Japan's oldest castle and a city of clocks!
Matsumoto is a small provincial city surrounded by mountains, which, in spring, are covered with snow. The city's most well-known sight is the more than 400 years old Matsumoto castle. The castle is extremely photogenic in spring when its moat is framed by sakura, snowy mountains, and blue sky.
Beyond the castle is a city where clocks seem to be a major theme. The Matsumoto Timepiece Museum is the central focus of this theme, but the charming Karakuri clock is another feature worth stopping by at. Nakamachi Street and Nawate Street are two roads worth exploring as well.
In 2006, I stayed two nights at the Asama HI hostel, in the suburb of Asama, northeast of the city centre. If you book in advance, you might get a ryokan (traditional inn/lodging house) closer to the city.
The tourist information office is just outside the east entrance to JR Matsumoto station. You can get excellent English maps there that will help you greatly while you are in the city. The bus station is just opposite here (ask the tourist information office lady to point it out as it's hard to see).