Gochisoosama deshita

Last day of skiing today. And the weather was delightful. Almost hot in fact. First we had our delicious, as always breakfast at Shinazawa.

  
Then we headed up to the ski lift. On the walk we saw lots of people out and about enjoying the Spring air. It certainly is very different here at this time of year. And the vegetable pickling process is well underway.

  
The walk up to the ski lift is our warm up for skiing. It’s actually a little tiring, especially once we pick up our skis/snowboard. So much stuff to carry.

   
 
It w lovely up the mountain, but the snow was already beginning to get sludgey early on. That didn’t stop us from getting some good runs in. And a coffee and chocolate break. And some photo taking.

   
    
 
Lunch  

   
The obligatory juggling of snow balls

  
Stalker shot of Blainie on the ski lift

  
This photo because it’s nice

  
Then back down the mountain for an onsen and one last wander around town.

   
    
    
 
We booked dinner at our hotel for this evening. We had heard good things. We were not disappointed. It was fantastic. Super delicious and so much food! All for 2000 yen per person! (That’s just a little of $20 Australian for those of you taking notes) What a delicious bargain. If you are ever in Nozawa Onsen – stay at and eat at Shinazawa Lodge, you won’t be disappointed!

   
    
   
Tomorrow we say good bye to Nozawa and head to Kanazawa. We will miss you! Mata Rainen (we hope!)

Let’s go to Nagano!

Breakfast.

  
We got out on the slopes early today for a few runs. It was so warm, people were skiing in t shirts! Pretty crazy this Spring skiing business. After a couple of hours we headed back down the mountain. We had our morning tea in the gondola.
   
 
We had a grand plan to head to Nagano for the afternoon to see a temple that we have been wanting to see for a while. After waiting for nearly an hour at the bus stop, we almost thought this may not eventuate. 

  
Eventually the bus did turn up, and it took us to Iiyama. Then we caught the shiny new Shinkansen to Nagano.

  

Once in Nagano, we caught a local train a few stops to Zenkoji Temple. It was worth the effort.

   
 
Inside the main hall, you go down some stairs, then you have to walk in pitch blackness through a tunnel. It’s actually quite scary. You touch the wall on your right side as you walk – you are meant to find a key, if you do then you gain enlightenment, or something. We both found the key, so let’s see what happens. Some Sakura were in bloom, the gardens were very lovely. 

   
   
We also got to go up in to the gate. There were some seriously steep steps to get up there.

  
Then we wandered down the shopping street all the way back to Nagano Station. There was lots of interesting shops and we actually ended up buying a few things.

   
   
We stopped for a dinner at a ramen place. It was empty when we walked in, then as we were deciding which ramen to get at the pay machine, a whole lot of people came in and suddenly the place was full. I mean, the place could only seat about 8 people, but it was still funny how quickly everyone turned up. And suddenly the ramen chef (all on his own) went from an empty store to being run off his feet. He made good ramen though.

  
Then we headed back to station, looked around a bit and caught the Shinkansen and bus back to our accomodation in Nozawa Onsen. We were home in about 40 minutes which was pretty sweet.

  
Then an onsen and beer (for Blainie)

  

Eat. Ski. Onsen.

That’s pretty much our life at the moment. First we eat a delicious (and very large) breakfast at our accomdation. (Note: we are the only people staying in the hotel at the moment which is pretty cool)

   
 
Then we head up the mountain on the gondola.

   
 
Then skiing/snowboarding.

  
Until it’s time to break for lunch.

  
Always time for ice cream. Especially Apple flavoured ice cream.

   
 
Then a few more runs in the afternoon to work off lunch.

   
 
And then it’s off to the onsen to revive tired legs. First stop, the foot onsen. 

   
 
Then Furasato No Yu for a good soak.

  
Then we collect our eggs cooked in the cooking onsen for our dinner. 

   
 
We see nice scenery as we are walking around.

  
And then it’s dinner time. Random things bought from various locations around Nozawa. Itadakimasu!

  

Snow way!

After the best breakfast ever provided by Shinazawa lodge (where we are staying)…

   
 
We decided we had better head up the mountain to see if we could find some snow. 

  
And, yes, we found the snow! And plenty of it too. Hooray! We spent the morning skiing and boarding.

   
    
 
We stopped for lunch, but afterwards decided we were too tired to do any more runs. So we headed back to the village for an onsen (to revive aching muscles) and a wander around. We checked out some places we have never been able to see before as they were previously too covered in snow.

   
   
Then, dinner at Izakaya Sakae. We have been here on every trip. Small family run Izakaya cooking up delicious foods.

   
 
Then we saw this man dancing and another man (the one on the right) making strange noises. 

  

Travelling to Nozawa

Today was mostly a transit day. We packed up and left Kimi Ryokan and headed for the train. 

  
The new Shinkansen takes us all the way to Iiyama. Then it’s just a short bus trip to Nozawa. In the past we only could go as far as Nagano, and it was a much longer bus trip to take us to Nozawa. We were getting a bit worried because we couldn’t see much snow.

  
When we got to Nozawa, it looked like a different place. We are used to the whole village being covered in snow, but there was none. It looks so different. We have been assured, however, that there is more than enough snow up the mountain. We will see if this is true tomorrow.

   
    
 
We went to our favourite onsen Furasato No Yu, then got fitted for our ski/snow board boots, then soba noodles for dinner. Blainie had a very large beer with a very little glass.