Nagano was the host city of the 1998 Olympic games. The building presented here is the stadium of the opening ceremony with the Olympic torch still on display. Olympics facilities for hockey, speed skating, figure skating are scattered throughout Nagano whereas the ski events were held in Hakone. The Olympics were a profoundly marking event for the people of Nagano. It created an accelerated development of the town (notably the arrival of the Shinkansen rapid train) with a sudden increase of the infrastructures and also a cultural opening to the world.
The Odawara Castle is located close to the Odawara train station (10 min walk). An armor and weapon collection is presented in the renovated inside as well as a picture gallery of other famous Japanese Temples. The view of the city and ocean from the upper floor observatory is worth the visit.
If the weather is good, one can observe mount Fuji from the Shinkansen rapid train. Be sure to sit on the right if travelling towards Kyoto or to the left while travelling towards Tokyo. The station shin fuji propably offers one of the best views. I was offered a window seat by Japanese Salaryman who probably saw it so many times already. The picture taken represents reasonably what you can expect to see, the exact location it was taken is not certain though.
The bombardments during World War II brought great destruction to the castle. The main donjon was fortunately fully reconstructed. Reconstruction of the Honmaru Palace begun in 2009 and is expected to be completed by 2017. The Nagoya castle is recognised for its golden dolphins on the castle’s topmost roof. Each of them (male and female) contain approximately 45 kg of gold. The keep is the main attraction at Nagoya Castle with fully modern facilities and exhibits relating to the castle’s history. The panorama of Nagoya from the upper level observatory is also quite impressive.
The owner of the Ginkakuji temple wanted to cover it in silver similarly to what his grandpa had done with the Kinkakuji (the golden temple). The economy was not good at that time and he could never afford the silver to cover it. The temple is still very famous for its beautiful gardens, and one can get a very nice view of Kyoto within a short distance walk in the hillside garden.
Mitsuko wanted to cook some fresh rice for our last meal, so we got some rice bags from the latest crop and went to the rice mill. The rice mill is a do-it-yourself automatic facility where you simply put some money to start the machine and select your preferred setting from highly refined (white rice) to coarser (brown rice). You put the rice with the shells on one side and it comes out as white rice on the other. Fresh rice tastes so good!