Japan Trip 2023 – Day Six

May 9th

Once again, the day begins to the sound of a crow calling.

Is four degrees and there are snow capped mountains outside my window.

Plan today is to do some much needed laundry and visit the castle, then see what happens from there. Hoping I can remember how to ride a bicycle.

No misogi this morning.

It seems I am not alone in the ryokan and have no wish to share my ritual with naked strangers, unless they are also participating. It is not a spectator sport.

Breakfast was excellent.

At first I thought they were a little lost with how to find enough food for a vegan, which explained the seemingly odd addition of a hash brown. But there was more than enough food without it, including some tempura vegetables. Each small vegetable dish was prepared differently and each one a delight in their own right. Nice to have a little extra protein in the form of yuba in the miso soup.

A good Japanese breakfast is a joy to all the senses that exceeds the sum of its parts. Only enhanced by not having eaten since the last one.

I did notice the Japanese guest rejected their natto.

A little wobbly, but yes, I can still ride a bike. Last time would have been before Zoe was born. Brings back fond cycling memories.

Sitting in a laundromat waiting; also brings back memories, fond and otherwise.

Brief trip to a local shrine while the washing is being done.

Is a large shrine and when I approached the main building, I noticed someone at the entrance to the grounds watching me from the footpath, they were some distance away, but they were not moving off, just standing there staring. It was slightly disturbing and I wondered whether they were making sure the ignorant and blasphemous gaijin was not going to take photos of the inner sanctum. (I did, but not so they would notice).

Eventually I moved towards the entrance by a less direct route and they then approached the inner buildings. Turns out they were just waiting for me to be done, so they could have their turn.

Walking is poor preparation for cycling. Back at the ryokan; my legs hurt. Looking forward to a recuperative bath later.

Managed the day using only old style analog tourist maps, no apps at all.

Castle was very good, both it and the surrounds were beautiful.

Is a very small castle, not the smallest I have visited, but certainly the second smallest. I may have seen an information board that said 12.67 Matsumoto castles would fit inside one Aizu castle.

Or I may not have.

Many of he staircases were only one step removed from being ladders and all were narrow enough to cause regular bottlenecks as people needed to go both up and down. Claustrophobic samurai would have been forbidden to carry weapons inside the castle.

Many beautiful flowers in the grounds and the moat was a stunning shade of green.

The carp in the moat could easily swallow a small child whole and patrolled the banks like U-boats.

From the castle I went to the two craft / art streets recommended by many internet sites and the ryokan proprietors for gifts. Perhaps something for Zoe’s birthday?

Just more expensive tourist crap that no one needs and less people should want.

From here to an enormous shopping complex.


Perhaps something for Zoe’s birthday?

Just stepping inside the building may have put my body project back by two years.

The hobby / toy shop full of anime had some promise, but no, was a cartoon illusion.

Stopped at a supermarket on the way back to the accommodation.

Found some very expensive savoury vegan tofu sticks and stocked up on kombu – one fifth the price you pay in Australia, when you can find it and that is before postage. Also beer and sake.

Hope is that protein loading in the late afternoon will stave off the emotional crash and the cry for counselling from already stressed out Tanwyn. So far seems to be working.

Still lonely, still missing them both.

Poor timing on the bath.

Interrupted minutes after beginning the preparatory washing. Have not shared a public bath since the horror opulence spa of Dragonsword. There are not enough pages left in the journal to revisit those days, but suffice to say, this one was fine; a little awkward for the two of us, but fine. And both of us seemed content that neither was one of those chatty bath companions. Not quite pushing the boundaries, but nudging them a little.

That said, the bath was hot and relaxing and is, as we write, working its magic, so I can tomorrow, literally, get back on the bike.

Cold, after bath beer, very good.

Almost bed time.

Pleasant evening texting Tanwyn about honeymoon / wedding ideas – very exiting.

Cannot find the Matsumoto castle information leaflet provided at the gate. Lost? With the missing nuts? But I found and ate those.

So many Japanese “cooking” shows are less about how to cook and more about watching people’s / celebrities’ reactions to eating food. Why are people watching this? Why am I?

Too much sake.

Time for bed.

Leave a Reply