In the past years I’ve been down on Tokyo sakura viewing. I mean when you can have a gorgeous castles in the background, see sakura on a mountaintop viewing regular sakura seems a bit boring? My mind really changed about how pretty Tokyo sakura viewing can be last year. One of my favorite spots was Nakameguro (中目黒). Nakameguro is famous as a destination for sakura because of its beautiful Meguro river that flows through it. The sakura drip over and its truly a gorgeous sight.

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The quintessential Nakameguro Sakura View (TM) and people free!

 

Nakameguro is a sought out place to live in Tokyo because of its hip but laid back vibe. It’s right next to fancy Daikanyama but not as expensive, so a lot of younger people live in the area.

Reasons I like Nakameguro Sakura:

Because it’s a river walkway you may be put off by the concrete of it all and lack of proper Tokyo sakura hanami viewing space, but these two things put off people so it’s much less crowded than places like Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park and Inokashira Park that get tons of drunk rowdy people. And it serves alcohol and lots of places to eat unlike Shinjuku Park. It’s also free unlike Shinjuku Park. If you can get a bench along the river it’s easy to spend several hours gazing and chatting.

 

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Sakura suits the river so well. I do think the Tottori river sakura are more beautiful but for central Tokyo sakura these are hard to beat. I headed out with Nicola and Linda.

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During a weekday the crowds are manageable and we were able to snag seats.

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The sakura do really cover all of Meguro river. Because of the shade and temperature differences theres a wide range when you can see sakura on just this one walkway.

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When we finally got seats this was our view. Pretty special right? The river really makes the crowds feel not so crowded. You can see one of the food trucks parked across the river. There were lots of tasty food options.

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The strawberry champagne was a big seller.

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We also got a bottle of pink sparkling wine to celebrate the season. Instagram worthy!

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Bonus! This super cute poodle we saw while enjoying an impromptu hanami.

 

Visiting Nakameguro for Sakura viewing:

Sakura season is finicky but even with buds or falling off the Nakameguro Matsuri is lovely to see. They do a light up as well for those seeking out a sakura light-up. It’s also an easy walk if you just want to put in an hour to view but not the whole day.

Nakameguro Station is a small station that can get super crowded during sakura season it’s on Tokyo Metro Hibiya and Tokyu Toyoko lines easily accessible through Shibuya. If you’re going at night or during the weekends I suggest getting off at Daikanyama Station of the Tokyu Toyoko Line (8 minute walk) or Ebisu Station on the Yamanote Line (14 minute walk) and walking to Nakameguro both of which are nice walks. Daikanyama has tons of cafes and cute food options in case Nakameguro gets too busy.

 

 

My first Sakura post of the year! I have more planned. I really got to enjoy sakura last year and I unfortunately can’t visit this year so hopefully posts on the blog turning pink will cheer up.  :hearts3:

 

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Yayoi Kusama (草間彌生) is a modern artist in every description of the term. In her 80s now she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves inside Japan. She was born in Matsumoto so when I heard Matsumoto was going to put on an exhibition of her work called “Yayoi Kusama: The Place for my Soul” I knew I had to make the trek to see it.

Seeing Yayoi Kusama art in Japan is actually a bit difficult. Other than one piece or two at museums across Japan permanently has a famous pumpkin on a small island of Naoshima which is both beautiful and very difficult to get to (travel bucket list) and the Matsumoto items. But if you’re in Tokyo Feb 22 – May 22  this exhibition will be showing (see below)

I first found out about her in the Marc Jacobs x Louis Vuitton documentary. She ended up doing a collaboration with Louis Vuitton and Louis Vuitton to hype the collab did a giant exhibition of her work starting at the Tate Museum in London. I was lucky to visit the exhibition and I fell in love. I’m a Yayoi Kusama obsessed now. From nails to lots of her prints and other bits inside my place in the States.

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Her giant flower sculpture. At least 30 feet tall and the size of a building. There are rare permanent Yayoi Kusama outdoor sculptures so this is a treat. Also great for selfies.

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Outside the museum she was on display.

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It was sakura seaoson in Matsumoto so I could see real and Kusama flowers.

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A suprising permanent installation is the Yayoi Kusama Coca Cola collab outside the Museum.

You can’t buy the faux Kusama cokes, but the rest is buyable and cute. And yes you can sit on Kusama works!

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Driving throughout the streets of Matsumoto is the Yayoi Kusama bus. It was released in 2010 and drives around a loop of all the Matsumoto tourist sites. I just missed it!

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Another permanent piece of Kusama in the main lobby of the building. The Matsumoto art museum opened in 2002 and is a really beautiful well lit building with lots of room for exhibitions.

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Stairs leading up to the exhibition. Classic Kusama.

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The exhibition starts off with her spinning chandeliers and mirrors. It’s one of her newer Ifinity Room styles.

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A whole dedicated to this giant steel pumpkin and a matching interior. I really loved this.

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An Infinity Room based on cloth versions of her earlier Phallus work.

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One her most recent pieces. Using dots, reflectives and phallus shapes all her eras in one.

She started using basic phallus shapes all lumped together to discuss how she felt about living in a masculine world and how intimidating it all felt. Seriously she’s 87 right now and she’s been doing feminist art since she started doing art. If haven’t been exposed to Kusama, give her a shot.

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Her early drawing work. She likes to display her pieces now all together instead of separate.

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One of her pieces I think from the 80s. It doesn’t really go with a lot of her other work, but it’s interesting

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Not pictured was her Infinity Mirrors pod and truly the highlight of my exhibition experience. Yayoi Kusama usually does Infinity Mirrors rooms which are beautiful, but the pod is a one person experience where you step in and for one minute you experience full deprivation of anything else but the Infinity Mirrors. Everywhere you look is infinite. Just you and the infinity. It’s like one full minute of being in beautiful space. And it was at the end of the exhibition so you really do feel like she let you in fully to her world.

 

Heading to Matsumoto Museum of Art:

Sadly her exhibition has ended in Matsumoto museum (link, link), but her flower sculpture, Coke dotted walkway and small pumpkin sculpture are all on permanent display. All of those are free to see without paying the 410 yen admission. It is a straight 10 minute walk from Matsumoto station (google map) and I think Matsumoto makes an amazing day trip from Tokyo. The Nagano region is my favorite in Japan and I’ve seen a lot so give it a try. If you’re heading to Matsumoto I talk about cost and direction in my Matsumoto Castle sakura post.

See Yayoi Kusama: A place for my Soul exhibition in Tokyo and another exhibition in the United States

If you’re in Tokyo February 22 – May 2017 the “Yayoi Kusama: My Eternal Soul” exhibition will be at the National Art Center near Roppongi. You can also pick up Yayoi Kusama goods nearby at the Mori Art Museum Gift shop in Roppongi. The Mori Art Museum Gift shop is a really cool place to buy art related gifts. Some of my favorite bits in my house I bought at the Mori Art Museum Gift shop.

Also if you’re needing more Kusama and you’re in the States she will be touring starting in May at the Smithsonian (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden) in Washington D.C. along with Seattle, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Ontario.  I’m really hoping to make it to the DC leg, wish me luck!

 

If you’re curious about my own Kusama collection check out my Instagram stories today  :smiley:

 

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Flying tips is something I’ve hinted at in my eating healthy posts, packing for Japan, and my dressing fab for Fall/Winter in Japan posts, but finally we’re getting down to it. I fly long-haul (over 10 hours usually 15 hours) flights at least two times a year for the past 10 years. If not three or four times a year. I’ve learned a lot in that time and I’m going to share it with you. I still do not like flying, but I do like arriving.

In order to spill all my secrets I’m going to break it down to basics, beauty and body. Basics are just tips for flying, seating, and entertainment etc… Body is how to maintain health and happiness and sleep on a plane. Beauty is how to look better arriving than departing.

I’m trying to gear this all to free or cheap, but sometimes I’ll suggest a pay item just because I believe it’s worth it. A bad long haul flight can take days off your travel enjoyment. You’ll be tried, jet lagged, skin dry, worn out. Do not underestimate how important taking care of yourself during a flight is to your whole vacation.

My flying tips revolve all around three things: sleep, hydration and lowered stress. If you can accomplish any of those, you’re looking better than the crumpled masses at immigration.

Basics

Join the member program of whatever airline you’re flying.

You get instant miles. You often get to automatically check a second bag for free. It’s often a little cheaper to upgrade as well if you’re in the member program. You can also board earlier. Which means you get to put your carryon exactly how you like it. You get settled in before worrying about someone else. These little things to cut your stress are important.

If you’re flying economy always upgrade to economy plus.

It’s usually $40 extra per one-way trip but it’s worth it. Extra leg room, boarding earlier to put your luggage etc… I find it much quieter area of the plane as well.

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(image source)

Aisle life is the best life

You can often stretch out your legs a bit more. Lean to sleep in the aisle and not into another person. You only have to deal with one person. Windows are for losers and you should not be in them… more on this later.

 

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Stock up on things to keep you occupied

On most long haul flights like ones to Japan there are usually in flight entertainment options. However yours could be broken. Or you hate the selection. Do not depend on someone else for your own happiness or for your happiness in the in flight entertainment. :happydance:

I prefer a paper magazine as a starter.

You can read that for the 30 minutes they have without electronics during boarding and deplaning. If you finish it just recycle and it’s one less thing to carry.

Podcasts

There’s so many interesting podcasts that are free. Vogue has its own if you want to learn about fashion. I’m addicted to the PBS Frontline series on audiocast and Economist’s Babbage about Future Technology.

Load up your kindle or iPad or whatever with an interesting book or two.

The amazon kindle store has daily & monthly deals that you can sometimes find some cheap good books. Or just keep items in your cart or “saved” and they’ll tell you if the purchase price decreases a lot.

Offline iPhone games

You can find a lot of free games on the app store of your choice. Here are a few lists. You’d be amazed how much time you can eat up and enjoy playing some doofy word game. My favorites are Bejeweled2 and Tiny Tower . Both are free and don’t require internet to play after you’ve downloaded.

iTunes and xfinity have downloadable free shows

Usually itunes shows are teasers or first episodes, but they’re free! Xfinity it just depends, and you have to do it through their app, but it’s very useful on long trips. I usually do this before I fly and if I don’t watch them then I can watch them on the annoying long Narita NEX train. Or just traveling in general. Take advantage of free!

If you’re a kindle iPad thing user I know you can download a lot of Prime TV shows offline. Take advantage!

Downloading before a trip is a great idea because I’ve been to many hotels that have crap wifi. Waking up jet lagged at 3am with nothing on TV, you will be happy you have something to watch.


 

Flying Tips for the Body

Always order two drinks

Ask for two waters or a juice and a water. Usually I don’t drink juice because taking the fiber out of fruit is crazy talk. But it’s a little fructose to keep you pepped. Or a tea and water. Just always hydrate. One of those tiny cups every two hours isn’t enough.

Bring an empty water bottle through security

Fill it up at the fountains inside the gate. Sometimes during long haul flights stewardesses break giving out waters. Or you just sleep through it. A bottle of water during that time is all the difference.

Hydration is life

Do you see the two tips I gave? That’s why you should be in an aisle seat. Pee forever it’s better than not drinking enough. Dehydration shows everywhere. It makes you tried. It makes you eat more. It makes your skin look older. Want to look good and feel good after a flight the two best ways are sleep and hydration.

Bring meals and snacks

You know what is trash? Airline food. It’s not made to be healthy, it’s made to be cheap. You’re putting a cheap meal into your stomach when you’re stressed and probably dehydrated. There’s very little nutrients in what they’re giving you. I have found that checking vegetarian can often make the vegetable content go up, but it just depends. My go to carry on meal is baked chicken, brussel sprouts and a small amount of bacon in a cheap ziploc container that I can keep or throwaway if needed. I get protein, fats and greens. You can cater this to your own needs. Just make sure it’s a dry meal.

Nuts, dry unsweetened fruit, celery, squeezable peanut butter. So many options to bring in your carry on bag. It’s perfectly okay to go through airport security with them.

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$15.00 at Aliexpress

Bring a giant shawl

This was a game changer for me. You know how airlines give you a blanket and it’s always to short EVERYWHERE? I think this is one of the big reasons people sleep badly. Waking up cold on your elbow or some other random body part is so weird.

My answer to this is a big shawl. I have a nice cashmere one that I didn’t buy for airline travel. It’s about 60 x 60 inches. It’s pretty huge and makes the perfect blanket, because it’s cashmere it’s thinner but still warm and easy storage. You can even layer up with the bad blanket they give you. I use it traveling as well in the Fall through Spring since mornings and nights are chilly. You can just use and store during the warm parts of the day.

I like to also use mine as a hoodie to muffle airline noise, without actually wearing a hoodie. If you don’t like shawls another choice is a sweater-style calf-to-ankle length cardigan (f21). I actually like combining shawl and cardigan for blanket life.

You know how you sleep better with your own blanket? A shawl is your blanket.

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My eyemask from Aromatherapy Associates

Bring an eye mask

I don’t use these daily, but I do like to carry one for travel. They make all kinds. If you fly enough you may get one from your airline. I have a giant one that is velvet and silk because I like fancy. But really it’s just whatever you like. It does help airplane sleeping. Especially if you’ve got someone using their overhead light right next to you.

Japanese brand Kao also makes these disposable heated steam eye masks. They really help relaxation and sleep. I recommend doubling up with a regular eye mask.

Don’t be afraid to sleep medicate

I know some people who go with the heavy stuff. I don’t really like to. For me melatonin or over-the-counter sleep aids work fine. I usually cut off my caffeine during the day to help this. My man always sleeps worse than me on flights and finally gave into sleep aids. It’s helped him get a few more Zs (if he followed all my instructions he’d get even more, but well he’s stubborn).

If you didn’t get good sleep worrying/being excited about the trip the nights before this tip is useless. The whole list may be. Really focus on your sleep the days before, get into good habits like putting away your iPhone three hours before bed, doing a routine like skincare to get you relaxed for bed.

A pack of pocket tissues

Maybe something on the plane affects your allergies. Or you just get the cold sneezes. Either way you’ll be happy you’re using the nice tissue than tearing up your nose on the airplane toilet tissues.

Wear loose shoes or laceable shoes

Feet can swell during long travel. Just stuck sitting around for long. Even if you take off your shoes during a flight. Having tight pinchy shoes when you have to put them on just sucks.

Dress comfortable but you

I know people say that sweats are travel, but I hate arriving in Tokyo or overseas and just looking frumpy. No matter how much your skin is glowing and you slept on a plane, if you feel frumpy you won’t be happy. But I also think travel can make you bloat and there’s nothing worse than trying to sleep in a plane in tight jeans.

Leggings and a dress. Leggings are elastic, you don’t have to worry about showing anything in a dress, or getting cold with weird drafts. Combined with your shawl you look cute. This can work for a lot of style choices.

Or just jean leggings and a tunic. This is the route I tend to go. Or just jeans with a lot of elastic or a long loose dress. Nothing that hugs you. I go for a lot of shirt layers so I can adjust to all the temperatures. Long skirts are okay as well, but beware of drafts. You can always strip off the leggings off the plane.

Put on clean underwear right before you leave the house to the airport

This cuts down on the hours you have to be in the same pair of underwear in a day. I know it’s TMI but well it helps. You will still feel grody after a flight, but not as gross.

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Be comfortable and cute in this Forever 21 bra

A wireless or sports bra is more comfortable to sleep in

And your goal on this flight is sleeping. Just wear something baggy if you don’t like the form it gives.

Stretch in the restroom

It’s a little embarrassing to stretch in a flight and there’s no room. But you can do it everytime you use the bathroom and you’ll be using it a lot because you best be using my water tips. Don’t full yoga, but a good calf raise and touching your toes. Also move your arms around the full range of motion. Stretching out your back is key.

 


 

Flying Tips for Beauty

Look better than when you left? I believe it!

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The morning of: Dry shampoo your hair

Dry Shampoo looks best when it’s worn overnight, in the case during a long flight. So before you leave your house just spray some dry shampoo in. Traveling can make people sweat and Narita airport is the WORST AIR CONDITIONED AIRPORT EVER (all caps) always. It could be January and they’d make you sweat. It’s always humid.

Wear your hair your most comfortable to sleep

Up, down, braids etc… whatever feels the best for you. Comfort is important. I usually leave mine down and then have a hair tie if I’m annoyed with it in front of my face. I usually put a little bottom curl in my hair before I leave to fly. That usually keeps my hair settled and looking not to scuzzy when I arrive.

Don’t think about wearing make-up 

These 10-14 hours are all about skincare. Let’s get on it. A tinted sunscreen you can wash off is fine for the start of your flight. Washing off a full face in an airplane bathroom isn’t advisable. I’ve done it, but man I was such a tryhard gyaru. hehehe

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10-14 hours of sweet sweet skincare

You know what flights are for? Skincare. All this time you have to work on steps. To hydrate. To cream and lather. It’s also a wonderful way to break up the time if you can’t sleep. Or if you wake up frequently.

My three big skincare musts for travel are these: hyaluronic acid, ceramides, a thick cream. Everything else is negotiable. I prefer to talk about ingredients in skincare mostly because ingredients matter so much more than the price or the fancy writing on the bottle. I love ingredients!

Hyaluronic acid I love you. Yes it says acid but it’s not that kind of acid.  Our skin is also naturally acidic. It’s our skin but better. Hyaluronic acid plumps the skin. It holds onto water, it’s the opposite of dehydrated. There’s also some interesting research that maybe it can go deeper than thought and actually plump up deeper levels of skin tissue, which is awesome!! Didn’t think you’d get a skincare tip? Well boom! Put this on first.  The results can be instant.

CosRx Hyaluronic Acid Essence, Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster, Mizon Hyaluronic Acid Ampoule – I’ve tried them all. Mizon is my personal favorite.

Ceramides are another skincare ingredient star. Ceramides are long chain fatty acids that help make up the skin’s moisture barrier. Helping that moisture barrier and protecting it is one of the best things you can do for your skin. Ceramides have shown they can help protect that barrier. Plane air is the driest air, so ceramides love you. You can find these ingredients in heavy creams if you’d like to combine the two, but I like to use these with lighter lotions, essences or ampoules.

CeraVe moisturizing lotion, Skinfood Avocado Rich Cream, Mizon Hyaluronic Acid Ampoule

Heavy Cream my one non-ingredient item on the list. Although yours may contain Hyaluronic Acid or Ceramides. Just a good thick cream to help keep that moisture barrier happy and keep you from drying out. Use on your neck and hands! This is one I say just use what you enjoy best. Keep slathering throughout the flight.

My current favorite: Innisfree Orchid Encriched Cream

Other beauty items to bring:

sheet maskMy Beauty Diary brand are the thinnest if you’d like to look not sheet mask white

wash off packInnisfree capsules are very plane portable

hand cream – public restrooms have the most drying soap even if you don’t usually use one I recommend using one during travel.

samples – If you skin is hardy. If you breakout don’t patch test your face with something new. It’ll just create some embarrassing travel photos.

lip balm – Don’t underestimate the plane dryness getting to your precious lips. If you’re in a pinch put some hyaluronic acid on those puckers.

toilet paper wipes – Because airplane toilet paper is so cheap and is not as hygienic as you can be.

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A small make-up kit

Either 30 minutes before I land or on the Narita Express I do my make-up. It’s a pared down version just some moisturizer, bb cream, eyeliner, eyebrow mascara, lipgloss. Nothing too fancy but if I’m meeting friends or such I like to look not completely busted.

 

So this is a lot of tips and it may suit you to ignore some. You do you   :smiley:  Taking care of your health on a plane is so important to your whole trip. I promise if you follow a lot of these you will come out on the other side feeling better. Now I gotta go and start prepping for this, because I’m on a flight in a day.  :smiley:

 

Sorry an earlier half-finished version came out. I didn’t realize I pressed publish instead of save. This is the final version. Thanks for reading through the full one :hearts3:

 

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Matsumoto Castle sakura viewing wasn’t something I expected to do last Spring. Actually I thought I had planned my two week Spring trip to sakura forecast perfection. HAHAHHAA I WAS WRONG!

Sakura are gorgeous super fickle flowers. Forecasts change quickly and even if you wait until a month before to book your travel plans, the predictions can STILL BE off. Six days before I was set to leave for Japan the sakura flood came scrolling across my instagram and twitter and all I could do was sit there and glare. DAMN YOU SAKURA! But that’s one of the big things about sakura planning. You just have to be flexible.

The full pink of sakura season. The pinkness happens at the end of the main variety of sakura blooming.

Matsumoto Castle is one of those great flexible locations. It’s in Nagano prefecture but a very easy day trip from Tokyo (2 1/2 hours by train). Since it’s further up to the north, Matsumoto Castle (松本城 Matsumoto-jo) sakura bloom later than Tokyo. It’s a popular sakura location for Japanese and the castle appeared ready to with lots of volunteers for their “mankai” or full bloom season. Spring is the most popular time to visit and with good reason!

Matsumoto Castle is known as Crow Castle because of its black exterior. I think its dark look really sets off sakura well.

Matsumoto Castle in its full glory. Along with Matsumoto City’s mascot Alp-chan (アルプちゃん) dressed in samurai armor. For the sakura season there was also a roaming guy dressed in samurai armor that you could take photos with (top right).

Anything x sakura or red maple is my WA OTP so when I’m able to get blossoms x castle… so much bonus!

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The castle peaking out from behind the sakura.

There were a few weeping sakura. Weeping sakura bloom later than regular sakura. They’re very plentiful in Kyoto but not so much around Matsumoto castle.

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I usually don’t take many pictures inside of castles because they’re essentially darkened old buildings that house museum examples and mainly great for their exterior and for having wonderful views when you get to the top. I am so amused by old art though.

Climbing the castle was definitely worth it for this view. The moutains in the back are part of the Japanese Alps.

Inside the castle looking out to the grounds and city of Matsumoto.

Mankai or full bloom in all its glory. Matsumoto Castle sakura gave me hope I’d see more sakura that trip.

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Reasons I’m not on this blog, top being –  I cannot pose, I am more like a bakery possum than a human, and I make stupid faces. But damn it’s the only photo I got of the full glory of the line of sakura trees leading up to the castle. Check out that lovely pink sakura rain.

All I did was resize this photo because I wanted to show how some of the sakura very beautifully pink that day.  :dotbow:

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I love when sakura fall because they their whole blossom tends to fall.

We snuck in for the last full blossom day of Matsumoto’s sakura season. It was an overcast day and storms were brewing to rain the next day and take down the fragile blossoms.

How to get there: From Shinjuku take the Super Azuza (スーパーあずさ) limited express to Matsumoto station. There is reserved and unreserved seating which you can sort out at Shinjuku station. It’s free if you have JR Rail Pass or it’s 8,000 yen round-trip for unreserved. It’s a 15 minute walk to the castle from the station.

More information at: myoko-nagano

 

And to think this is just the sakura opener for the blog. So many more sakura posts to do. And many Nagano posts to do, too!

If you missed any previous sakura posts on the Doll check them out here I’ve got a fourth in a series of sakura foods posts coming up too.  :hearts3:

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