Sunday 8 September 2013

Day 15 -Matsumoto

It rained heavily all night and all morning, finally easing around 4pm.

We took the opportunity to wash clothes and dry out our shoes, wearing flip-flops outside and visiting the Japan Ukiyo-e (woodcut) museum, where we enjoyed prints by some of the Edo period masters in our hotel slippers. Edo is characterised by 'floating' elements, and Hokusai's Red Fuji, (Japan's best known woodcut artist- famous for the iconic 'Great Wave' and some of Utamaro's prints of courtesans were on display.

In the afternoon, wandering the traditional wooden shops with borrowed umbrellas, we discovered a local delicacy: sticky rice with chestnuts. Simple but very tasty.

As the last of the rain eased and trees dripped on the gravel path around the moat of the castle, we found a dry spot and sketched.

In the evening, Coca dragged us into a tiny bar on a side street. The locals looked slightly horrified that we might cause trouble, but after lots of 'sumamasen' (excuse me) and arigato gosaimas (thank you very much) we managed to appease them. Asking what would they recommend, the table in the corner shouted suggestions and we ended up with hot and juicy boneless chicken with the leg bone as a lollypop stick deep fried in tempura- beating KFC hands down!

Several beers later, the owner presented us with a gift- an ink and watercolour sketch of a tiger and dragon! So unexpected, but typical of the generosity we have experienced here. We gave them our cycle japan cards and thanked them profusely before winding our way back to the hotel.

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