog Street, but just in case: