Nagano, Day 1

I was invited on a 2-day trip to an onsen (hot spring) in Nagano prefecture with a trio of friends (one of whom I hadn't met yet). Visiting an onsen was one of the things on my must-do-in-Japan list, and I knew doing it with these particular friends would only make the experience even better, so I signed up right away.

We were to rendevous in Nagano late in the morning, so I left early from Tokyo with one of my friends on the Azusa train. I had an aisle seat but kept taking so many shots out of the window that my friend graciously just gave me his window seat. I think I put it to good use.

We didn't have to wait long to start seeing some great sights.

That's a lot of rails.

Mountains, sweet mountains.

I've been waiting a long time to see
these sorts of sights again.

I'd love to go biking out here.

Is that Mt. Fuji?

Gorgeous views aplenty! It shouldn't surprise anyone that knows me well to learn that I took about 150 photos just inside the train. (It looks like my official photo gallery will be healthy for some time.)

Eventually—after almost 3 hours of chatting, reading, and light gaming—we made it to Chino Station (茅野駅)!

We had a few minutes before our friends arrived on a separate train, so we killed some time wandering around the station.

Inside a nearby shopping center.

Once our friends arrived, we rented a car and headed out.

A bit of lunch:

Then more driving:

A brief stop at a lookout point:

We stopped to ride a ropeway tram up a mountainside:

There were a number of trails on the top of the mountain:

We rested for a quick snack while there:

Then back to it:

Finally, after snaking through mountain roads, we arrived the onsen hotel, Takinoyu (滝の湯):

This was my first natural onsen experience. (I've been to a public bath and an artificial onsen in Okazaki before, though). We jump into the onsen as soon as we arrived (lovely!), then ate and rested for a while and played some card games (Uno is universal and was as fun as ever), and then we tried out the outdoor onsen (野天風呂) late in the evening, when it was cool outside.

I obviously don't have any onsen shots but the outdoor one was quite beautiful. The water was perfect, it was quiet out, and the onsen was nearly empty. I think I stayed in the water longer than anyone I saw. I soaked hard.

(I'd post a photo of me in my slightly small XL yukata, but I'm not sure that Google's servers could handle the surge of traffic.)

After that late-night dip, we went to bed and ended day one of Nagano.

Slept like a rock.


bikenglish said...




ジョン said...



bikenglish said...



ジョン said...