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24 March 2007 @ 07:20 pm
Day The Eleventh... And Then God Said: "Let There Be Shinkansen"  
So... Dusty and I got up early this morning (reasonably early, anyway, given how late we'd been up) and met my Japanese friend at the hotel, then hopped a cab to Tokyo station (he tried to pay, but we wouldn't let him -- divided between three people, though, the cab fare wasn't bad. Nice not to have to take the suitcases down all those stairs to various stations, though). He's holding onto my suitcase for a few days while I wander around north-central Honshu by backpack (I'd told him we'd meet him at Tokyo station, but he kinda short circuited all that -- the Japanese will go out of their way to help you if you're their guest, but I think he's done a lot even by Japanese standards). Our plan had been for Dusty and I to exchange/activate our JR Passes earlier today, but turns out we had to wait until 10AM, so we hung out in a coffee shop for a bit, then were the first two people in line, and got that all taken care of with minimum fuss.

After that, we said goodbye to my Japanese friend and grabbed the next shinkansen to Nagano, where we saw the temple at Zenkouji, which was fairly nice. Better, though, was the castle in Matsumoto, which was really cool. One of the three best castles in Japan, it's quite well preserved, and you can walk all the way through the interior. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't all that cooperative (cloudy all day, and rainy by the evening), but it's been so nice so far that it's really kind of hard to complain about it now. Matsumoto's a pretty cool place, too... I'll have to come back and visit it again someday when I have more time (and my feet don't hurt so much. My sunglasses were kind of annoying me inside the temple, too, which was kinda dark, and they kinda suck for using the laptop, but c'est la vie).

Had soba today with Dusty (apparently Matsumoto is known for its soba). It was okay -- but I think I like the nikudon the best still. After dinner, though, we split up -- he picked up his bags which he left at my hotel on the way to the castle, and I went up to my room here. So from here on, I'm really and truly on my own for a while, which will be interesting, especially as I wander farther from Tokyo and start attracting more attention (especially with my ridiculous sunglasses at night). I think I was worried about this leg of the trip before I'd started out from Denver, but now I'm just mostly going to miss the company, I think.

Soaked my feet in the tub for a bit, and I think I'm going to crash early tonight and recharge. The next couple of days I'm going to do everything possible to avoid walking anywhere (short of paying for taxis), but we'll see how that goes. Tomorrow I'm taking the trains to Niigata, and the day after, the slow trains all the way up to Akita. Hope the weather cooperates then, but it's hard to say for sure.

[see photos on flickr]
 
 
Current Location: Matsumoto, Japan
In the mood: soresore