Tuesday, April 1, 2008

day 93 - Matsumoto to Nagano

Matsumoto people may not agree, but I think Matsumoto Castle is the second-most beautiful original castle in Japan (the first being Himeji-jo, naturally.) Built from 1592 to 1695, it's built on a plain, rather than a hill but is nevertheless both functional and superb to look at.
After seeing this castle in the snow, we warmed up inside the nearby City Museum and were taken by the Matsumoto-temari. Originally kids' bean-bags for throwing, they've evolved into bouncing balls highly decorated with scraps of woven material, ribbon and embroidery with exquisite detail. Leaving the JR station we saw a fantastic display of some miniature human figures which appear to moulded from wet paper or bark. The 'motion' in these frozen figurines was astounding. Does anyone know what these are or where they come from?
In the afternoon we caught another train to Nagano and visited the ancient Zenkoji Shrine where we snapped these freshly-costumed statues...

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