While back in Japan, we went and visited a city I lived in, called Matsumoto. Matsumoto is at the base of the Japanese alps. In Matsumoto, on a clear day snow topped mountains can be seen at the end of every grid lined streets. It is surprisingly cosmopolitan with quite a bit of funk. It is easily navigated by bicycle and has some fantastic boutiques and independent bars and cafes hidden in almost every back street. It still has quite a traditional feel and many traditional art forms are still produced in the region.
While exploring Matsumoto I came across a shop which I’d never been to before, despite living in the area for 18 months! I am not really surprised that I missed it though as the only indication of a shop was the small wooden doorway with the traditional door curtains (noren) over the door. However, once inside it was crammed full of intricately made traditional Japanese dolls and ornaments.The couple who owned the store and small museum were adorable. When I asked the gentleman if I could take his photo he asked me to wait while he went and got his wife who was creating the beautiful handmade dolls out the back. They seemed quite stoked that I wanted to take their photograph and eagerly gave us a guided tour of their shop. I got the feeling they didn’t get many visitors as they even came out to wave us goodbye as we rode off on our bicycles. As we rode away, I turned back to see them still standing outside their little shop waving away.