|We arrive in Matsumoto midday having paid for our first toll tunnel which was much smaller than a few we have already passed through. Japan is full of tunnels and bridges some so incredulous you wonder how they were constructed we have had junctions, hills and bends all in the tunnels.
The back wheel bearing has bedded in since Chris’s but feels tight so we stop in a 7/11 car park to loosen it off and buy noodles for lunch. A concerned lady sees Roof under the rear wheel and asks if anything is wrong. I motion all is ok we are just adjusting something. It turns out her husband rides a Ducati we show her what we’re doing segoi(wow) “have you eaten lunch?” I say we will buy noodles in minute she insists lunch is on her and heads off returning with a carrier bag full of goodies rice balls, veg dips, coffee, crisps, biscuits etc it is a feast. We take photos of her with the bike on her phone so she can show her husband and say arigato before heading off on route 158 over the mountains. It’s a cracking road we see loads of Japanese tourists so stop, it’s just a break area but has tourist maps we are in the Japanese alps and there are some campsites in the area. As we are about to leave a Japanese rider on a BMW pulls in staring at the bike we pull over for a quick chat he is on his way home. We set off for the campsites we find one late in the day after about 20km up an isolated mountain route in a beautiful woodland setting with it’s own lake, the place is deserted apart from a cafe which is open. I enquire the price first 1500yen a bit steep but as is late and beautiful I fill in the forms only when she rings it up on the till it’s 1500yen each. 3000yen is about £30 I politely back away and we take the first offshoot. We have a choice of paths, we break out the two way radios, I explore one Roof the other, his is better we end up in a little clearing. Next day dawns bright and sunny we discuss options and decide to leave the tent up here with the airbed but pack everything else and head back to Matsumoto castle.
Arriving in the town we head for the castle it is really pretty from the outside all black and white we cross the ornate red bridge and pay a reasonable 600yen which gives us access to the museum also. Once inside we find voluteer guides willing to show us around and explain in English for free. The castle is a tardis we mount the huge steps after popping our shoes in the carrier bags provided. It is on five levels and is full if intrigue and mystery some steps are so steep it is like a ladder we ask our guide why, it is because they fit them in between the pillars. She tells us of various legends and superstisions, it is 400yrs old we learn of the 126 th goddess and moon viewing room. We both agree that the voluteer system is good and tell her so. Back in town we jump on one of the rare wifi spots to upload some blogs it is nice not to have to worry about finding camp so we stay till dusk. We stop at a liquor store on the way back hoping for a drop of wine but as the cheapest bottle starts at £12 we leave empty handed. The route back in the dark up the mountain roads is challenging but helped by good headlights and a route to follow on the gps we don’t miss the turn offs. We arrive safely back at our little camp.
As usual we have to pump up the air bed, we have tried unsuccessfully to find the leak. We also have to scare away the mice we hear as do not want any more holes. We are awoken at 6am by voices down the lane. After hurriedly getting dressed a car goes by he Konichwa’s hello and keeps going. We hear gun fire around the valley the hunters are out but at least someone knows we’re here. Later another van goes by collecting wood but again he just says hello. We are on the road by 9.30 heading for Takyama.