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Kenji and I decided to take a trip up to Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture to try out his new toll-road tags, which give him a flat 1000 yen rate on weekends. We got lucky, and hit the cherry blossom peak in Nagano as well!

We woke up early for the trip, since the drive is about 3 hours. An hour or two in, we took a detour to see a dam and mess around, then took another detour to a small lake. Several detours later, we arrive in Matsumoto to park and eat, then go see the castle!

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Dam pictures!

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It had warmed up a lot that week, even in Nagano which is higher elevation, but the spring green had yet to start here…

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Our second detour, to a “quasi” national park. Not sure how a park can be “quasi” national, but there you go!

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Cool torii gates across the lake, cool water, and a small shack

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And fishers. Lots of fishers.

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Yay, we made it… and perfect timing too!

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Our first view of the castle… nice!

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The moat and rows of sakura!

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I took a ton of castle pictures…

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Awwww

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A nice view of the “Japanese alps”, snow-covered even in mid-April

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The very shallow moat with a path of blossoms

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More views…

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And then we went inside.

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Some views looking out

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More inside

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Ornamental fish

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Castle and Cherry Blossoms

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More castle, since I couldn’t pick my favs so I just stuck them ALL up!

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Aww

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Okay, that’s it!

Next up we walked into downtown Matsumoto to check things out, and came across a clock museum which we HAD to go see of course! After we finished there, we walked near the station and ran right into the middle of a sake festival going on. Well of course we joined, and had a very good time, then found a place to eat, sobered up, and went to see the castle one last time at night before heading home.

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Clock tower outside the museum

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Japanese-style clock, which was really neat

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Record room

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Sake festival, woo!

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Lots of pictures of us for once!

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Matsumoto’s pretty pot-hole covers

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A blurry castle at night…

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And a lantern, last picture of the evening

Matsumoto-jyou is considered one of Japan’s three most beautiful castles, with good reason! I want to go see Himeji, the white castle, and compare the two!

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