We got there early, and as I was walking around I saw, what I suspect is a sign of Spring in Kanazawa: they were removing the snow supports from the trees!
I bought ekiben (station bento- eki=station, ben=bento) at the station for lunch on the train & Charlie bought a couple of tuna onigiri (rice balls). We boarded the train a bit before11:56 am for Nagano, where we will take a local express train to Matsumoto. Once on the train we got busy with lunch.
Here's the route we took today. We started at the far left in Kanazawa, then traveled along the ocean at the top of the map to the gold 5¥ coin, then south to Nagano, the next 5¥ coin below it. Then it was a short hop to Matsumoto, right below the silver 100¥ coin at the bottom. The red in the middle of the map are mountain ranges. In fact, Takayama, where we were a couple days ago, is just to the left of Matsumoto (it's circled) on the other side of the Hida Mountain range. I wish I could have gotten better photos of those mountains from the train. Really spectacular!
When we changed trains in Nagano I encountered another funny sign in the ladies room:
I guess they really don't want you to stand on the toilet seats...
We arrived in Matsumoto a little before 3:00 pm & caught a taxi to our hotel. The driver warmed up to us when we spoke Japanese to him, & he asked us about our trip & where were were from. I love these random, fun encounters with folks :)
Once settled in our sunny hotel room, I made some tea (there's always a hot pot & tea available in Japanese hotel rooms) & we enjoyed some snacks that were in the room for us. The beanies came out to join us for the treat.
Then we bundled-up and took a walk around the neighborhood to orient ourselves. It was partly sunny but very windy & about 46 degrees F. We visited the tourist info center nearby & asked about local restaurants. The young woman there spoke English & there were maps & guides in English as well. There is a book shop very near the hotel that is absolutely gorgeous, squished between two modern buildings. It's also a pokestop :)
Then we took a walk toward the little river that runs through Matsumoto, crossing a lovely arched bridge.
As we wandered we looked for interesting places to eat, & found one! It's a wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) shop with a little restaurant in back. What drew us to the shop was a sign out front advertising anmitsu, which is like a parfait, but with ingredients like red bean paste & fruit. When we noticed they had dinner food as well, we went in. Their specialty is food with chestnuts in them, so the rice in our meals had chestnuts in it as well.They were sweet & yummy. There was also koyadofu (dried tofu that's reconstituted when boiled) with boiled local vegetables, miso soup, & pickles.
I had anmitsu for dessert & Charlie had ice cream with a sauce from local grapes.
The restaurant looked over a pretty garden.
On our walk back to the hotel we saw old buildings that used to be storehouses, an important feature of the neighborhoods by the river.
This building is actually a micro-brewery. We also saw a little shrine dedicated to a local frog-god of martial arts:
Tomorrow we'll visit Matsumoto Castle, just a couple blocks away, and most likely eat more yummy food! Woo hoo!!!