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Matsumoto, Yari and the Skyline Pike

Coming into Matsumoto

The next day we drove on to Matsumoto down a long winding valley, where there is a classic samurai castle in original condition, just having time to see it and a couple of heritage buildings looking like they had popped out of somewhere like Brazil before driving out of Matsumoto to sleep in a winding valley below one of an endless stream of hydro-dams that litter the steep forested landscape of Japan.

Views of Matsumoto castle

The interior of the castle was a simple earthy military museum.

Views of Matsumoto and surrounds from the castle top

An old traditional school building preserved as a museum

An unusual Western style wooden house

The next day we drove over the Japanese Alps in peerless brilliant sunshine on tiny precipitous hairpin bend ridden secondary roads past Kamigochi and the skyline pike - a mad Japanese tourist route you can travel only on buses to avoid pollution of the tundra, gaining clear but distant views of Yari, Japan's 'Matterhorn', a stark piece of 3100 metre high rock, and down again to Takayama, which is a classic Japanese town with a beautiful old quarter full of temples shrines and old wooden houses.

One of a series of steep hydro lakes on the way up into the Matsumoto alps

View from an awesomely high hydro dam

A string of lakes above the uppermost hydro dam

At the top of the valley the road enters a twisting series of tunnels which you have to be very careful about to choose the right entrance or you may become 'spirited away' to the wrong destination. We chose to avoid the obvious route taking small mountain roads to avoid the large toursit route directly to the ski towns and the highway across the alps which you can take only by tourist bus because cars are banned to avoid CO2 contamination of the mountain flora.

A large mountain monkey

The small road we took wound steeply through precipitous mountain passes.

'Matterhorn' of Japan 3100m

Steep precipices along the side of the twisting mountain road

Coming up into the alpine high country

When we reached on of the resort mountain towns, we took yet another small side road winding steeply up out of the valley to a pass that leads towards Takayama on a small mountain side road.

Looking back down at the mountain resort town.

Looking from the summit of the pass down towards Takayama

At the summit of the pass, we found our way on up onto the alpine tundra was barred by the private vehicle ban which you can see highlighted in red on the sign below.

So here is a brochure image of what the tundra bus route looks like ...

A last view from the summit of the pass

Coming down the other side of the alps down towards Takayama

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