I had to go into Matsumoto for a meeting at Asama Onsen. It was a lunch meeting, and I was treated to Matsumoto’s specialty, “sanzoku-yaki” (see below). We also stopped by the bicycle specialty shop there (also see below). After the meeting, I scooted over to Matsumoto Castle. A guest the previous day had said the castle’s cherry blossoms were starting to bloom. Plus the sky was clear, and the Alps still had snow, so I figured it would be a beautiful sight.
I wasn’t disappointed! There were all kinds of people — locals, tourists, families with kids, grannies and grandpas; all doing all sorts of things — strolling, singing, napping, taking pictures (like me). The magnificent crow-black castle, the brilliant blue sky, the pink blooms of the cherry trees, and the touch of white on the Alps all made for spectacular scenery for photographing. But it was the beauty in the details that struck me. A white swan gracefully swimming with the black castle in the background. A grand cherry tree perfectly framed by one of the castle’s gates. And what I really liked was the scene of the delicate cherry blossoms set against the massive boulders making up the walls of the moats. It was one of those, “This is why I came to Nagano” moments.
Matsumoto is famous for “basashi” which is raw meat of, well, let’s just say my rodeo cowboy friends wouldn’t be happy with what animal the meat is from. Anyways, I just had the pleasure of trying another Matsumoto specialty, “sanzoku-yaki” chicken. The dictionary says Sanzoku is a bandit. This chicken is basically like “kara-age” fried chicken except that instead of the chicken being cut into small chunks, a whole thigh for example is fried whole. Maybe the bandits were on the run and didn’t have time to cut the chicken first? Anyways, when you go to ‘Moto, keep your eyes (and taste buds) out for Bandit Chicken.
After my meeting in Matsumoto, I stopped at the Bike Ranch bike store to get my road bike tuned up. I met the owner, Raita-san. He was an Olympic Athlete at the Sydney Games. Raita-san opened up his shop a year ago, and has been active in building mountain bike trails in the Matsumoto area. Civic improvement via cycling — way to go!