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Monday, April 14, 2014

MUFA Day #8: Nagano

My Ultimate Fantasy Adventure, Day #8, was similar to #7.  I just caught the bullet train to Nagano, visited a Buddhist temple and saw some flowers.  My train trip has not yet really started, but already I've used as much value on my Japan Rail Pass as I totally paid.

Nagano in 1998 hosted the Winter Olympics,  I happened to be taking my sabbatical at Nokodai that year, as sponsored by Professor Tadashi Matsunaga.  He is now president of that University, in his second term.  I'll be having dinner with him tomorrow night.  A year ago, my MUGA Day #13 was lunch with Tadashi and his wife, Mayumi, at Narisawa, the best restaurant in Asia.  The photo to the left is of that lunch.

About Nagano, it is 106 miles west of Tokyo and I had an unagi bento with a can of  Asahi Dry Premiere and a cup of sake:



All you see above cost around $30.  I find that a little inebriation makes the trip more relaxing, maybe because I'm traveling 200 miles/hour, sort of like karaoke singing.  I can't imagine doing that sober.

The attraction in Nagano is Zenkoji Temple, built in the 7th century.  Interestingly enough, it was founded before Buddhism in Japan.  While the cherry blossoms were three days away from peak, the effect was good enough:


There was a marriage:


And some color:


I caught a bus to the temple, and walked mostly downhill back to the train station.  I stopped by a liquor store and asked for their #1 sake, which I had on the Shinkansen back to Tokyo with fish cake and peanuts:


Another enjoyable day.  I might add that I have not seen a drop of rain and the temperatures in Japan have been in the 50's.  The weather will remain fine for the next two weeks.

Tomorrow, back to Jindaiji to see Pearl's statue and have lunch with her:


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