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]