Matsumoto, the belly button of Japan

Well, there’s a lot that’s happened in the last two days.

To go from Nikko to Matsumoto, I had to catch a train to Tokyo’s Asakusa station (took the slower, cheaper one this time, not the Spacia), then Subway to JR Asakusabashi, then a JR train to Shinjuku, and then a bus to Matsumoto. About 6 hours in total. It didn’t seem that bad in the end. Glad I’m staying in each place for 2 days to get a feel for it. Tomorrow there is a bus service to Takayama thankfully, this is fairly direct. Woo hoo.

Anyway, what’s happened. Quick summary: Minshuku, food, sleep, cold, film processing, Matsumoto castle, shopping, William Gibson’s Neuromancer in Japanese, Internet cafe.

Okay, the long version.

Matsumoto is really nice. A mix of the old and the new. Wide streets (by Japanese standards) footpaths! and generally a great place, except for the cold. It seems this is a cultural center, art gallerys (with a new one opening soon,) music abd film festivals, etc.

Wanted to get some film developed, and as with Tokyo, it’s a 24 hour turn around, which didn’t work. But I had a lot of fun talking to the Kobini staff with lots of hand waving, and passing the Lonely Planet book between us. Anyway, found a place that could do it in about 2 hours. Ended up costing about 3 times as much as Sydney would be, and it was 5 rolls of film. Lets just say, I need to eat really cheap for a while to make up for it. Most of the shots are okay as well, which is good to see.

Ate dinner last night at an Indian resturant, run by a Turkish man. Go figure. Stupidly took expensive food option, and I got that salad with the mayonnaise with it. Oh well. For breakfast I had a Japanese brekkie because I couldn’t pronounce the words for a Western Style properly. And the owner has about 3 words in her English vocabulary.

Getting the bus yesterday from Shinjuku (in Tokyo) to Matsumoto, I was running a little late from lunch. So there I was, running for the bus yelling “Sumiasen! Sumimasen!” I think I made the bus leave 30 seconds late. I don’t think they were happy at that, but we got the Matsumoto 2 minutes early. We went throught about 5 toll gates it seemed.

So today.

Matsumoto castle was really good. After walking around in the rain this morning, discovering how much the photos cost, I was in a bad mood. Decided I’d go and see the castle anyway, and the weather got much better. As usual I got lost trying to find it, and turned a corner and there it was. It looked really good. I want one of those. Especially the moon viewing platform. That was cool. Bought the book for the place, the Japanese version was 1000 yen, the English version 1500 yen, go figure.

But I did score one major Japan trip goal, I got a copy of William Gibson’s Neuromancer in Japanese. The next one will be Phillip K Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.” or I think here it might be titled Blade Runner 1. Anyway, got to the book store and asked (and this was all in Japanese) if they had any William Gibson books. No. Okay, had alook around and thought, how about Lord of the Rings, it’s usually in the same section. Oh, it’s in a spearate section by itself. How about Star Trek? Star Wars? Okay, getting somewhere. Oh, film books. No I say, not film books. Science Fiction. No, not Popular Science. Sci-Fi? No. Eventually it dawned on them what I wanted, SF. Pronounced “esu-efu.” I remember that now. D’uh. So I got my book, and I know what to ask for as well.

I keep banging my head on doors. Some are only 180cm tall. I’m about 184cm with my shoes, but most places I bang my head (Minshukus) I wear slippers. I still bang my head.

Okay, got to stop now. Must eat.

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