Over the national holiday of Obon, my wife and I drove up to Nagano, specifically the city of Matsumoto. We took route 19 and avoided much of the holiday traffic. We stayed in a lovely little ryokan named Sakaenoyu. This place has a great funky charm from being built in the 1960s. Japanese-style rooms with futons on the floor. The decor reminded me of a Kawabata novel and that is not a complaint. Lovely staff and a great onsen for bathing after dinner.
We visited Matsumoto castle while there. I am crazy about castles and never pass up a chance to visit one. I got lucky and found a ninja in front!
The next day we went hiking around Mt. Yake Dake, also in Nagano prefecture. The high altitude cut down on a lot of the humidity typical of Japanese summers. Although my wife was terrified, we rented a boat for the afternoon. Of course, I had to do all the rowing.
On the third day we drove home in a torrential rain that made me think we had another typhoon. I was fortunately wrong, but the rain stopped us from doing any more sightseeing. Next time!