Thursday, March 16, 2017

Japan 2017 Day 9: A Beautiful Day in Matsumoto

We woke to a beautiful sunny day- although, at 7:00 am it was 32 degrees F outside! Brrrr...

We had decided to have breakfast at the hotel buffet, and it did not disappoint. There was quite an array of Japanese-style food & Western-style food, and some crossover as well. I opted for the Japanese breakfast of rice, miso soup, pickles, and a little manju (steamed bun) with local greens inside.

Charlie had a bit of both, including beef stew with potatoes, a manju, tater tots (!) & toast :)

We had thought to do some wandering around Matsumoto Jo (jo = castle) but, I had a change in plans. I have had a sniffle since we got here, which got much worse at our hotel in Kanazawa, as the room smelled terribly of cigarette smoke, which I'm extremely allergic to. Charlie tried to change rooms but they were all booked up. Now the doctor I travel with (don't leave home without one!) informs me that I have bronchitis :(  The good news is that I'm not far enough along to warrant antibiotics, and I do have my inhaler & other medicinal helpers along. But I was too tired after breakfast to go out, so Charlie tucked me in & went exploring on his own so I could sleep. He took the beautiful header photo of Matsumoto Jo, built in the 1500's, on his walk, and this one from the castle garden, of plum blossoms:

He also got a really nice shot of the mountains that loom over the town:

Matsumoto being a castle town, there are wells all over the place, open for anyone to take a drink (they recommend that those in "delicate health" refrain, however). The water system dates back a few hundred years & wasn't replaced by modern pipes until the early 20th century. The wells all have names, usually of the families that tended them historically. Many of them are pokestops, too :)

While out on his exploration, Charlie found a baumkuchen shop that we'd seen yesterday evening on our way home from dinner. It was open, & he brought back some gorgeous samples from the shop:

The shop is called "Temari-ya". Temari are the decorative, string-wrapped balls that are a local craft speciality. Baumkuchen is something I've only ever found in Japan, although presumably it's originally from Germany, since the name means "tree cake" in German. They're made by brushing batter on a rod that rotates over heat, and layer after layer makes the cake look like the rings of a tree trunk when it's cut. These cakes were made from rice flour, the one on the right from brown rice & the one on the left from white. We ate the brown rice cake when Charlie came home, as a mid-morning snack, along with bottled Royal Milk Tea (for him) & green tea for me. It was delicious!

I felt well enough to go out after our snack, so we bundled-up (it was 42 F by then) and went for a walk. Charlie took me to the castle to see the blooming plum trees.  There was a very cute sign near the tour office at the castle:

We also visited the city museum, which is on the castle grounds. There were exhibits on the castle, local crafts, and a really pretty display of Hina Matsuri (girl's festival) dolls.

After the museum we walked over to the nearby Yohashira Jinja (Shinto Shrine) where I bought some omamori.

There is a statue of samurai frogs right next to it, which is the entrance to Nawate Street, a walking-only street along the river.

When we left the jinja, we saw this fun sign in the window of a cafe:

Just how big is that garden???

I wasn't feeling up to lunch food, but we found a sweets shop near the hotel & I had my favorite, zenzai (sweet red bean soup) with mochi. They served it with salty pickles, because it's believed that something salty with the sweet makes it all taste better. The seaweed pickles (black threads) taste almost like the salty licorice popular in Europe. It was so yummy!

Charlie had a cream puff & hot Royal Milk Tea:

We struck up a conversation with the ladies who ran the shop, & Charlie gave them a Rochester post card, which prompted one of the ladies to give us one of their postcards :)

After "lunch" (not really lunch :) we both rested. For dinner we decided to be adventurous, so we found a pasta place, called "Pasta Casa", across the river, that had been recommended at the tourist center. They said it closed at 7:00, so we got there a little after 6:00 and were his last customers of the day. We ordered salads & pasta dishes, penne with meat sauce for Charlie & spaghetti with shrimp & mushrooms for me. It was all prepared fresh & absolutely delicious!

It was getting too cold to wander after dinner, so we headed back to the hotel. Everything we've done in Matsumoto has been less than 10 minutes walk from the hotel, and I feel like we barely scratched the surface of this pretty town! We had the other delicious baumkuchen for dessert & are hoping for a restful night, because tomorrow we take many trains so that we can meet-up with Momo & Hiroko & their kids for a fun weekend in Nikkou!

1 comment:

  1. Brennan showed me your blog - looks like an awesome time so far!!! The food looks so exotic and delicious! Love seeing all your pictures. Safe travels! - Melissa