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Published: December 13th 2010
Destination: Kurumayama Plateau, Nagano Prefecture (Distance from Tokyo: 195km, approximately 122 miles)
Map → http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/nagano/sirakabako_yatugatake.html
Date: August, 2007
Do you know how hot it is in Japan in the summer? Maybe you don’t wanna know, because it’s CRAZY hot and muggy, too. You can go crazier than the weather is by the heat waves. Especially in big cities like Tokyo, it’s like hell because of the heat island effect and maybe more of the global warming. You feel the high temperature is attributed to something unnatural such as exhaust gas from vehicles.
So you wannna get away? Of course you do. So does everybody. But do you have an idea of where to go to pursue the natural mild summer weather in Japan? Ask my wife. She knows how to cool herself down in a summer retreat.
In August of 2007, she had a 2-day trip to Kurumayama Plateau in Nagano prefecture with two friends of her to be revitalized. Me? Left behind in a hell of the hot city. But it’s OK. I’m happy as long as she is happy. Anyway the following story is about the memories of her and her friends.
is, as many of you may know, famous for its abundance of nature. A lot of mountains, plateaus, lakes, camping sites, onsens, etc. Probably only missing element is beaches, because the prefecture doesn’t face any coastline within their municipal limits.
Except that disadvantage, this alpine prefecture is one of the best resort destinations in the country. Many people are attracted by the cool highland weather in the summer, while skiers/snowboarders can relish the powder snow on the slopes in the winter. Any season is great to visit Nagano and it is equipped with a lot of pleasures. It’s an all-in-one resort capital.
And Kurumayama Plateau centering around Mt. Kuruma is located almost in the middle of the prefecture. Its average elevation is higher than 1,500m (approximately higher than 4,920ft) and there are many tourist attraction places in it and the neighbor areas.
My wife and her company hit the road towards Mt. Kuruma. After getting off from the Chuo Expressway, a beautiful scenic drive course, called Venus Line (http://www.venus-line.net/) , was waiting for them.
They drove through several sightseeing spots such as Tateshina Farm (http://www.shirakabakogen.jp/sight/farm.html), Lake Shirakaba (http://kk.shirakabako.com/index.htm), Kirigamine Plateau (http://www.suwakanko.jp/nature/index.html#gotop2) on the way to the
final destination. The rich greenery of grass and trees and a variety of alpine flowers were greeting three ladies.
They arrived at Mt. Kurama in the afternoon and took a casual half-day trekking tour to explore the mountain. They first visited Yashimahara Wetland which is a main featuring spot of the tour. There are more than 500 species of alpine plants existing out there. They enjoyed the blessings of nature with the spectacular landscape.
After they hiked down about 3 hours, they reached Kurumayama Wetland which is another wetland of the mountain. And they had a late lunch break at a café of Colobockle Hütte (http://homepage2.nifty.com/koro-1956/index.html), a famous hut built in 1956 beside the wetland. (Blog page → http://koro1956.exblog.jp/ <Japanese>😉
This hut (a rough translation of its name is “hut of plant fairies”) not only provides you the accommodation but serves the tasty homemade food. My wife enjoyed a dish of mushroom pilaf, cheese cake, and special coffee brewed with the natural mineral water they got from their deep well. The lunch time also gave the ladies a magnificent view by allowing them to overlook the whole area of the wetland from a patio of the café.
After the full range of activities they were able to do, they finally checked in a very cozy resort inn, Bonheur (http://www.ri-bonheur.com/). She said a full-course French dinner was great, but she lost pictures of them.
Traveling Tips in Kurumayama
- Getting there by:
Train; Nagano Shinkansen to Sakudaira (70 minutes). JPY12,340 for a one-way ticket. (http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/routemaps/naganoshinkansen.html)
Bus; There are some companies offering highway bus services from Tokyo to the Kurumayama area (2.5 hours – 3 hours). Approximately JPY5,000 for a round-trip ticket.
FYI → (http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/express/suwa_shinjuku/info_e.html)
Car; Chuo Expressway (2.5 hours – 3 hours) from central Tokyo.
- To get around the Kurumayama area:
Strongly recommend to have a car. Otherwise you need to depend on using local bus services or taxis to go around in the broad area which is, time-wise and cost-wise, not a good idea. If 3-4 people share the cost of renting a car, it shouldn’t be so high.
FYI → （http://www.ekiren.co.jp/index.html） (http://rent.toyota.co.jp/en/index.html)
- Accommodation in Kurumayama:
Many lodges, resorts inns and hotels. She stayed at Kurumayama Skypark Hotel http://www.sph.jp/service/eng_index.shtml in 2006. She remembers the hotel had a magnificent view from her room and thetir onsen facility was great.
- Affordable Hotels
FYI → (http://rurubu.travel/hotel-list/200405/ <Japanese>😉
- Travel Expenses:
JPY 40,000 at most including everything. The more the cheaper by sharing a rental car.
- Local Tourist Information Center:
Kurumayama Kogen Tourism Association (http://www.kurumayama.com/e/index.htm)
Nagano Prefecture Tourism Association (http://www.go-nagano.net/)
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