Monday, January 6, 2014

Christmas Break - Jigokudani Monkey Park

We spent Christmas day traveling to Nagano. It was a long boring day on trains. We got on the train in Oimachi (where our hotel in Tokyo was) a little after 10 and arrived at Yudanka Station around 6:30.

Before leaving Tokyo we picked up a few snacks at 7-Eleven. I saw these Mountain Dew corn snacks (basically Moutain Dew flavored Cheetos) and couldn't resist.

I actually ended up just eating other things and never got around to eating these until I was back home. They weren't terrible and I ate them all, but they weren't good. They actually did taste like Mountain Dew, which I like, but it just wasn't a good Cheetos flavor. Towards the end I got a bunch of the flavor powder and it was kind of sour.  

As we went further north we eventually started seeing some snow.

There were also some pretty views of Mt. Fuji.

Somewhere between Matsumoto and Nagano we had a really beautiful view of the mountains at sunset. This picture doesn't quite capture it though.

We eventually reached Nagano and there was little bit of snow on the ground, but not much. We then took a train to Yudanaka Station in Yamanouchi which took about an hour. A couple of stations before Yudanaka we started seeing a lot more snow outside. Yay!

After 8 different trains and 8 and a half hours of traveling we finally arrived in Yamanouchi . It was dark, but the next morning we were able to see the beautiful view from the hotel.

That evening we picked up some food from Lawson and played table tennis at the hotel. We had never played table tennis against each other and we were pretty evenly matched so it was a lot of fun.

The next morning, after enjoying a delicious breakfast at the hotel, we headed out to Jigokudani Monkey Park. We went to the station to take a bus but there wasn't another bus coming for about an hour and a half so we took a taxi. It only took about 10 minutes.

The taxi dropped us off near the entrance to the trail. There was a really cute shrine near there. It was so pretty in the snow!

It took about half an hour to walk from the start of the trail to where the monkeys are. It was a really pretty trail and very nice even if I did slip and fall a couple of times.

I never noticed a better one to get a nicer picture, but that's the manhole cover of Yamanouchi.

Such a winter wonderland! :)

Finally we saw some monkeys! The little ones were so fuzzy and cute!

Jigokudani is most famous for the Japanese Macaque monkeys bathing in the hot spring. It's really neat to see! There weren't that many monkeys in the onsen but overall I saw more monkeys than I expected.

Many of the monkeys were digging around in the snow to find food. 

They mostly ignored all of the people. They weren't shy and almost seemed like they were sometimes posing for pictures.


The little babies were so cute! I loved seeing them ride around on their mothers' backs. 

Here's a video of the monkeys! :)

We took a bus back to the station and then got a late lunch at Lawson. We tried to go back to the hotel to eat it, but there was a sign on the door and it was closed. I think they were just out picking someone up at the station or taking care of something. We probably could have waited just a few minutes but we went back towards the station and ate our lunch in a gazebo near there. It was a bit cold but not too bad.

Then later we went to the hotel's onsen, which was amazing. The main onsen was for women until 9:30 and then at 10 it was for men. So I got to go to the main onsen. It was exciting as soon as I stepped into the changing room.

Photos aren't allowed in the onsen, so I got these pictures online. I think at least some of them are from Yorozuya's website. 

After washing I spent a little time in the indoor bath. I couldn't really see anything in there because of all the steam. It was still nice though.

Then I headed outside to the outdoor onsen and it was beautiful!

The feeling of being outside in the cold in a hot bath is wonderful! The scenery was amazing as well. There was a nice waterfall and snow on some of the surrounding plants. Perfect!

That evening we also went out to eat at a small restaurant. There weren't many options there and we found that one on an English restaurant guide pamphlet at the station. I had curry udon which was really good, but I think I may have gotten food poisoning from it because I felt bad for a few days after that.

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