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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

2016 JAPAN SAKURA ADVENTURE: Day 18--Nikko to Matsumoto

This was my 4-train day, and worse, I decided to leave two hours earlier, meaning that I had to re-schedule the trains.  There are smoking rooms at Shinkansen stations.  They're always packed.  Can you imagine how you would smell after a few minutes in there?

I've never seen a female in any of these rooms.  I had breakfast and lunch on the Bullet Train to Tokyo, then the Azusa to Matsumoto:

I checked into another REI hotel, again located across the street from a JR station (I'm beginning to feel that these REI's, even though they cost around $20/day more than the Toyoko Inns, are the better value).  I did some research and found that REI's belong to the Tokyu Group, which is into transportation, department stores and hotels.  They own, for example, the Mauna Lani Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii.  I once regularly stayed at the Capitol Tokyu in Tokyo, which was the original Hilton in Japan.

I then took a walk up to Matsumoto Castle.  May 5 is Children's Day in Japan, and is the final day this year for Golden Week, which begins on April 29.  Don't think about traveling in Japan during this period.  Carps once commemorated Boy's Day, but these colorful fish are now flown for Children's Day:

The Sakura was way past peak in Matsumoto, but some flowers remained, here at Matsumoto Castle, which is the oldest castle in Japan, having been built late in the 16th century.  The original wooden structure remains:

Yes, my Blue Bar Pigeon made an appearance.  Most of the cherry blossom petals were in the moat:

At this point I thought I saw a gold koi.

She then disappeared under the petals.

There must be two gold kois living here, for this one seemed larger.  Here is Pearl's Gold Koi in a photo I took a year or two ago:

Matsumoto is known as The City of Music, where Conductor Seiji Ozawa has hosted an annual festival now for over 20 years from mid-August into September.  The Suzuki Method violin school is headquartered here, for the founder, Shinichi Suzuki, is from this city.  He finally passed away in 1998 at the age of 99.

On the way back I purchased a plate of sashimi, a bento, and sake and beer brewed in Matsumoto:

Matsumoto beer and sake, best sashimi yet on this trip (toro/himachi/scallops), miso soup, green tea and a fabulous bento from Inoue.  Tomorrow I return to the Tokyo Westin, and the next day, perhaps  my pal Tadashi will arrange an interaction with a "friend" he might suggest as a possible candidate for the 2018 around the world cruise.  Life can sometimes be an adventure.

Tropical Cyclone Fantala has formed in the Indian Ocean.  Now already 100 MPH, the projection is strengthening into a Category 4, and passing around the north tip of Madagascar and the way to Tanzania:


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