Japanese English
1. Preface, Matsushiro
3. Iiyama Temple Town
2. Zenkoji Temple
4. Hotel, Back Pain
1-1. Preface
The Courtyard of Our Condominiums
April 3, 2016
Along Sakai River near Our Residence
April 6

I have been familiar with Nagano Prefecture since I married Emiko 51 years ago, which is her parents' home country and most of her relatives still live in.
Besides, I used to go to Kiso-fukushima Town in the prefecture on business once a month sometimes during working for Daido Steel, as our shell-mold casting plant was located there.

Supposedly I have been to various places in Nagano Prefecture several tens of times, thinking of mountain walkings and sight seeings as well as the visits to my wife's relatives and the business trips. Nagano City to the north, Komoro and Saku to the east, and Kiso-fukushima to the south-west, ...., there are many familiar place names dotted within the range in the map.

I have to mention the Three Shirouma Mountains rising to the north-west extending over Toyama Prefecture. My friends of Fukagawa Mountain Walking Group took me and climb Mt. Shirouma-dake (2,932 m) and two other neighboring mountains for 3 days midsummer in 1999. This experience is still deep in my mind.

I noticed the Four Castles of National Treasure, talking with Mr. H well informed about Japanese history. Matsumoto Castle (Nagano Pref.), Inuyama Castle (Gifu Pref.), Hikone Castle (Shiga Pref.) and Himeji Castle (Hyogo Pref.)
Among the 12 castle keeps remaining the same as before, they are the castles with the keeps designated as the National Treasure, while 8 others are the Important Cultural Asset.

I have a clear memory of Hikone Castle and Himeji Castle, as I visited them in recent years, while I surely went up Inuyama Castle during my Daido Steel days.
Then what about Matsumoto Castle?
I only have a vague memory that I looked over it through a bus window on the way of some tour.

-----
Our couple stayed at Bessho Spa near Ueda City for 3 days in July last year.

(http://chukonen.com/someday/
1507bessho/1507besshospae1.html)

In and around Bessho Spa there were about a dozen temples besides noted hot springs. It was true that this area is called "Kamakura in Shinshu". Shinshu is a traditional name of Nagano Prefecture.
In addition, Ueda Castle Ruins.
We visited it on the way back. It gave us luckily another benefit because we have now been enjoying the NHK-TV's popular drama of this year "Sanada Maru" and this castle is deeply related to the drama.

The lady among the friends at the sport club "DSC" strongly recommended the temple town in Iiyama City, saying "It lacks the finishing touch without visiting Iiyama Temple Town."
The city seems to be north of Nagano City and near Madarao Heights.
She emphasized that the area there was quiet and elegant with so many impressive temples.

In the result I came to feel making a trip to Nagano Prefecture, putting the focus on Matsumoto Castle and Iiyama Temple Town, just when I found the following tour in the guidebook of Hankyu Trapics.

"4 Days in Shinshu Matsushiro Royal Hotel
Taking a Relaxing Soak in the Hot Spring"

It meant we would stay in the hotel near Nagano City for four days and could act on our own during the whole time.
I applied for the following itenerary half-hearted about it like "Both Matsumoto and Iiyama must be within a half-day trip from Nagano City."

Sunday, April 10th
Asama 609 on the Hokuriku Bullet Line
Lv. 12:04 Tokyo Station
Ar. 13:53 Nagano Station
Special Bus to Matsushiro Spa
- - - - -
Monday, 11th, and Tuesday, 12th
Free Activity
- - - - -
Wednesday, 13th
Special Bus from the hotel to Nagano Station
Asama 616 on the Hokuriku Bullet Line
Lv. 12:27 Nagano Station
Ar. 14:12 Tokyo Station

Where and how are we going to spend the days around?
I began preparing the way for the 4-day all-free trip just a couple of days before the start.

I was upset checking the detailed map of Nagano Prefecture and the related informations on the Internet based on the last notice of the travel agency.
Matsumoto City is, to my surprise, far south from Nagano City. It takes one hour by train, but few trains, inconvenient.
Another problem is the hotel shuttle bus schedule to and from Nagano Station. As long as we use this service, we have to get back to Nagano Station by 15:40 at latest in order to take the final bus to the hotel at 16:00.
In such a situation, we can stay there around the castle at most for only 2 hours from noon, feeling rushed for sure.
I decided to give up going there this time.

Iiyama Temple Town is not just a stone's throw from Nagano City either.
However if we spend one day only there, we may look around the most main temples, providing that the local trains to and from Iiyama are very few.

Even so, my poor health condition. The dull pain on the back near the right shoulder has been continuing since 2 weeks ago.
I have been doing English translation of my domestic travelogues in an attempt to let foreign people know the climate and traditional culture of Japan on my own way.
This work declines my specific part of the physical strength. Admitting the direct cause is the PC work, I have been going on with it everyday with a self-righteous sense of duty.
At last several days ago, I had to give up on the way of the travelogue "Turbid Hot Springs around Lake-Tazawa Heights, 2011".
In such a situation, I started for this trip in spite of Emiko's worry.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
1-2. Matsushiro Town
Kaizu Castle Ruins
Matsushiro Hotel With Sanada Lords

Our couple got on Asama 609 on Hokuriku Bullet Line at 12:04 at Tokyo Station.
After Takasaki, we began to eat box lunch, viewing the changing local landscapes through the window. The scenery increased green from around Karuizawa, and the train stopped at Sakudaira and Ueda, and finally got to Nagano Station at 13:53.

The parking lot was just to the right from the Zenkoji exit.
Under the bright sky, three buses arranged by Hankyu Trapics were waiting with each destination and hotel sign.
The total 40 tour members were divided into the respective buses, and we 15 members got on the bus for Matsushiro Royal Hotel.

The bus arrived at the hotel after 30 minute drive.
The travel agency Hankyu Trapics is probably in a good match with the Royal Hotel chain of Daiwa House group. Our couple, traveling a lot by Trapics tour, have stayed in this chain hotels, like at South Boso Tomiura, Hamana Lake, Tonami in Toyama Prefecture, Noto Peninsula and Ise-Shima.
So, I felt somewhat familiar here.

We were led to the twin room on the 13th floor. It was still before 15:00.
Emiko told me to walk around for a while, and we asked the front if any good spot to see near the hotel.
The lady staff answered at once saying "There are a couple of nice temples all right, but I recommend the castle ruins in the first place. You can get there in 20 minutes, so you will surely make use of your time."

We began walking with the town map handed from the staff, and easily reached Matsushiro Castle (Kaizu Castle) Ruins within the expected time.

This was the castle of 100,000 koku of rice.
We passed Taiko Gate into the castle keep, and then got out of Yagura Gate to the castle park full of cherry blossoms to stroll around looking at historical remains.

The first lord of the castle, Sanada Nobuyuki, was the elder son of Masayuki. His younger brother was Nobushige (another name: Yukimura), the hero of NHK-TV drama.
Matsushiro Domain is said to have lasted for 250 years until the Meiji Restoration.

The castle ruins was unexpected grace to us. We enjoyed the slow and comfortable sightseeing in a nice weather. But we did not visit any other related spots around there, like Sanada Treasure Museum and Sanada Mansion where are displayed many arms and ancient manuscripts. I admit we had much enough time.

Matsushiro Castle Ruins was eventually the only sight spot we visited during the whole 4-day stay here. I regret it writing the travelogue now.
According to the guidebook of the town, there are such places of interest as follows.
Chokoku Temple (the temple of Sanada family), Seisui Temple (the oldest wood carving in Nagano Prefecture inside), Emyo Temple (built by the 3rd lord Yukimichi), Daiei Temple (the temple of Komatsu-hime, Nobuyuki's wife), Myotoku Temple (the temple of Takasaka Danjo), Zozan Shrine and Art Museum of Masuo Ikeda.
It says all of them are along the promenade of Matsushiro Historical Remains.

Matsushiro Castle Ruins, Other Pictures

Part 1 Reading: 17' 02"
Part 1 (here) Part 2 >
1. Preface, Matsushiro
3. Iiyama Temple Town
2. Zenkoji Temple
4. Hotel, Back Pain
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