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Saturday, April 19, 2014

MUFA Day#12: Matsumoto Castle

First of all, this is my arm, the one that forced me to return to Tokyo:


I won't be so gross as to show the wound, as I did my thumb.  I should warn you not to click on that.

I had a great breakfast at the Tokyo Westin:


I then caught the Azusa from Shinjuku to Matsumoto and saw seven hours of cherry blossoms.  I'll explain.  

First, there are three speed levels, the one I took to Matsumoto, which might be termed the Turtle Azusa, which took three hours, stopping at every station.  But this was Saturday, and I was lucky to get a Green Car window seat at the last moment.  The view was spectacular.  Can you imagine three hours of kaleidoscopic color?  Pink...gold...platinum...persimmon...lavender...the full spectrum.  Well, but perhaps not all cherry blossoms, for the fruit trees are in bloom and the spring flowers are out.  Here are typical scenes from the train:


Nothing too intense, but almost every view had flowers, for three straight hours.  There is a lot of pride here, and each homeowner wants to have the best.

It turns out that the track to Matsumoto is in the middle of a wide valley bordered by two mountain ranges capped with snow.  Thus, the temperature is cooler here, and, while the sakura in Tokyo and Kyoto have peaked, the ride to Matsumoto, including the city, was at prime peak.

It is about a half hour walk to the Matsumoto Castle.  The temperature was in the 50's and the sun was out.  Boys Day is on May 5, so the carps were flying:


Matsumoto Castle, which traces back to 1504:


All the white stuff are cherry blossom petals.  There is a large moat surrounding the castle with thousands of carp.  However, as I walked up to the water, incredibly enough, my very first sight was a gold koi which came up to welcome me:


There is, of course, a story to this, for the last time I was here I dropped a gel cap of Pearl's ashes, and this fish ate it.  I would say 90% of the carp are black, but there is only one gold koi.  So go to Matsumoto Castle the next time you're in Japan, and visit Pearl's carp.


Yes, the azaleas were also blooming.


I then caught the Super Azusa, which took only 2.5 hours to get back to Tokyo:


This train is newer and has more window space. I had a bento with cold beer and hot sake:


My arm did well, so I'll daily change my own bandage and on Tuesday move on to Sendai, then Aomori.

But that was not all, for dinner at the Tokyo Westin I had a teppan yaki meal, starting with a foie gras:


Then moving on to Kagoshima beef:


I then went next door to Compass Rose to taste my Yoichi 20-year whiskey.  Somewhere on this top floor I took this photo, and, while it looks like an eyeball, I can't figure out what it was:


Oh, I remember, top view of the whiskey over a hemispherical ice cube.

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In the Indian Ocean, Tropical Cyclone Jack suddenly appeared, and is moving in the general direction where they are searching for Malaysian Air 370.  Jack is expected to reach Category 4 strength, but weaken before getting anywhere close to the search site.


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