Hillary and Aron's Honeymoon in Nippon 2006 travel blog

Quite the spread!

Stunning views from the outdoor onsen

Aron`s 5am bath

Posting from Matsumoto

So here we are in Matsumoto, a lovely little city that still retains quite a bit of downtown charm without seeming totally touristy, which is a feat that I haven`t seen yet here. It does, however, seem to cater to a large international (read: English-speaking) crowd, but at this point in our trip, we`re ready for a taste of home.

To wit, this morning we woke up at a Ryokan near Shiobara, which has gained a place right up there on the most beautiful places I`ve ever seen. Basically take the best part of the deepest layer of the Grand Canyon - imagine standing on the shore of the Colorado, and looking up so you wouldn`t see anything except the immediate steep cliffs - now shrink the river down and make it the prettiest Adirondack stream you`ve run across, complete with appropriate levels of babbling water, dappled sunlight streaming through, and rocks placed with the kind of feng shui that only God can manage. Okay, now cover those barren Arizona rock cliffs without about a bajillion shades of green in the form of ivy, shrubs and trees of various makes and models. Now dapple in just one or two cherry or plum trees in order to create the appropriate contrast of pink or white. Pretty good, eh? Well, now put a beautiful wooden covered staircase - appropriately aged, of course - down to a riverside natural hot spring bath (onsen), with four pools of various geometry and temperature. At the top of the stairs put a relatively modern, yet traditionally styled Japanese inn filled with lovely people, but make sure that the only interaction you have with people actually at riverside is those you pass coming up when you head down, and those you pass coming down when you`re finished - you wouldn`t want to spoil your perfect privacy. Oh yeah, then make sure you have a 15 dish Japanese dinner served in your room, and that the maid converts your dinner seating into a futon sleeping area while you`re bathing. So that`s how we spent yesterday.

Anyhow, back to the enjoyment of western creature comforts. The morning brought a lovely traditional japanese breakfast. Which would be great if we appreciated lovely traditional japanese breakfasts. We don`t. Is one sweet thing too much to ask? Each of us had one raw egg too many, one bowl of pickled veggies too many, one strangely cooked egg too many, sprinkled among other interesting looking things. Fortunately the salmon and raw meat was just enough to fill our bellies. So lunch? A burger in a train station. Dinner? Pizza - spinach and eggplant - OISHI - at the bar I sit in presently, clearly catering to gaijin. Which brings me to the title - the Video music channel is keeping me up to date on music videos. I think that Sergio Mendes collaboration might be my next iTunes purchase when I return. And the Makers Mark went down as smooth as it ever does.

Love to all... we miss you. (and keep the guestbook entries coming - we LOVE them). A note on the photos- we have many onsen photos that did not really turn out so great, as well as a movie, which we will try to upload later. All the pics above are from Nasu-Shiobara`s renowned Myoga-ya. Unbelievably beautiful.

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