Matsumoto-jo

Matsumoto Travel Blog

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View from the train climbing the mountain en route to Matsumoto.
Yesterday was a rainy, dreary day in Matsumoto.  Famished from not eating the day before, I made a beeline on my (borrowed) bike to the grocery store.  Being housed in the mall, it didn't open until the absurd hour of 10am.  Soaking wet and cranky, I battled my way through the ridiculously narrow streets in search of ANYTHING at this point.  Turns out, nothing in Matsumoto opens much before 9, and even that is stretching it.  I did manage to find a quickie-mart though, and promptly horrified the clerk by gulping down a pint of that sweet creamy coffee I had been jonesing for the prior night.

With at least that in my tummy I was able to check out Matsumoto-jo, Japan's oldest wooden castle.
Ears popping in a long tunnel through the mountains.
  It's truly spectacular, and pretty much the only reason to visit Matsumoto (which, much to my disappointment, was flat suburban sprawl, as opposed to the lush mountainous terrain I was envisioning).  The castle is five stories throughout, and six in its tallest tower, but is designed to look one story less throughout (so four stories and five stories, respectively).  This was done as a strategy to fool/outsmart the enemy; as to the benefits of appearing shorter than you are I'm not entirely certain.

From the castle I tinkered around town in search of the world's largest meal to feed my elephantine appetite, but alas, only came across some hideous tourist trap, advertising turkey sandwiches and spaghetti and other assorted "American comfort food."  I did come across a delightful sweet shop though, and promptly bought myself a small sack of supremely fresh and tender mochi, made on the premises.
Soaked!
  YUM.  Savoring every last one of those babies.

I resorted to returning to the (now open) grocery store, and promptly bought them out of pretty much everything.  I wolfed some sort of baked roll/pastry thing while shopping (Can you blame me? The bakery is the first thing you walk past and after perusing two aisles and trying unsuccessfully to ignore the mouth-watering scents wafting from its ovens, I gave in and tried to choose something that looked different and interesting, yet not a total caloric landmine like a glazed doughnut or stuffed croissant.), stocked up on milk and juice and tea, and selected an assortment of sushi that would rival anything an upper level restaurant in Miami would offer, as well as a cabbage salad and bags of raisins and goji berries to complement the walnuts next time I need a meal on the go.
  I also snagged another Asian pear.  I can't seem to get enough of them.  I've had them several times in New York, but they're always "meh."  Sure, crunchy and a fun alternative to an apple or pear, but "meh."  Nothing special.  I bought one here a day or two into my trip in Tokyo, and Holy Hannah they are LIGHTYEARS better here in Asia.  They are sweet and crunchy and so abundantly juicy I'm always drooling most of mine down my front, and they are ridiculously delicious.  Asian pears at home taste sterile in comparison.  They've become my breakfast staple over here.

After I got back to my guesthouse and inhaled my lunch in 0.2 seconds, I realized how early it was in the afternoon and decided to pack up and head out a night early since I wasn't enjoying the guesthouse itself, it was raining and crap outside, and I had covered pretty much the entire town already -- what was the point in hanging around to fester in the gloom?  I sat on the front porch reading my beloved Miss Austen for what seemed like decades (but was really a little over three hours) until the owner returned, and asked to leave early.
  By this time it was nearly 5pm and I just managed to snag the last train of the day.  Three long, not so fun train rides (due to my constant worrying that the hostel in Takayama would be closed for the night and that I'd be screwed) later I finally arrived in Takayama sometime after 10pm.  The guy was so wonderful and nice, carried my bag upstairs for me, handed me my fresh sheets and said goodnight, assuring me I could conk out and check-in in the morning.  What a relief!  I was so happy to be out of Matsumoto a day early, and Takayama is everything I was hoping it would be.  The hostel is fantastic, just opened a few months ago, and is large and clean and friendly and I'm looking forward to my next few nights here.


Fun aside: as I was sitting on the porch reading in Matsumoto, a Japanese man walked by and waved, said something or another, I shrugged, he came closer and smiled, and proceeded to carry on an entire rapid-fire conversation with me in Japanese.  The whole time I'm smiling and nodding and clueless as can be.  He was very friendly and apparently very surprised to find a guesthouse so far out of town (told you I had to forge a river -- and you thought I was joking), and I think making comments to that affect.  He waved goodbye and walked off, only to return a few minutes later and toss me a cold coffee from a nearby vending machine where he had apparently just bought himself one too.  It was so sweet, and I wanted to gush to him what a pleasant surprise it was, but of course couldn't, so merely squealed "domo arigato!" after him several times.
Yohashira Jinja
  How nice is that??
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View from the train climbing the m…
View from the train climbing the …
Ears popping in a long tunnel thro…
Ears popping in a long tunnel thr…
Soaked!
Soaked!
Yohashira Jinja
Yohashira Jinja
Yohashira Jinja
Yohashira Jinja
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
I know where the Star Wars people …
I know where the Star Wars people…
Old cannon in Matsumoto-jo
Old cannon in Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
View from Matsumoto-jo
View from Matsumoto-jo
old hats
old hats
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
View from Matsumoto-jo
View from Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto-jo
Matsumoto Timepiece Museum
Matsumoto Timepiece Museum
Bicycle lane (MUCH narrower than i…
Bicycle lane (MUCH narrower than …
Matsumoto City Museum of Art
Matsumoto City Museum of Art
Matsumoto City Museum of Art
Matsumoto City Museum of Art
Matsumoto City Museum of Art
Matsumoto City Museum of Art
Dangerous baked goods
Dangerous baked goods
YUM. Craving one now.
YUM. Craving one now.
A sweet azuki bean and matcha-flav…
A sweet azuki bean and matcha-fla…
Matsumoto
photo by: nidge76