My research (if you can call it that) of Nagano's Top 100 Onsens continues. This time it was Mushi-Uta no Yu in Nagano City's Matsushiro district. Located at the foot of Mt. Minakami (rumored to be a pyramid visited by UFO's), Mushi-Uta no Yu overlooks Nagano City and the Zenkoji Plain. Several acquaintances who live in Matsushiro recommended Mushi-Uta for its view.
Mushi-Uta literally means "the insects' song". It refers to Matsushiro's roots as a silkworm growing area. Children used to hear the cries of the silkworms struggling to break out of their cocoons and had a statue dedicated to Kannon (the Goddess of Mercy) built nearby.
Not that I'm an onsen critic, but here is my arguably critical take on Mushi-Uta no Yu:
The large outdoor bath is massive, and features huge boulders and a garden. However, just 10 minutes further up Route 35 is Juppuku no Yu whose outdoor bath features even more impressive boulders and a much more complete garden.
The highly-touted view from the outdoor bath overlooking the valley turned out to be disappointing, as you had to stand up to enjoy it due to fence blocking the view. About 10 minutes north of Matsushiro is Omuro Onsen's Makiba no Yu has a much more panaromic view of the valley.
For me, the most important part is the quality of the onsen water, and that was the biggest disappointment -- Mushi-Uta's mineral content is rather bland and the baths are recirculated. Which is a shame, because also in Matsushiro is Matsushiro-sou and nearby Ichiyoukan whose iron-rich mineral water makes for an unforgettable onsen experience.
One thing Mushi-Uta has going for it is the impressive timbers used in the construction of the bathhouse and the shelter over the main outdoor bath. Overall though, with so many better onsen options in the area, Mushi-Uta needs more than just cool columns.
But don't take my word for it. Mushi-Uta has lots of fans -- go check it out yourself.