Published: June 7th 2008June 7th 2008
Yet another masterpiece of architecture this time surrounded by a moat. And the only one to be traditionally restored in Japan. Gardens free to enter in daylight hrs.
The shrill of the station voice over of Matsu motooooooo, Matsu motoooooooo woke me up after a chatty but sleepy trip northwards into Nagano prefecture from fuji go ko.
This is THE Japan alps, the reason so many Aussies, particularly, come for snow boarding, skiing, and teaching english it seems.
Matsumoto was my base for the past 2 nights, staying with the Yasuyado family at Kaze no yasuyado, about 2.5km on the outskirts of town, and besides the rushing water of the Susuki river. That was a lovely way to be lulled to sleep after some hard yards up Fuji, and I slept like a baby being the only one there....this is the off season, and I have a feeling many do not know of this place unless they have really done some internet searching. Yasuyado san was the ultimate host, picking me up at 8pm which is his cut off time, and returning me two days after, today, to the station. Their home is downstairs, whilst there are 3 dorm rooms and two showers/ loos upstairs, and you can use the bikes, kitchen etc as you wish. His wife and himself always seemed to be slugging it out with washing,
matsumoto castle entranceway
Kept the baddies out and the goodies in!
cleaning, tidying the house, running errands and possibly running a business in 'erebeetaas' according to the katakana script on his car. Busy life!
Yasuyado san was unrelenting in his desire to make me feel at home, and I was very embarrassed and remorseful at what happened the next day when I borrowed his bike to the station..........you guessed it, something went amiss. But first, so it was my plan to do what every lonely planet reader is suggested to do in these parts....visit Magome and walk to Tsumago. And this time the guide books were right, and not wrong as happenned with Beppu accommodation!
Now the walk was a brilliant end to a hard walk the previous day on Fuji to station 5. An easy 7.5km across rolling hill villages, winding cobbled paths, beside streams and through thick redwood forest, you can add on 4.1km once you make Tsumago if therer are no buses (8/ day evidently) or happy to go the extra miles...and it is worth it. At every turn, azaleas, bright flower boxes in old cottage windows, water wheels, rice paddies, roaring currents in the river below, and scenery of traditional ountry life untouched by souvenir
Kaze no Yasuyado inn
to bright to see, the alps are in the distnce....with snow!
tack or overtourism. I am talking undies hanging on lines next to Ma in the garden working the garden edger next to people praying in the nearby jinja (temple)....real authentic, and next to Hagi and nishi honshuu, my 3rd favourite place to be, so far!
So what went amiss you wonder? Surely Pauine has picked up her 'atama' (head) by now and not left it on the train?? I basically left the bike, at Yasuyados sugestion, at the station front, as there, he told me, were no bike parking areas. The bike has two locks - a rear wheel clamp type thing, not what I am used to, with a tiny key, and a proper bike lock, which I am very familiar with!! So I ran for the 10.52 train with keys in hand and boarded in time, only to find I had only one key in my pocket....surely it had not come from my hands? So I stressed all the way to Nakatsugawa, the point where you take the bus to Magome, and tried to convey that it may be in Matsumoto station to the station attendant. I then got a lecture that it was'ikenai' (I had no
leisure by the Susuki river
bikes, crocquest players, joggers, and power walking retirees, all in glorious inland sunshine
clue what this meant, until I consulted yet again the jisho, to see it is 'not the done thing', i.e. wrong!) and that if it was found they would retain it.
Then I met up with this American tennis coach guy called Casey from Virginia, who had a mad itinerary like me, and we bused together to Magome, discovering its entrance, until parting company to take photos and a different pace. I was keen to get to Tsumago in the 2 hrs sugested, so as not to miss a train back again.....the next one took twice as long. So I forgot about this minor catastrophe again and had a lovely walk, to be greeted at the final station by a lovely older attendant who seemed to assure me all waswell and that something was 'motte imasu' (held at Matsumoto). So then after returning to Matsumoto, I found a note on the bike, still at the front, which I did not understand, but no key for the 2nd lock! Bugger, a long walk home was okay but how bad I felt for Yasuyado san. After several intense conversations about the same thing with customer services, station staff and tourist information,
Matsumoto hive of weekend activity..kiddies jogging with dad, mums out walking babies in prams, and retirees out for power walks
it was a big fat 'nai desu', i.e. nothing found.
By now I was in need of some tidying up and pampering, and so launched forth to the nearest mall for a haircut and associated hair salon chit chat, even if it was in japanese! My attentive hair cutter took my 990 yen via a card machine, and proceeded to make it 'mijikaku' at the back, 'nagaku' at the front. Did I want a 'bobbu'? ...well not really keen for a bob the builder haircut, but settled for a modified 'bobbu'! Now she would be a most impressive hairdresser if she made my hair longer (nagaku) out of thin air at the front, but a general tidy up was performed for a princely sum even Just Cuts would compete for!
Then after also discovering that a slab of meat to make my face brighter would cost me a arm and leg, and that the fish I could eat might well indeed be Whale, I headed home for an I am sorry chat with Yasuyado san. He was okay about it, I felt terrible. I had tried everything I could but to no avail, and in my embarrassment left them
Star point, Magome
This walk is a must...only 7.5km (extra 4.1km if no bus or you're a hard core hiker, to the Nagiso train station!) and plenty of loo stops, few food places, and quaint villages
an omiyage from Kochi ken when I left today, some local sweet biscuits I bought.
So what is there to see in Matsumotoooooo.....well, the castle is lovely, the old kaichi primary school neighbourhood, an historic place, is beautiful, and there are several shrines such as Tsukama, nr the hostel, and Matsumoto, worth spending quiet time in. The spacious Agataomori park in the eatern city of 200,000 people, is also worth a visit for a small score of joggers, power walkers and kiddies playing..... there are also good onsen in the mountains nearby but it was so hot that is the last thing I'd do (28C). Areal central Otago kind of place, with alpine views from almost anywhere in the modern, laid back city.
Next is Kanazawa, home to kenrokuen park, Kanazawa joo, and the most beautiful harp playing I have ever heard....
There are more photos below