The city of Matsumoto reconstructed the all wood district court building of the Edo period as the center of a regional historical museum. The law court has a familiar layout, with the panel of judges sitting on a raised dais, lawyers on a lower dais, and the public at ground level.
Deeper in the complex, a room is set aside as a memorial to Yoshiko Kawashima, a Japanese spy executed by the Nationalist Chinese government in 1948. Her remains are interred in Matsumoto, where she lived as a child for awhile.
In the 1930s, she led a counter insurgency cavalry troop that rounded up anti-Japanese forces in Manchuria. A Chinese princess, she was an influential member of the Manchukuo imperial court, featured in the movie The Last Emperor. She was called the Joan of Arc of Manchukuo and the Asian Mata Hari.
Japanese postcards are often reproductions of exquisite pieces of art so they make lovely souvenirs and gifts. Here are a few of the ones I’ll be sending out. I originally planned to send them from Japan but it looks like I’ll be too busy to address and annotate them before I get home.
Itoya in Tokyo is a 100 year old stationery store with an entire floor of fountain pens, a fabulous cafe, and even some housewares. Everything is beautifully presented and the quality is amazing. If you are ever in Tokyo and love pens or stationery, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Just a handful of the stunning pens available. They also had a Pelikan writing area where one can try out the high end Pelikan models.
And there were so many drool-worthy models that I was overwhelmed.
They also had an amazing collection of stationary and journal supplies.
And to to it all off, the cafe served delectable Japanese style pancakes and mango sangria, as well as a variety of lovely salads, soups, and entrees.
At our ryokan, we have beautiful tatami mats on the main floor, and in the dining areas. A wood or tile step before you enter the tatami room reminds guests to remove their slippers.
The tatami mat in dining room
While beautiful, tatami mats are expensive (one price quote was close to $1000 USD) and somewhat fragile, as well as hard to wash, although they are easy to vaccum or sweep. An errant pair of heels or careless movement of furniture can cause irreparable damage.
The cost and care required is easier to understand once one has viewed the process used to create these classic Japanese floor coverings. Tatami mat manufacture video.
They give a warm, restful glow to any room they grace, but are a bit firm under a futon.
Rice is a beautiful crop as you can see from these pictures. The bright yellow green plants pop against the dark green of the surrounding hills. Most of our team volunteered to harvest rice using traditional methods (second photo above). Ray and I opted out. As an ex-farmer and a farmer’s daughter, we had both put in enough hard work on farms that the prospect of farm work wasn’t appealing. The process is fascinating, however, as the video linked (under process) shows. Modern techniques have been adopted where the farmers can afford the equipment.
The workers from our team wore rubber boots, wellies as the Brits call them.
Unlike Pachinko, playing the vending machine slots is a guaranteed win for the player.
Japan has the highest per capita number of vending machines in the world. Let’s focus on one vending machine commonly seen on the street, beverages. Here’s one stocked with a wide variety of types of drinks.
A player wins > 99% of the time, because the vending machine vendor maintains the machine assiduously. In Japan, one rarely encounters something broken. Although, if a machine lacks, sufficient coins to provide change, then it won’t let you play.
The bottom row of Boss cold coffee in a can products warrants closer attention. On a video commercial played in the subway car, I had seen Tommy Lee Jones evidently shilling Boss coffee. Well, if the Man In Black guy likes it, then I’ll give it a shot. Must be good.
I played against Boss, for 110¥, and selected the tan 3rd can from the left, cafe au lait. I WON! 😀😀😀 And it was delicious.