14 Aug
Days adrift.  Click here to see our best and worst experiences so far.
Number of flights.  Click here to go to the itinerary page.
Bus, train and taxi rides.  Click here to see all posts relating to transport. (56 posts)
Miles walked.  Click here to see all posts relating to walking and trekking. (43 posts)
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Otters spotted.  Click here to go to our website about otters: amblonyx.com
...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

8 November 2015


17 October 2015

Today: explored Matsumoto castle, wandered around the couple of interesting corners of Matsumoto, jumped on the train, arrived in Tokyo just after dark, taxi to our hotel, met up with Tim and Vanessa again, walked out into the bright lights of Ginza, found a restaurant, went back to the hotel for a last drink, bed.

Matsumoto castle and a handsome samurai

Matsumoto castle and a handsome samurai

Our breakfast was memorable: a plate of toast sprinkled with oodles of cinnamon and some maple syrup, served with refreshing ice cream. It worked remarkably well with a coffee. The cafe was Eastern-European-fairytale themed. Japan! Actually, our first breakfast in Matsumoto the other day was also memorable: we spurned the chain coffee shop next door and went into a coffee house with an old-fashioned sign. Inside it was dark and cosy, done up exactly like a turn of the century Vienna or London coffee house, and we had coffee and cake. The other patrons were all older businessmen in neat suits, and before we left the owner and his assistant both gave us their business cards. Japan!

Matsumoto castle is better than Himeji. Quite apart from being less busy, it seemed to breathe more of history and permanence. Of course, that’s very relative; Matsumoto castle has been standing for about 300 years and that makes it one of the oldest castles in Japan. Back home we don’t think of a castle as “proper” unless it’s at least 600 years old. The most frustrating thing about visiting these Japanese castles is that I can’t close my eyes and imagine how life in them would have looked in the samurai era; where the food was cooked, how folk lived in them, how the defences were organised, who lived in them, etc. Without that it’s just a piece of impressive wooden architecture. I guess I’ll need to do my own research once we get home!

300 year old floors

300 year old floors

We’re on the 30th floor of our Tokyo hotel, and the view is seriously impressive. Oh dear… we really annoyed our taxi driver from the train station. We asked for the Park Hotel, but it seems that there are 3 or 4 possible hotels with “Park” somewhere in the name and he really wanted to be sure he knew which one. There was some wild gesticulating and grumbling before Maureen managed to utter the magic word “Shidome” and we were off.
View from our hotel room

View from our hotel room

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