Itinerary Preview: Matsumoto

Our next stop will take us into the Alps of Japan to the town of
Matsumoto, which is near Nagano of recent Olympic fame. Matsumoto is
famous not just for fantastic mountain scenery but also for one of the
best original castles in Japan. I have visited other castles, but
they were all reconstructed after having been destroyed during WWII.
This castle is the real deal as it was built between 1592 and 1614.
The museum on the castle grounds highlights two local specialties of
interest to Ellie and Trip: handmade armor and beautiful dolls. It
will be a little early in the trip to start hauling around souvenirs
though so we will have to restrain ourselves... or find a shipping
office. We will be spending two nights in an historic ryokan (inn)
called Marumo which has been operating since 1868. They serve a
traditional Japanese breakfast of grilled fish, rice, soup, and
pickles - yum! If we have time, Matsumoto is home to a Ukiyo-e
(woodblock print) museum. It is also the birthplace of Shinichi
Suzuki and headquarters of the Suzuki Music Method, which Ellie
follows to study classical guitar. The guitar won't fit in our
suitcases, but it would be fun to visit or even see a concert here.
Mostly, we are looking forward to exploring the castle and wandering
the streets of the historic merchant's district as we transition from
modern to historic Japan.

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