May 242007
 

Well I’m kinda in the Japanese Alps National Park, or at least pretty close to it.
I left Nagano yesterday and got to Matsumuto. A much smaller city and the best vibe to it so far, even though I’m not doing very much there. I think the vibe is increased just having my own hotel room for a couple of nights.  It’s cheap, but has signs of ageing, in particular the stereo in the room….
I pestered the tourist info place again and took a train to a place called Hotaka today, hired a very feminine bicycle and cycled to a wasabi farm, and had some wasabi ice cream, which was actually quite nice.

.(Picture : My lovely bike in Hotaka)

The most frustrating thing at the moment is having (very hazy) views to some pretty spectacular looking mountains, and not having the gear, or the people to do them with. There is still quite a lot of snow on them, and all the routes in the Hiking in Japan book are multi-day “jeez I wanna do that” kinda routes.
So tomorrow I am planning to get a bus to Kamikochi which is a superb place for hiking. Unfortunately it also has superb prices on all the accommodation there so no overnighting. Boo. I’m expecting pretty awesome views from there but will only be walking around the valley.

(Picture : The scenic part of the wasabi farm)

From there I may head back to Matsumuto, or ideally get a bus to take me onto a place called Takayama which is meant to have managed to hang onto its historic charm.

(Picture : Matsamuto castle)

In Kyoto I’ve made contact with someone there through couchsurfing who is going to take me through a Japanese tea ceremony on Monday, so that’s where I’ll be hitting on Sunday night and staying for a few days.

I got another mention in the The flightless writer blog today on the weekly tour and got a few extra hits, and an enquiry about travelling this area in Japan. All good.

I’m also getting more into travelling in Japan. When I was visiting the Monkey Park I thought I’d get pretty bored not meeting other westerners but I’m starting to enjoy pestering the tourist info people (while they speak English!), and making hand signal conversations (like taking my dirty laundry out of the bag to find a coin-op washing machine). I even did what I always feel I have to do in a new country….get a hair cut.

Anyway, I have some email catching up to do, but I guess I better make this stay in the internet cafe worthwhile. I had to ‘join’ for 200 Yen, show ID, get a wee plastic card as a member etc. before I could check my email. The net cafes here are as described though – drink and food machines, game lounges, overnight private booths, comics and magazines, and this one even has its own video room, table tennis and dartboards.

There is one bad thing though. There are good outdoors shops here.
Yesterday in Nagano I bought a titanium spork (only 3 quid), mug, and today I ended up buying a funky little outdoors mug just because it had a climbing karabiner as a handle……….I mean how cool is that!?

Oh yeh, and like I needed another top that’s probably too small for me….

Anyway, sorry no pictures as I don’t have my laptop.

 Posted by at 10:54 am

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