June 5th 1998, a Friday

Our hike was great! I enjoyed viewing the country by foot much more than flying through it on the trains. Our group this day was quite a bit smaller, well it seemed so. James decided to go to school to pick up some Japanese women and Ryan and Dave both went "shopping" in Matsumoto all day.

This left Dave Nelson, Alice, Gina, Sara, Sophie, Mr. C, and myself to wander a footpath from the city of Magano to Tsumono, a total time of four hours.

By taxi, we traveled to the trail head, and here, we were asked to get our picture taken with some retired citizen tour group. I might be able to get my hands on a copy of the picture. The first four kilometers or so was uphill, but soon, we traveled downward. The scenery, of which I took many pictures, was beautiful. In both cities, a strict building code is kept to make the cities appear as in ancient times.

I'd like to interject here for a moment. As I write, I am attempting to record songs off of the radio so I can listen in my car. Anyone who complains about Omaha's radio stations has nothing to complain about. Japanese radio, a Nagano station right now, plays one friggin' song every twenty minutes - no joke, twenty minutes of commercial or weather or traffic everytime! I will not be able to fill up a tape at this rate. God NO! GREASE! Make it stop·. "·let's get into physical!·"

Going downhill, we followed a stream. There were two instances where it produced beautiful waterfalls along the train. Truly, both were Kodak moments.

Each town is quite touristy, as you can imagine, but en route, we saw no one else, which was a welcome change from the crowded trains and packed streets of Tokyo. The trail was developed, yet rocky, much like one of my previous trip to Arkansas, but without the bugs. Perhaps someday (college?) I will have to get a group to Japan to backpack northern Japan, a less populated area.

Many times, for conversation, I asked if the other person could live in Japan. I know Sophie is worried about the regimen, because everything is too formal and prompt. I know Larry would miss the cars and the steaks. But me, I don't see living here a possibility as of now. No matter how much I study, no matter how perfect my etiquette would become, I would always be a foreigner. For one, I am one foot taller than most of the Japanese people.

On the other hand, if business in America brought me here for a period of time, I could dig that.

On the ride home, I spied a huge Pepsi can, and you can imagine my reaction. The train left before I was able to buy it, so now I am initiating a dire search for more "Big @$$ cans." Wish me luck! [Note: I never did find the big Pepsi cans. L Coke is quite big in Japan, and they had 500 ml cans, but to buy one of those and carry it home would be sacrilegious. Oh well, I guess this is another excuse to go back!]

The train arrived in Matsumoto station at 4:59, on time of course, and Mrs. Sugiyama brought me home.

At dinner, I gave out my gifts and thanked the family for my warm and accommodating stay with them. My apprehensions were high as to this portion of my stay in Japan, but they crashed down this fear and instead, turned it around to be the best days and nights so far.

This evening, Friday, I karaoke'd with the family, and one of Gaku's friends. I am a car singer, and only a car singer, but I actually enjoyed myself. Everyone always complains that Omaha is too boring, but perhaps a Karaoke Bar would be fun!

As I write tonight, I have found the radio to be much better. I caught a top 20 countdown, so how can I go wrong? Ofuro time. Cya!