Early start, travelling to Nagano, about 3hrs on the Shinano Ltd Express. Nagano feels much smaller than expected for a place that I associate with the 1998 winter olympics.
Dropped stuff off, then out to see Occult Gakuin locations in Matsushiro. The JR line isn’t any good for Nagano city itself, you’ve got the Nagano Dentetsu system, which is pretty small but seems very functional for commuters.
Very narrow platforms, they don’t have electronic gates, and only open them when a train is due. Four lines, very closely spaced. Nagano is a terminus, the springs for the end of the line are actually visible.
No direct route, travel first to Suzaka, some way away. First impression of Suzaka: tiny place, but clearly a somewhat major train hub. Commercial stuff visible outside the station but can’t determine extent. Stepping out, immediately notice the very old platform infrastructure. Rotary dial phones in the office, cobwebs and degradation evident, tired stairs, etc. You walk down the end of the platform to cross the tracks, you can just do that! Sleepy. Smell of burning wood not far away.
We’ve got about 30min until our connection to Matsushiro arrives, so I walk around and take photos on the platform.
Matsushiro is a small station, for a small and somewhat historic town. Many feudal-era gardens, immaculately preserved and maintained. We’re here for a handful of locations around the station (station itself, and the remains of an old adjacent castle), and the Mt. Zouzan Imperial Headquarters.
This is a pretty cool cave system built by labourers before the end of the war, intended as a backup command centre for the emperor. Walking through it feels something like Spelunx, an FPS game, or just general badassery depending on your mood.
500m of tunnel, no exit at the other end, so it’s 1km for the round trip. It’s a simple, but pretty unique experience.
Matsuya supermarket here, we get lunch for cheap! Wish Japan had more supermarkets, but I suspect we’re never in the right places/times to find them.
We fucked up and missed the 16:19 train outta there. It was right there on the platform, but they don’t fuck around, doors are open for like 15sec or something. Had to wait an hour for the next one, and it was getting dark, and was already cold. So relieved when we finally got onto the warm carriage and back to Nagano via Suzaka.
Mcdonalds for dinner - what can I say, their 100yen menu is exploitable.
Spent a number of hours trying to track all my spending, finding black holes in my budgeting, like the 14.8k shinkansen trip to Takayama. largely accounted for now, I hope the last 30k or so was spent on vending machines, UFO catchers, and books at ‘ket. still want to look at secondhand lenses here, it’s gonna have to come out of a budget-extension no matter what :/ Will withdraw 30k yen tomorrow morning, that should at least cover the rest of the trip. If I want to buy anything big I’ll pull some more.