Today, we are certain will be the most memorable day in Japan. It started with waking to snow falling softly outside our window and just continued.
We rugged up and had a stroll round the streets of Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, where we are staying on a traditional Japanese ryokan. The snow was so peaceful and pretty.
We then packed up for the day. 2 layers of thermal bottoms were the key. We were going to see the snow monkeys! Our hosts very kindly lent us gumboots – 2 sizes too small but they would prove to be a godsend in the snow.
It kept snowing lightly as we left Togura station and was getting heavier as we came into Nagano. We grabbed coffees on the way through the station and got the bus heading to Shiga Kogen. The snow got heavier and heavier and most importantly the outside got whiter and whiter.
After about 40 mins we were dropped at the side of the road at Kanbayashi Onsen Iriguchi and quickly piled on more clothes and the gumboots as the snow was everywhere. We walked up th hill to the start of the trail that heads up to Jigokudani Yaenkoen where the monkeys hang out and stopped for many photos along the way.
Oh the snow.
We walked through a pine forest which we just kept saying things like “whoa” “It’s so pretty” “sigh” “look at that snow” it was quite possibly the most beautiful track I’ve walked on.
The snow continued to fall and we stuck our tongues out from time to time to catch snow flakes.
Then we came to the monkeys, OMG so cool seeing them swimming, bathing, playing and grooming in the Onsen. They were such posers. We walked back down the other side of the river on a road that is closed in winter. Oh so pretty. We made an armless snow person, snow balls and generally enjoyed the moment.
This took us down into a real old fashioned Onsen town – Shibu Onsen.
We then got the newly opened Snow Monkey express train into Nagano where we had a good preliminary look in a book shop and a department store. Oh the stationary! We grabbed a late lunch from the food hall and then got the train back to Togura where we had a cup of green tea then we walked round the corner to a foot Onsen to revive our sore and weary feet (the gumboots were great but they were tight).
Back to the ryokan where we would be having an amazing traditional meal served in our room. There were 12 different dishes/courses ! OMG it was incredible and it cost us about $35. Similar in Brisbane would be $200 plus we guess. We are getting the matching breakfast in the morning 🙂
I will post photos and more text about the meal when we get home. Tomorrow we are going to see a piggy bank museum and some other local shops before we get on the train to Tokyo.