Although Matsumoto is not the capital of Nagano Prefecture, it seems that the social life of Nagano JETs and other ALTs does seem to orbit this city.
Acclaimed for having beautiful views of the Japanese Alps, a historic castle and a vibrant cosmopolitan style. It is not too big as to be difficult to get around it is also not too small that you feel like you are in a fishbowl.
It is going to be hot and humid. Not quite as bad a Tokyo, but it not that much different either. It will take you some time to get used to the heat and the new culture you have landed in. Take it easy on your first week here and make sure you hydrate yourself with sports drinks as well as water. It doesn't last that long and Autumn is just around the corner. Like winter it's not really as bad as it seems.
Hopefully your predecessor has not cleaned you out and you have a functional apartment. For the stuff you didn't bring over here is a list of stores to get the things you need.
- PARCO - Big expensive department store, wait until you have a few paychecks under your belt before buying stuff here. The plaza out the front is pleasant during summer, especially if the fountain is running. LAOX is on the top floor for a small selection of electric/electronic goods.
- Espa - The middle of the road type department store. Not a great selection of stuff, but has your basic needs. The supermarket in the basement is a little on the expensive side but good in a pinch. The Bus terminal is here for both local and intercity buses. The ticket counter is in the basement and some of the attendants can speak English. On the top floor is a 100Yen Shop with a good selection of stuff for home and school.
- Inou - Explained to me as the middle aged ladies department store. A Mister Minute is located on the ground floor for key cutting.
- Midori - In the train station building, and in a bit of a mess as they are renovating the train station. Has some funky stuff, in a market / bazaar type of set up.
- Katakura Mall - This is really the only shopping mall in Matsumoto. This place has a large amount of parking, a bike shop, a small food court, a book store, a large supermarket, a discount department store upstairs, a 100Yen shop and a variety of other small stores. It's a little bit hard to get to from town but it is walkable. Treasure Foods (international foods) is also in this mall.
- Watahan (like a Kmart/Home Depot) and Seiyu (24 hour supermarket) are further 500m north on the opposite side of Yamabiko Rd.
- Seiyu - Open 24 hours there are several around town, the main one is on Yamabiko Rd. has some good specials sometimes.
- Jusco - In the Katakura Mall. Regular type of supermarket. Reasonable prices.
- Appleland - Smaller supermarkets in stratigic place around Matsumoto. A little more expencive than the big ones, but usually closer.