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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Matsumoto Castle (Matsumotojo)

Before I went to Japan, my buddy Reno asked me which places in Japan I'd like to visit. One of the first places I'd mentioned was Matsumoto Castle. I saw a picture of it on the web, and it looked pretty amazing. So on Day three of my arrival into Japan, that's where we went.

Matsumoto is the second largest city in Nagano Prefecture. We traveled there by train from Nagano City and it took about an hour or more to get there. My main purpose was to see Matsumoto Castle, (Matsumotojo) one of Japan's original castles, but it's also a really interesting city as well, with all kinds of good shops and places to eat.

When we finally got to the Castle, I was in awe! It's this huge, dark, and very intimidating looking castle, built on a massive stone platform that sits in the middle of a pond! It's no wonder why in Japan they refer to it as 'The Black Crow' (or Possibly 'The Black Raven', as sometimes the translation is difficult). Built for defense, this castle is every bit as impenetrable as it looks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

...And now back to Japan

The first time I saw Zenkoji temple (my favorite temple of the ones I visited in Japan), it was raining and cold outside.

It was a bit of a trek up a hill in Nagano City to get there, and my buddy Reno and I were starting to get a little soaked. We weren't sure exactly how to get to Zenkoji, so we asked two young Japanese girls for directions. They were more than happy to help us--in fact they walked all the way up the hill with us, even though they were headed the other direction. They each held their umbrellas up over our heads to keep us dry. I couldn't believe how kind these people were, they were wonderful. I felt bad for the girl holding the umbrella over my head, because I am much taller than her, so I crouched down as far as I could when I walked. It must have looked pretty funny.

We would encounter this kind of kindness and helpfulness all over Japan. The people there were great!

Reno discovered these cows around the back of the temple in the garden. Neither of us could decipher the significance of the cows. Reno decided to ham it up a little. It was pretty funny (you had to be there):

Here is a big bell at the front of the main temple at Zenkoji. It's an amazing sound. The monks rang it a few times while I was there.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Back to Vancouver for a moment

I wish I had more time to work on my photography. Lots more photos to come.