posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Matsumoto


I got up at 5 in the morning to attend the dawn ceremony at Zenko ji and was really surprised to see that it had stopped raining and clouds were breaking. The ceremony was well worth the early rise; it involved about 15 monks and lots of kneeling in the Hondo where the chanting lasted about 30 minutes. Every few minutes a group of 5 were allowed to kneel between the two ailes of chanting monks, something really special to experience.
At about 9 I was riding trying to find my right way south out of Nagano. Asking directions I was more than once given the wrong information from locals mostly trying to get me to Matsumoto through the freeway! Out of the city I finally found route 403 a magnificient alternative to the bigger roads reaching Matsumoto. It involved a bit of climbing between lush forests and most importantly hardly any traffic at all. Reaching Matsumoto dark clouds hovered on the horizon so I decided to play it safe and forget my camping ideas and find a ryokan instead. Matsumoto has one of the 3 only remaining original japanese castles left in the country. I met Murray a guy who was sharing the room with me in Nagano and we visited together the interior of the castle. I enjoyed the visit yet the exterior is particularly beautiful and I made sure to return in the evening where it is all lit up, reflecting on the surrounding lake. My friend typhoon 14 seems to have booked his holidays and according to forecast I wish I had not heard he wants to come with me to Takayama!
Wishing for more sun I am still having a great time here in Japan.