Day 8 – Around Matsumoto and onto Kyoto – Japan Holiday

Back in my Kyoto Coffee Shop after breakfast with the family and a stroll with Kerrie to the Train Station to buy our tickets for our 5:45am train to Kansai Wednesday morning to return to Kuala Lumpur.  The Kyoto Train Station is spectacular and if you visit make sure you take the escalators up all 10 floors to the viewing areas of the city.

Anyway time to blog about our time in Matsumoto.  This traditional city has one of the best preserved castles and so we took our time in the morning to visit this 400 year old castle.

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Matsumoto Castle, formally called “Fukashi Castle”, is one of four castles designated as ‘National Treasures of Japan’ and the oldest castle donjon remaining in Japan. Construction began in 1592 of the elegant black and white structure with its three turrets. Because of the elegant black walls, Matsumoto Castle is sometimes called ‘Crow Castle’. Inside the castle are steep stairs and low ceilings leading past displays of armour and weapons from the Sengoku period ("Warring-States") when the castle was built. The narrow wooden windows, once used by archers and gunmen, provide amazing views of the Japanese Alps, Matsumoto City and the koi and swans circling in the moat below.

Two different window styles

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Much of the Japanese construction of these castles and temples was without nails and so wood was interlocked and joined to form the constructs. The below is the view of the inside of the roof for the main tower on the 6th floor.

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Chillaxing and enjoying the view from the 6th (top) floor of the castle. This floor lies 22.1m above the ground and was designed to be used as the headquarters of the “war lord” (diamyoh) if the castle was under attack.

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Japanese Samurai

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As I stated in an earlier blog entry, walking around Matsumoto you experience the traditional aspects of Japan. This quaint old bookshop was wedged between the modern exterior of two new buildings including our hotel (Harmonie Bien). These two pictures, side by side, capture the beauty and contrast of Matsumoto.

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The drive to Kyoto was going to be a long one and so we had to leave soon after our visit to the castle.  To make the drive more interesting we did our usual stopping at roadside rests to explore different aspects of the modern Japanese culture and food!!!

The white items being grilled in the photo are just rice packed onto broad sticks. They warm them on the grill and then brush them with a thick sauce that tastes like a blend of soy sauce and the satay peanut flavour.

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Japan appears very big into recycling with special bins for segregating all rubbish found in most places we visited. The setup below was most impressive as it even had a section for emptying unfinished drink bottles before putting the bottle into its specific bin.

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