Castle in the snow

No trains, no buses, just legs.

The snow has turned Matsue white. The sky is blue when we wake up, but all services are cancelled. It becomes apparent later that the snow hasn’t stopped, for as we walk grey clouds arrive and flurries of snow fall before the sky clears again.

We trudge through the white powder to Matsue Castle. Where a path has not already been tread our feet sink deep into the snow. Cars drive slowly, some still carrying thick white additional roofs.

Like Inuyama Castle a few days ago, Matsue Castle retains its original structure and interior and is listed as one of the five great treasures. Last time we climbed up it I was carrying a four month old Alex on my belly in a Baby Bjorn.

It was spring and the sakura were in blossom, lamps hung for hanamatsuri. Today it is surrounded by snow, the dark keep standing out in contrast to the stark white surrounds.

The wooden interior is dim, windows all closed. There is good signage and descriptions of how the castle was saved from demolition and carefully restored.

Only at the top floor are the windows open, forgivably covered in glass considering the weather. The views are magnificent. Mountains, city and lakes.

We leave the castle grounds via a different exit, beneath snow tipped pines and past a thinly ice coated lake and Inari shrine with its red torii.

This is the way to the preserved samurai district and famous foreign citizen Lafcadio Hearn’s residence. Although we don’t enter any of the museums, we enjoy the wooden samurai era architecture on one side and the wide castle moat on the other.

The Menya Hibari ramen shop we were aiming to lunch at has closed early. Locals direct us to a nearby busy Izumo Soba Kigeru, a tiny place run by an old couple.

Honestly, I do not feel like soba right then, but B insisted on asking the locals and barging into the shop, leaving it impolite to decline to eat there. The kagaame noodles were not to our taste, but I forced myself to finish them.

The snow comes down very heavily as head back, big round balls coating our clothes. Then it eases up again. We stop by a supermarket, then continue on.

Night time brings us the dilemma of dinner. B refuses to eat at any of the izakaya that surround us, so again we set out in the snow and ice towards the station.

Many places are closed, including much of the station. Izakaya and yakiniku can be quite expensive for hungry stomachs and generally aimed around combining food with alcohol.

So we end up again at Aeon, dining on an unmemorable western style set at Joy Luster.

Then it’s back through the snow to the hotel again, a round trip of maybe 3 kilometres or more.

The others stay in the room, but I have another bath in the outdoor hot springs, enjoying the cold stone and hot water. I try one of the free massage chairs’ 15 minutes program. Wooo!

I’m feeling a bit sad now that the holiday is winding down. Sometimes it can be difficult to find peace and quiet and to manage expectations when you are with others. And I worry about the flights back too.

Hopefully the trains are running again tomorrow and we can explore more around the area.

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