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So today I made my wall all the way back to Nagano to pick up my camera. I walked into the Toyyoka Hotel, told them I was the one who left my "bideo kamara" behind, and then there it was! They even still had the plastic bag it was in from the Dalai Lama (this was how I forgot it in the first place). The Big Hat Stadium lecture made me turn in my camera, and then when I picked it up they gave it back to me in a bag which I used to carry my program. Then when I used the internet at the hotel, not being used to carrying an extra plastic bag, I forgot it. In honor of the Dalai Lama protecting my camera for almost a week with his pamphlet (I mean, come on, who could really steal a camera when there is all this Dalai Lama stuff inside with it?), I would like to post a quote:

Sometimes, when we are discouraged by a difficult situation, anger does seem helpful, appearing to bring more energy, confidence and determination. And while it is true that anger brings extra energy, it eclipses the best part of our brain: its rationality. So the energy of anger is almost always unreliable. It can cause an immense amount of destructive, unfortunate behavior. -Dalai Lama

And now, time to move on to Matsumoto!

I ended up taking a slow train to Matsumoto because it was much more direct, and it went through a much more scenic rout than heading all the way back down to Tokyo, switching trains, and then coming back up all most to Nagano again, just a bit further east.


The train didn't take too long though, and then there I was, at one of the 3 most famous castles in Japan, and Bjarke's favorite.


There were posters all around about getting a free guided tour, so I went to the booth and a nice older woman agreed to take me on a free one on one hour long guided tour of the castle! She said it is part of their foreign outreach program to boost international tourism in Japan. We began in the courtyard that she explained would have been filled with the nobility's homes if they all hadn't burned down as most of the historic Japanese buildings have done. This castle wasn't the original, but it was one of the oldest replica castles in all of Japan.

Matsumoto Castle (松本城 Matsumoto-jō), also known as the "Crow Castle" (烏城 Karasu-jo) because of its black exterior, is one of Japan's premier historic castles. It is located in the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture and is within easy reach of Tokyo by road or rail. The keep (tenshukaku), which was completed in the late 16th century, maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework. It is listed as a National Treasure of Japan. Matsumoto Castle is a flatland castle (hirajiro) because it is not built on a hilltop or amid rivers, but on a plain. Its complete defences would have included an extensive system of inter-connecting walls, moats and gatehouses.

Inside it was just the very basic structure of the original castle, and then everything else in it was a museum V_V; I was hoping for getting to see what the inside of the castle would have looked like hundreds of years ago, with the proper dining tables and chairs, etc. Oh well.


Built by the Ishikawa clan between 1592 and 1614, the famous castle was designed to survive gunbattles, although none were ever fought there. It featured square gun loopholes, widened toward the inside, for Samurai warriors to maneuver their guns. The structure also had projecting shelves called “ishotoshi,” constructed at intervals on the first floor for dropping stones on enemies attempting to scale the outside walls. An assortment of pistols, rifles, ammunition and other weapons — including a mini-cannon — sit on display. The central fortress, or “donjon,” has five stories and six floors. Short, steep stairwells throughout provide a real test on backs, knees and ankles.

And I don't know if you can tell by the picture, but the painting on the screen is of Japanese samurai fighting against the modern Japanese warriors with the above projectile missiles and cannons.


These are the views looking out the various windows of the castle. It was very interesting to look through, and the woman apologized the whole time for her poor English, so I refused to talk to her in anything but Japanese, just to make her feel better about how bilingual she was.

The following picture is a recreation of the room the last lord used to pray before battle. As this castle never actually had any gun battles fought on castle grounds, I guess this room is truly magical.


After seeing the castle my tour guide asked me if there was anything else I wanted to really see in Matsumoto, and that she would do her best to direct me. I told her other than climbing the mountain, which I didn't have time for, that I had no idea. So, she directed me to the meuseum you could get in for free by showing them your castle ticket, so I crossed over the gardens and one street, and here I was:

Awesome dols depicting real people in Japan's history (I think):

Best exhibit of randomness ever:

Yeah, its what you think it is:

And I really wish I had more, but my video camera ran out of batteries, and now my camera phone was full with photos from Sapporo and Shiritoko. I ended up taking a few more, but had to delete them along the way, especially for this guy I passed on my way back to the train station:


So cool!

Now it was time to head back to Tokyo for the last time.

Last pic for today, train leaving Matsumoto:


Joe had been emailing me all day about me stopping in Tokyo for the night as it is on the way to Kamakura. I had one night between my molestation and my new couchsurfing place, so I agreed. We didn't actually say goodbye goodbye. Last I saw him he was still sleeping at Shelly's place. I'm not sure what he got up to this week, as the only contact we have had has been his emails that he already has a place booked for us for the evening. Its a hostel near where we stayed before in Tokyo, so I shouldn't get lost. Its also separated by male and female, so no worries about having to bunk near each other. Just spend the night where a booking has already been made, then say a proper goodbye, it was the least we could do right. Now, for the first time, Joe was leaving the next day, without me. 1 Adult ticket purchased, that was new, Oneway, we never have bought a ticket roundtrip, that at least was of the norm.

Travelers: 1 Adult/s
Fare: 404.00
Taxes & Fees: 50.67
Sub-Total: 454.67
Flight 12
Operated by Jetstar
Tokyo Narita 08:25pm-
Gold Coast 06:55am

I met Joe late at night, so we talked for a bit about what we had been up to. Joe had hung out all week in Tokyo, and I, well, you know. The next morning I felt a bit of nerves. Were we really going to do this? Life was so much easier when I don't have to say goodbye. I'm no good at it. Joe was in his grey sweatshirt with the black flame in the center. It had been my shirt for most of the trip, and it only went back in Joe's bag recently when we were on the shinkansen from Hiroshima. We had that fight post "we should break up" on the train, and I separated out our stuff right there and then. I made a bit of a scene about it. Joe said I didn't have to give him his shirt back yet. Yet? Yet? How about at all?! It would have been nice to know he cared about me enough to just offer the sweatshirt up, but I guess it was both of our favorites, so being that I was now the ex, in my mind at least, I suppose it was only reasonable that he get the shirt in the split. Him wearing it at that final goodbye seemed fitting. He looked at me, and I at him, and we didn't have words. He had his things all sorted to head out to the airport, even though his plane didn't leave until that evening. I still hadn't showered. He hadn't either, but that was beside the point. First we were going to say goodbye inside, but then we didn't. He brought me outside with him, and I said the thing that was on my mind. "Are we really doing this?" I'm not sure if the last two words came out proper... I was feeling a bit like I was loosing my voice...

He pointed out that I was the one enforcing the situation, of which I then replied that he started it. We were both teary eyed at this point, Joes eyes turned their usual pinkish red tint that comes when he is sad, tired, and not dealing with is insomnia. He put his backpack down and wrapped his arms around me. No one will ever hug me like him. We melted, his chin around my head and my leaking eyes held shut against his chest. I felt his fingertips hold into my upper arms, completely encompassing me with his reach. I didn't think I would cry. He didn't think we wouldn't. Well okay then! I laughed, and he smiled. There was a lot of nodding going on at this point. A lot of raised eyebrows and pursed lips, and then some more nodding. "I'll see you in Australia." His voice was so strange to me, I couldn't tell if it was a statement or a question. "Probably won't, its a big place." Vanessa, the pessimist. "Not that big," a statement not so much about its size, but about our inevitability to see each other again, and soon. I didn't agree or disagree, now really wasn't the time. One more hug, this time my face pointed up trying to see beyond his shoulder that was hunched over to reach me, my eyes blinking dryness into themselves. When we didn't pull away, I could feel the waterworks start up again. No, not again. I pulled away first. "Well, you had better get going, you've got all day to kill." That wasn't entirely true, it was very long to the airport, and I think he planned to hitchhike there. Joe gave me a look that said I was making shit up. I was, but I also knew we couldn't stand here all day, so I needed something to say, right? "Okay, see ya." I was going to say probably won't, but I have already tossed that bitter sweet comment in there. "Yep" I resined with. I watched him walk around the corner, we both waved goodbye.

Time for a goddamn shower!
Then I packed my things, got some breakfast, and headed out.

Now to board the short train to Kamakura, my last destination on my Japan trip (other than ending up in Tokyo where my plane for Australia departs). Today actually marks my last day of travel on my JR pass, but nobody ever checks the date, so I am going to try and squeeze out the ticket back to Tokyo from Kamakura using the pass, and if they catch me, its only like 6 bucks I think (like I said, short train ride from Tokyo).

I get off the train in Kamakura (PS Thank you Nono for showing me your Japan photos, I wouldn't have made it here if you didn't show me it was a must), and the sun is just a bit low in the sky. I grabbed some lunch (train areas are great places to grab food because they are always surrounded by mall like food-courts or local eating establishments. Then you go out into the city, and who knows when you'll find so much variety again? Or if they will be so nice to foreigners (we use trains a lot).

Now, for the adventure of my lifetime, finding my last couchsurfing house in Japan. Chemi, where the hell do you live?

She told me to get off at the east side of the station (Tokiwa Guchi) and get on the bus in front of Beck's coffee. Then at -:43 there should be a bus arriving, and it will get me to the exit I want at -:50, so I was not to stay on it long, but this would help me with directions, and it will cost 210 yen, and I was to tell the driver I wanted to go to Daibutsu (The Great Buddha).

I got off when the driver signaled me to, and there Chemi was to meet me (thank goodness!) because here are her directions if she ended up not being able to meet me:

1.) From Kamakura station, follow signs for the "Big Buddha"
2.) Walk to Yagumo jinja road intersection
3.) Turn Right (turning left will take you to the "Big Buddha"
4.) Walk to the first bus stop, cross the street, then turn left at the next street
5.) Walk past the wall painted with all sorts of art
6.) When you pass the statue of the angel bowing her head, turn right on the next street
7.) Follow the path curving up the hill to the left, then continue on it as it turns right going uphill
8.) Pass the bicycle parking garage with the small Buddha statue
9.) Go to call box #502 through the gateway with the kanji for exit (出)
10.) I will buz you in, then take the elevator to the 3rd floor
11.) Leave that elevator (goes directly up) and take the elevator that goes up diagonally
12.) Exit elevator, circle around the rooms clockwise, I am #502

Chemi lives with her family still, and neither of her parents speak English, so I tried my best to talk to them. Her father got a kick out of me, but her mom was worried. My voice was a little raspy. "Must be because I haven't used it all day," I told Chemi to translate to her mom. Her mom didn't seem to like that answer, and she asked if I would like some dinner. They had just finished eating, but apparently there was still food left. "Please, thank you" I told her, and she sat me down for some traditional Japanese food. There was soup and sticky rice with some sort of vegetables all tangled up inside. She kept trying to feed me, but I assured her that I had been snacking on the trains all day, so I was fine. Then Chemi's little nephew came in the room, and he and I spent the next hour together as Chemi finished up some papers she had to write. He was about one and a half, and he was a little confused as to why I communicated so funny, but eventually we got to tearing up some of my notebook and folding it into airplanes, and this he couldn't get enough of.

Chemi and her nephew:


When Chemi's older sister came home she put him to bed, and then I let Chemi know that I would probably do the same. I was so tired, so I felt bad just curling up on the mats in the living room while her father watched soccer, but I was really exhausted. Her father decided to go to sleep too, and so the house went dark and quiet, and I passed out (to sleep, not literally blacking out).

PS Here is an email I wrote to Laura "today" (a year ago today now that I'm writing this blog) just to give a sense of where I am:

"I have a sketchy connection right now, so I don't want to over task it.
Joe broke up with me, I was more okay with it than he hoped I'd be,
which hurt him about as much as he hurt me. Joe should be in
Australia now, and I leave the 7th. We are not meeting up like the
plan was before he broke up with me, I think I will get a job at a bar
or a cafe since I've been told that is really easy to do for temp
work. You should come to Australia and I will hike with you. I love
hiking. Next week I have no rail pass, so I should be in one place
allot, so look for me then!"

Joe was flying out at 8:25pm, and I wrote that email at 7:27pm.

Posted by - Rain 21:22

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I love the Dalai Lama's quote (as I usually do.)I can think of many times in my life, where I have seen things work this way.
When you said, "I ended up taking the slow train to Matsumoto..." it made me think of polka grandma, whenever someone was late, she would say, "What did you do, take a slow boat from China?"
Chemi and her nephew are beautiful.
Also, I love your note to Laura. You are such a good writer, "I was more okay than he thought I'd be, which hurt him about as much as he hurt me."
that says it all.

by georgi r

I remember that email. I didn't know how to feel except worried. I knew you'd be ok eventually because you're one of the toughest people I know, but I was sad I couldn't be there for you more.

Chemi and her nephew are adorable. And I love the toad and the giant dirty parts. only in Japan I suppose.

by Laurr

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