Friday, May 14, 2010
The pleasant alpine town of Matsumoto is one hour south of Nagano by train. Despite the potential for crowded trains, our trip down was easy and the clear day made for spectacular mountain scenery. Nagano prefecture really shows why these mountains are called the Japan Alps, the high craggy peaks really do recall their European namesakes.
Nestled along side a traditional shopping district is this delightfully strange samurai frog statue. It really is the sort of whimsical and strange thing that can only be found in Japan. Samurai frogs aside, the prime reason for a stop in Matsumoto city is its castle.
Matsumoto is one of the few remaining 'original' castles that has been rebuilt in modern times. Like most of the rest, the keep was slated for destruction during the Meiji Era, but it was saved by local citizens who wanted to preserve their gorgeous landmark.
It being Golden Week, to actually enter the main keep would have taken at least two hours. We all decided that we had the photos we had come for, and that a retreat from the hordes of tourists was in order. Standing in line through the entire structure just didn't seem like that much fun.
Nobody regretted the trip though, the day was beautiful, the castle striking, and the Mos Burger we had for lunch was delicious!