Monday 23 January – Wednesday 25 January
Goodbye homestay and hello snow, The train ride to Nagano was pretty uneventful besides the head deep mountains of snow everywhere. I’ve never seen so much snow in my life, I was blown away by the sheer amount of it, I can only imagine how the people who had never see snow before felt. Once we left the station we bused it to our first stop the Hokusai museum. I found the museum to be really interesting, there was all kinds of art work from paintings to literally old manga. We couldn’t take photo’s for obvious reasons, even so I really enjoyed it. (https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/spot/museum/hokusaikanart.html)
Once we left it was time to travel to the Ryokan we would be staying at, the Uotoshi Ryokan 「魚敏旅館」. Upon arrival we helped unload the bags and checked in, I found the Ryokan to be quite nice due to the fact of our massive room with the boys. We went for dinner at a little restaurant called Tama ya chanko ryōri 「たまやちゃんこ料理」, It even snowed on the way there. Dinner was delightful and a few of us tried Basashi「馬刺し」raw horse meat. After dinner there was more party room antics then bed.
The next day we were spoiled with another wonderful Japanese breakfast that sadly not everyone ate, it was kinda embarrassing when people didn’t eat the food given to us… more for me I guess. After breakfast, we rode the bus to the mountain where we would see the snow monkeys, I was excited to see monkeys and more snow. After dismounting, It was a bit of a hike through the snowy hills to the monkeys, but we made it eventually and my god the monkeys were super cute. They were eating sticks, cuddling up in the water, and running around without a care in the world. We took plenty of photos and soon returned back down the hill for our pick up.
We made it back to the ryokan safely then had free time, a few of us decided on ramen so we found a little shop and ate till our heart’s content. The shop owners were lovely, and even gave us free apples as we left.
That night, we had a Kyūdō「弓道」demonstration with the owner of the ryokan. As I owned a compound bow when I was younger I found it super interesting how the Japanese style of archery differed from the western style, I really wanted to have a go but I knew the my pinched nerves in my right arm I wouldn’t be able to draw the bow without accidentally dry firing. It was still fun to watch the others give it a try. (http://www.kyudo.com/kyudo-k.html)
The next day we leave for Kyoto, I found the stay at Yudanaka to be relaxing as well as fun because of the laid back feel of the town and the snow. I’d love to return one day.