Blogs from Nagano, Japan, Asia


Asia » Japan » Nagano February 16th 2020

Having enjoyed a day at Suginohara Ski field last year while staying elsewhere, we eagerly sought a longer visit this year (assuming bodily capabilities). The 'bodily capabilities' issue arose about a month before departure as Judy experienced a painful inflamed knee issue which was not getting resolved. Just before departing, Judy confided that she doubted she'd get skis on this year! This year we were joined by one of our children and his family. Adrian had married a Japanese national - Mari - and now have 2 children; Sakura 10 and Jack 7. Though they had visited the snow some years ago for a day, we assumed a prolonged ski holiday would be a novel experience for them. Having Mari help with accommodation turned out to be a blessing. Mari was able to secure accommodation in ... read more
Snow Dump Day
From Restaurant area towards Mt Myoko
Looking down the Gondola route

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto December 31st 2019

With snow shoes in hand, and poles acquired with pre Christmas sales, we were set. Decathlon Spain set us free from needing to rely on gear hire locations for any winter hiking. The snow shoeing bug hit us after two previous winter trips together here, and my natural aversion to skiing/ snow boarding (with its injury risk) plus P2s passion for photo taking lends itself to ‘snow the slow way’. Comparable to such trip costs in NZ, we have come again for a fairly economical holiday ‘fix’! Trawling the snow forecasts across a few sources had informed where we would choose to go. Fast forward to December 2019 post-Christmas, and barely a flake had fallen in parts of Nagano prefecture, where we’d begin. Air NZ again took us to Narita, and the flight, seat choice, and ... read more
Matsumoto castle
Nagano alps from castle
Matsumoto castle at zero degrees

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto April 28th 2019

We entered a busy Tokyo station to depart to Matsumoto, a small town in the alpine region of Japan. The station was hectic, likely as we were travelling at the beginning of Golden Week, one of the busiest if not the busiest, times to travel in Japan. It was also due to be the longest national holiday Japan has had due to the emperor Akihito’s abdication. A period of celebration. We collected pastries from a bakery inside the station, a pain aux raisin, Apple pastry and banana cake to eat on the train. By the time we got to the platform the busyness had settled down and we left for Nagano, one of the larger cities in the mountains in Japan, and a hub for alpine activities. After just over an hour on the Shinkansen, Japan’s ... read more
Strawberry Daifuku
Ramen Egg
Tea in Ryokan

Asia » Japan » Nagano March 15th 2019

We arrived in Hakuba to the sight of brown hills - not the snowy white landscape that we were hoping for. The previous year it had started dumping snow in the middle of November, but it looked like we were just going to have to be patient. We kept being told that in Japan it’s not a case of if there will be deep powder snow, more a case of when. In the meantime we got acquainted with our new house - a shared house where we would be living for the season, provided by the hotel that we were working for. Everyone we were sharing with was really nice, but it was still quite a change for us going back to university-style halls accommodation! It took a couple of weeks for the snow to arrive, ... read more
The frozen trees
Digging our car out in the mornings sometimes took a while!
Blue sky powder day - the stuff of dreams

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Nagano July 15th 2018

An early start so we could bring our trains forward. We wanted to spend more time in Nagano for Marcus’ sake since he was here for the Nagano Winter Olympics. The train was smooth, no hiccups or dramas. We arrived early in Nagano but unfortunately everything was closed being a Sunday and things did not open until at least 10a.m. We had our bags, so we did not go far except around the local ate breakfast and, whilst cooler than Matsumoto, it was warming up. It was a nice city, much smaller than the ones we had visited, or perhaps it felt that way. Marcus was able to reminisce and we wandered around only an hour, then had to return for our next train. The next leg was great and very quick. The trains in Japan ... read more

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Matsumoto July 14th 2018

We woke early and went to the bus stop to go to Matsumoto. It was overcast and cooler than yesterday. The journey was scenic. It took a couple of hours through the mountains and past an enormous dam. We arrived in a very hot, steamy Matsumoto for our final day in Japan. We dropped our bags off to our (unairconditioned) backpackers, then headed toward the Matsumoto Castyle. It was beautiful. We went in, around the gardens (it was very crowded) then into the castle up the many, steep stairs to the top (four floors). The views of the city were lovely. We decided to get an ice-cream because it was steamy and I could not be bothered eating anything else. We wandered around the town, through temples, shops and around the village. It was a charming ... read more
Journey to Matsumoto
Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto Castle

Asia » Japan » Nagano April 5th 2018

Mmmm, jumping in where some might fear to tread. When was the last time I wrote about toilet happenings, bathing techniques and walking around naked? Ahhh, never. But this is Japan, where the customs around body care are gentle and somehow elevate the necessary to the level of ritual. Our last few stops have been in the mountains, where hot springs are common. Several places we stop (both accommodation and public places like the Hakone Outdoor Museum) offer foot baths. Tidy outdoor natural pools of hot spring water, lined with seating where you can soak your feet and enjoy the environs before continuing on. Surprisingly restorative. Many ryokans (traditional accommodations) and hotels offer onsens. An onsen is a Japanese hot spring with bathing facilities around them, on that score not unlike those in the Rockies. Japan ... read more
One of the simpler models
Footbath under the stars

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Ueda October 14th 2017

Hello my fellow travellers! Me and Tran left together this morning and took the local train to Nagano where we switched to the shinkansen (bullet train) bound for Tokyo. He was going to Tokyo to write an exam, while I would jump of in Karuizawa where I would visit the Shiraito Falls. The Shiraito Falls is the kind of waterfall that is fairly wide and where the water resemble hanging threads of silk which is how it get's it name. Last year I visited another waterfall with the same name in Fujinomiya at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The Shiraito Falls in Fujinomiya was truly breathtaking and I were hoping that this waterfall would also be beautiful in a similar fashion. Just as with the last two days in Nagano it was raining quite heavily today. ... read more
Performance at Ueda Castle
Statue of Sanada Yukimura
Ueda Castle

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Yamanouchi October 13th 2017

Hello my fellow travellers! I decided to have a leisure start in the morning because the rain was really pouring down. I woke up at the same time as Trung did but I decided to wait for a while and leave later as long as it was okay with him. He had no problems with it, if I just waited an hour or so the building would be empty and no one would notice me leaving anyway and I didn't have to worry about locking up. I decided to do so and hope for the rain to ease up, at least a little bit, because my shoes and socks are still wet since yesterday and I had no desire to make them even worse. At this moment I only had like one pair of socks left ... read more
Alpha Male Soaking in the Onsen
Soaking in the Onsen
Jigokudani Valley

Asia » Japan » Nagano » Nagano October 12th 2017

Hello my fellow travellers! Today I was off to an early start as I left together with Trung when he went work, actually even a little bit earlier than needed because he doesn't want the others in his apartment building to know that he houses guests there because the apartment is provided by his employer. He spent the morning, before we left, cramming pretty hard because in a couple of days he will have an important exam in Tokyo and if he passes it he will get a nice salary increase! It was raining really heavily though so I knew I would find good use for the umbrella he lent me. He was kind enough to drive me the whole way to the train station in Nagano even though he was originally going to drop me ... read more
Enjoying the View of the Zuishinmon (Zuishin Gate)
Amongst the Japanese Red Cedars
Me in Front of the Kuzuryû Shrine

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