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Trip Report Snow adventures in North Japan for the non-skier

Discussion in 'Japan' started by fennekeg, Mar 16, 2019.

  1. fennekeg

    fennekeg Hard Yards

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    Nice, very interesting to see!
     
  2. fennekeg

    fennekeg Hard Yards

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    1 March - Yudanaka (Yamanouchi)

    Yamanouchi, home of the snow monkeys. We'd seen them before a couple of years ago, but that was in summer (they are lured into the hot spring with food in summer, and the water might actually have a cooling effect then). So of course we had to see them in the snow as well. I had planned two possible time slots, the afternoon in case snow was forecast for the next day (the park temporarily closes then), and the next morning to get there before the crowds. However, with spring being so early, I could see on the webcam that there was hardly any snow left :( As we'd already seen them without snow, we decided to skip the monkeys this time.





    We had booked a lovely ryokan in the Yudanaka Onsen part of town, not that close to the monkeys but because of that it was actually affordable. The place felt old but in a good way, it just looked all so quintessentially Japanese. We had a lovely large room and dinner was delicious.









    After dinner we walked to neighbouring Shibu Onsen to see the large lit-up bath houses. Very impressive at night time.


    Alledgedly, the bath house in the movie Spirited Away was based on this bath house, Kanaguya Inn.





    I think next time we'll stay here again (got to see the snow monkeys in snow), it's a nice place to stay and a good way to beat the crowds.
     
    #52 fennekeg, Apr 3, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
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  3. fennekeg

    fennekeg Hard Yards

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    2,3 March - Nagano and Tokyo

    Our last day in Japan! It all went so fast...
    As we weren't going to the monkeys the day was wide open. Nagano was the most logical option. We took the Nagaden train (no JR) back to Nagano, dropped our bags in a locker in the Nagaden (Nagano Dentetsu) station hall (as mentioned elsewhere a place to remember if the lockers at the JR station are full), and set off for Zenkoji temple. It's a nice walk from the station and the sunny weather certainly helped.


    Byebye snow





    Zenkoji temple is a large and old temple, impressive to see. We were right on time to see a large bell being rung, and we also came across a wedding couple having their pictures taken.









    On the way back to the station we took a small detour, first via a lane with stately temple buildings (and a mailman), and then a shopping arcade where we hoped to find a place for lunch. After quite some walking we finally found something, as you can find only in Japan: a place dressed up as a Jazz club, playing '80s rock music, with actually really good Indian curry and naan. Quite odd to sit there at the middle of the day, but hey, as long as the food's good :)





    After some train spotting from a pedestrian overpass to kill the time (Tetsu-chan was a bit disappointed, it was Saturday so there were hardly any nice trains running) we took the shinkansen to Tokyo. I did some last-minute shopping at the large Loft in Ginza. For dinner I wanted to have ramen one last time, and all of a sudden ramen restaurants were nowhere to be found! After about 15 mins circling the area around Yurakucho station we finally found a place doing some form of noodles, I liked it but Tetsu-chan got a bit nauseous from the odd taste.







    We spent the last night at Narita Airport, mainly to avoid any stress from having to rush to the airport in the morning. In the Narita Airport Rest House, well we didn't hear any airplanes so rest we did. After having plundered the drinks and ice cream vending machines one last time.


    Tommy Lee still promoting coffee



    One last Japanese breakfast, and off we were...

    Recap

    It was a great trip, even with the high temperatures. Next time (there definitely will be a next time!) I think we'll travel south to north, to have a bigger chance of snow and cold during the entire stay. And also perhaps go the first two weeks of February instead of the last two weeks, or maybe even in January, although that might be more crowded.

    Getting a rail pass was great, especially with the distances we did (it had already paid for itself halfway the trip), but also for ease of use. Getting green class wasn't really necessary though, it didn't add that much leg room, but I loved it for the quietness.

    Almost everyone we met was really friendly, and although of course part of that was 'just' Japanese courtesy, a lot of people seemed genuinely interested in where we were from and were we were heading. The one place were we met an unfriendly person was at the Yamagata bus station ticket booth, a college student-aged guy who so did not want to be there. But other than that everyone was nice. And not like 'customer is always right' sucking up either. The two times we picked up reservations the JR people actually checked our routes at the points where they had doubts whether it would work out, it was not like 'if that's what you want that's what you'll get'. And in a souvenir shop I was looking at an S size T-shirt, and the lady of the shop held it against my back and said 'no, you really need an M size shirt'. I liked that.

    For next time I have to remember to send more souvenirs and stuff home by mail, I really restriced myself this time in size and weight so that I could still carry it. And remember to send it by surface mail, I forgot the first time, air mail packages can get quite expensive...

    This time we did the 'non-ski snow highlights'. Maybe next time we'll do Ginzan Onsen again to see it really covered in snow, I'm not sure yet, but if we do I think we'll stay in Yamagata and take a taxi back after dusk. Expensive, but still cheaper than staying there. But having stayed there once was quite the experience. For the rest I think we'll go to Aomori and Akita and the area inbetween, for some serious amounts of snow. And there were quite a few interesting looking things around Aizu-Wakamatsu, both for trains and for snowshoeing. And the Iiyama and Joetsu lines also looked interesting. And Tetsu-chan wants to see Hakodate fort and more of the trams there. And... so much still to see!

    Thanks again for all the information, I will add where I can. Happy skiing to all of you! :skier: And thanks for reading :) :wave:
     
    #53 fennekeg, Apr 3, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  4. Hyst

    Hyst Enjoyer Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thank you very much for reporting. :thumbs:
     
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  5. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Argatou / dank je for the best Trip Report of 2018 - 19 season:thumbs:.

    I think I'll reply to your previous posts after reading them again.
     
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  6. ojisan

    ojisan Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    :clap:
     
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  7. 2ESki

    2ESki Addicted

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    :thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs:
     
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  8. shabu_shabu

    shabu_shabu One of Us

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    Thank you for a great trip report. One of the learnings for me is to do your research and pre-plan (which you clearly had done) but be flexible if those plans don't work out at a particular time. You made the whole trip sound quite seamless and I hope that was the case.
     
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  9. Amelia1810

    Amelia1810 One of Us

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    Fabulous report, thanks for all the lovely photos you have posted. Was a great read.
     
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  10. fennekeg

    fennekeg Hard Yards

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    Aww thanks! But I have to say I also enjoyed @Lady Penelope s trip report a lot.
     
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  11. fennekeg

    fennekeg Hard Yards

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    Yes, because I was a bit stressed out from work the aim for this holiday was to have a stress-free trip. So I booked all hotels in advance, looked up bus schedules and locker locations here and there, and made sure we had at least one alternative for each train ride, preferably more. I also marked some extra things to do on the map in case something didn't work out or we had time to spare. And it worked, it really was a relaxed, hassle-free trip.
     
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  12. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    An excellent TR. Good to see people exploring the places that don’t normally come first to mind when thinking of Japan. I’m very similar and love the excercise of planning things down to the last detail before getting there. I think Japan’s efficient transport makes this achievable. You can then really maximise how much you get out of your trip and end up with no wasted time. I’m sure you’re already planning the next trip in your head.
     
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  13. fennekeg

    fennekeg Hard Yards

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    Yes I am :D :woohoo:
     
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