Lesson 18: Seeing red in Matsumoto 

Dear readers,

So after one lovely night in Hakone it was time for me to move to Matsumoto, a small town nestled within the Japanese Alps. 

The train journey was approx five hours and involved heading back towards Tokyo. 

I love the train service in Japan (I’m already spoilt with good train service in Switzerland) but in Japan the trains are just so quiet and if people talk to one another then it’s in a soft whisper. Telephone calls are to be made outside the carriage.

The train journey was lovely. Again escaping the cities and heading more and more in land. The scenery was stunning featuring small traditional looking towns punctuated by a flash of red and gold from the autumn trees. 

I arrived at Matsumoto Station at approx 1430 and went in search of my hotel (which was luckily easy to spot, with it’s bright yellow sign screaming SUPER HOTEL).

My first impression of the city was of how quiet it was. Serene would be the word I’d use. Sure there were plenty of people and cars, but there was no rush. 

I checked into my hotel,  which was a typical business hotel,  and immediately headed off to get lost in the city. 

The weather was again beautiful, the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky was to be seen. 


I walked along the main street which had a few old-fashioned looking department stores until I came to a bridge where I caught my first glimpse of the most magnificent autumn scenery I have yet seen.

After taking a few autumn selfies (has to be done – and proud to say that I am still not in possession of a selfie stick) I started walking towards the shrine.

I am not entirely sure which adjectives I could use to justify the breathtaking beauty of what I witnessed,  but I hope my pictures can help you to imagine the scene. 

There were also a few families doing photoshootings in front of the shrine and I saw the most gorgeous little girl dressed in a pink kimono with flowers in her hair. I really wanted to take a photo but I was too shy to ask. 

I must have spent an hour taking as many pictures as possible (my phone storage is dangerously low as my phone likes to constantly remind me).

Tangent : that reminds me. I was quite surprised to see that Samsung has next to no market share in Japan and Apple completely dominates the market. My dreams of finding a cute phone case have unfortunately been crushed

I then started meandering towards Matsumoto castle. Again I was thankful for choosing to visit at this time as there were hardly any crowds in the castle park. Apparently in spring there is the most wonderful display of cherry blossoms and I can only imagine how packed it could get. 

The castle is nicknamed “Crow castle” due to it’s black colouring. It makes for a very dramatic effect in winter against the white snow. 

I managed to get some great shots of the castle just before the sun started setting (at 1630) until my tummy told me to go find a restaurant.  

I turned to TripAdvisor for a recommendation and saw that the top restaurant was an Indian curry restaurant. The thought of a delicious chicken curry and chai tea was so tempting that I decided to try it out. 

At first I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t really situated in the centre but rather down a little side street and then a little courtyard which was empty and dark, however the sign at the entrance gave away it’s position.

Before finding the restaurant I decided to have a coffee at the cutest little cafe. I also thought that 5PM was still a little early for dinner. 

The cafe was quaintly decorated and I told the owner that it had a sort of French feel to it. She replied that she was very happy about the compliment. We had a little chat before I left for the restaurant. 

“Doon Shokudo Indoyama” was quite difficult to find, mainly because I was looking for a large establishment but I was instead greeted with a small room with two small tables and the kitchen immediately behind. 

The owner Ashish greeted me and took my order. I decided on the pork special with chai tea. 

It was very refreshing to talk to Ashish while he was preparing my meal. It gave me a break from speaking broken Japanese and also gave me an insight of being a foreigner living in Japan. 

Apparently if Ashish wanted a Japanese citizenship he would have to change his name… 

I’ve always said that it’s been my dream to live in Japan and that turning down the teaching job in Osaka in favour of a career in health and safety was the biggest regret of my life. However I have now decided that actually it was the right decision. Living in Switzerland is amazing (I refer to it as the Japan of Europe) and I’ve met some absolutely fantastic people. 

I also probably couldn’t live with only having 10 days holidays which I probably wouldn’t take… 

Ashish from India has been running the restaurant together with his family for about 2 years. His son is a huge fan of the Heidi TV show and was very excited to see my pictures of Switzerland.

While I was eating,  another couple came in (A Canadian and a New Zealander) and we all proceeded to have a natter.  There was also a Japanese customer who kept saying that he was learning English but couldn’t speak it. 

The food was delicious and luckily not too spicy. Ashish also asked if he should add Coriander with my answer being an immediate “No thank you” . (I’m one of those who thinks coriander tastes like soap). 

After dinner I headed back to the hotel and continued my “Downtown Abbey” marathon. 

Thanks for reading 🙂  I’m currently writing this in my hotel’s jazz cafe. Drinking a hot ginger tea and eating a delicious oatmeal cookie. The atmosphere couldn’t be cosier. 

But I’ll write about that tomorrow 😉 

Laura 

PS – I love the traffic crossing sounds. I wish we could have them in Europe. Also Japanese toilets (the modern ones) need to be introduced in Europe too. Nothing feels better than a warm toilet seat 🙂 

Xoxoxo 

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