Just across a small bridge on the way to Matsumoto Castle, Nawate Street is a row of small shops with a subtle but recurring frog theme. The banks of the river once echoed with the voices of frogs. Kaeru, the Japanese word for “frog” can also mean “to return home.” Thus, as a symbol of the frog history and to invoke a safe return home, a statue of a frog marks the entrance to the street. The large fiberglass sculpture, by students from the Tokyo University for the Arts, shows frogs decked out for battle. Right next to the frog sculpture is a small shop specializing in rice crackers (senbei), Japanese crackers made from glutinous rice. Varying soy-based glazes give the specialty sembei here varied characters, ranging from salty to spicy. Keep Taiyaki Furusato in mind as a place for a light snack.
Aside from a variety of snack shops and a “Sweet” little cafe/bakery (which has been around since 1923), the street also has plenty of little nick knack shops and souvenirs. A number of shops allow you to make your own unique item to take home. There is a cute place to pick up pottery at a good price, a place with some very nice steal tea pots, and of course plenty of cute frog trinkets. It is said that a frog will help things return to you. This is especially valuable in or on your purse, as it will bring you money. Yohashira Shrine is also on Nawate Street and is a lovely place to sit while enjoying your taiyaki or rice crackers or to simply soak in the sun and people watch.