Light rain still falling this morning but the sky was showing signs that it might clear. We hoped so otherwise we wouldn't get a clear view of Mt Fuji. The resort is situated in very nice secluded grounds with lots of trees including many Japanese Maple looking splendid in the coats of red leaves. Beyond the trees was a small lake to add to the atmosphere of the surroundings.
On the bus, one of seven starting out this morning. Not so bad with another 8:30am start but the 7:45pm finish tonight wasn't as appreciated. Anyway up the mountain we go. Mt Fuji is 3776 metres high and our destination, Level 5, was the 2442 metres at the end of the sealed road just below the snow line. There are really only two months of the year when there is no snow. Was there any today? Couldn't tell. Even though it fined up and the sky generally cleared, there was still a continuous rain cloud sitting sitting from about halfway between the the snow line and the summit and stayed there all the time so unfortunately, no photos of the top of the cone.
From Mt Fuji a two hour drive saw us in Matsumoto City, to see a 400 year old Shogun castle, one of five listed as Japanese National Treasures. These were the remaining five of original Japanese castles, the rest of which were ordered destroyed when the political system changed in the 19th century. The castle is around 36 metres, 6 stories, high and apart from the rock moat walls, the building is entirely wooden construction with large vertical posts and massive cross beams. Apparently, this castle was not built for accommodation but as the last line of defence in the event of a war between the clans. The top floor offers magnificent views buy only through narrow openings which allowed for firing on attacking groups. The view from the front down over the grounds shows a black outline marked in the grass showing where the original accommodation palace was constructed and burned to the ground in an accidental fire.
A further two and a half hour drive saw us in the Nagano area at our accommodation, the Shiga Palace Hotel, Nagano. Unfortunately it sure isn't a palace. We were told is is the biggest ski resort in Japan and you may recall that Nagano was the site of the Winter Olympics in 2006.
I'm doing this downstairs in the lobby as it is a traditional hotel with low table and floor cushions and there are no chairs or table to work on in the room and the bed pillows seem to be filled with marbles. Yet to figure out whether my back will survive the mattress.
If I can walk tomorrow, I'll be back tomorrow night...