Following on from yesterday's report from Kyoto where the season was already rapidly nearing its end, today I made a stop at Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture, where for many cities the season is still in full swing due to higher elevation and accompanying colder temperatures.

My main focus today was on Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan's most visually spectacular and complete of Japan's few surviving original castles, and among its most instantly recognizable sightseeing spots. As it happens, my visit coincided with the city's announcement of the beginning of full bloom and this certainly chimed with my experience - with the castle and its surroundings just now entering into the window of best viewing.

Arriving at the castle's grounds, my initial impression was that the cherry blossom trees were still at a much earlier stage than reported, as many of the trees on the outside of the moat were showing only a few open blooms and lots of new buds. In fact, it is quite normal for trees close to water to blossom slightly later.

Inside the castle's inner defensive walls soon proved to be a quite different picture - with blossoms very much at full bloom and beautifully framing the iconic main tower. I would expect an ideal viewing experience here to continue well into next week, although light showers forecast for Wednesday could hasten the end of the season somewhat.