Lost in Matsumoto

Matsumoto Travel Blog

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Today I took four trains to make my way from Nikko to Matsumoto.  Here I am planning my route through Japan while sitting in Miami, looking at a map and dragging my finger in straight lines from one mountain town to the next.  Does it occur to me to check train routes, rather than assume there is a direct connection?  Yeah right.  FOUR trains. 

I made it to Nikko station just in time to watch the train pull out and here I am standing in line at the ticket window.  At least I had Jane Austen to keep me company (and she is damn good company) as I waited for the next train, a full hour later.  This was at 10am.  A few minutes before 5pm finally found me in Matsumoto.  Like any good girl scout who was never actually a girl scout, I pulled out the address and directions last night and was a little concerned about their ambiguity.  But, rather than ask the front desk to use the phone to call and clarify, I assume it'll be crystal clear with well-marked signage to guide my way.  (You can see these benign assumptions are starting to morph into something not so nice.)

So.  Matsumoto.  Yay!  I'm hungry.  And jonesing for some of that cafe au lait sold in milk cartons on every corner.  First things first, let's find the guesthouse, drop our stuff, and track down some grub, shall we?  Not so fast.  Find the correct bus no problem, manage to shortchange the driver by 50% (not my fault! it wasn't posted and my horrendous directions misrepresented the amount), finally sort it out and settle in to be dropped in my well-marked part of own.  To give you some insight, the directions read: "take the Higashi bus to Agatano-mori, ten minute walk from the bus stop."  Well isn't that just swell.  Ten minutes in which direction?  Street names?  Perhaps there's a turn or two involved?  Will I be forging a river?  Forced to stop and ask directions on more than one occasion and not once come across someone able to understand me?  Have I mentioned that the Japanese and the English alphabets don't remotely resemble each other and so pointing to things written in English is of no help whatsoever?  The answer is yes.  To all of the above.  And to make matters worse, it was dusk.  It was probably around 5:30 at this point and I had a matter of minutes before the sun was completely down and I'd be lost in the dark in a mountain town with no means of communicating.  Fan-Fucking-Tastic.

Not to fret boys and girls, the story has a happy ending.  I flagged down a taxi driver as he dropped off some locals and did the same fruitless point and plead routine.  He seemed never to have heard of the guesthouse, and the lack of a street name wasn't scoring me any points.  He did, however, radio in to his dispatcher who knew how to direct me.  After standing and talking and in rapid-fire Japanese for several minutes, I finally managed to convey via shrugs and forlorn looks and gestures down various streets that I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.  He told me to hop in and dropped me off, free of charge.  Karma is going to treat him NICE.

Ecstatic to make it just as the sun was setting, I called hello several times into a empty reception area, fighting scenes from Stephen King's horror story that takes place in a ski lodge and involves little boys croaking "RED RUM" from my suddenly vivid imagination.  I sat in the dark front area for a good ten minutes before going outside to walk around and see if I somehow missed a reception office.  I could only find one other door around the side, which while belonging to the same building, definitely did not resemble a lobby or office.  It was more akin to someone's private front door.  After debating the matter for a few minutes, I figured what the hell and knocked.  Two adorable little girls came charging to the front door, and were immediately disappointed to see a lost stranger greeting them in a crappy foreign accent.  I gave up and came back around front, and one of the little girls joined me a few minutes later with a phone in her hand.  She dialed several times, apparently with no answer, and jabbered away at me to sit down and make myself at home (for all I know she was bitching about my presence, but her gestures led me to believe otherwise).  She then peaced and left me in the dark reception on my own again.  Finally (when is this ridiculous sob story going to END???) a man came up and requested an ungodly sum of money that I foolishly promised to pay from my comfortable little perch in Miami, not knowing it would take me four trains and the better part of an hour wandering lost in the outskirts of this (I'm sure very charming under other circumstances) mountain town.  He then peaced too.

Here I am, in a guesthouse all to myself, which is big and dark and eerie, with literally not even one other person around.  Desperately hoping tomorrow redeems Matsumoto for me.  At least I have a castle to look forward to.
fransglobal says:
How big is the sack of walnuts? With that and your travelling library of guidebooks, it is no wonder your bag is so heavy!
Posted on: Sep 28, 2009
domnicella says:
Sorry. "Peaced" means left. Poor slang. In other words, he turned around and walked away, leaving me to my own devices. Not so fun when I'm hungry from traveling without meals all day and not about to venture out to get lost (again!) in the dark. Thankfully I travel with a sack of walnuts. Problem is, I've had more meals than I care to count consisting of water and walnuts in the past week. Better than nothing!
Posted on: Sep 28, 2009
fransglobal says:
Jane Austen? Well at least she wrote in English. What does 'jonesing' mean? 'He then peaced too' - do not compute.
Posted on: Sep 28, 2009
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