I feel like ringo

Obligatory breakfast pics.

The sun was threatening to shine today so we headed on up the mountain via the very busy gondola. Lovely conditions up there, so we got in a few runs before breaking for coffee.

Then a few more runs down the hill. I think we did six in total. That might not seem like a lot, but they are quite long runs.

A well earned lunch break.

As today was our last day on the slopes, we had to take some photos of our skis and board.

It really turned in to a lovely sunshine filled afternoon. Perfect conditions.

After lunch we decided to do the forest run again. It’s about 5 km and takes a good 45 minutes to get down. Quite spectacular though.

We made it to the bottom of the mountain!

Time to return our skis and board. Until next time.

The walk back to our hotel at this time of the afternoon is always lovely. Plus we see things like this.

Not sure how safe that is….

Here’s some more pics.

Onsen time! On the way to the onsen we bought the biggest apples (ringo in Japanese) ever. The apples here are amazingly delicious.

After our Onsen we had pork Shabu Shabu for dinner. It was ridiculously good.

And we got some more apple for dessert.

Thanks Nozawa. You’ve been great as always. See you next time….

Snow day for skiingj

Shinazawa breakfast photo. Delicious as always.

It was snowing A LOT today. We decided to take our chances on the slopes anyway. Instead of going up the mountain, we decided to go to one of our favourite slopes Karasawa. To get to Karasawa you ski/snowboard along a nice trail. It was pretty slow going along the trail. So much snow made the terrain quite flat – makes snowboarding in particular quite tricky.

Anyway, we eventually made it to Karasawa and exchanged our lift tickets.

Went up the gondola to the top of the slope. Very snowy.

The run was actually really fun, but it was freezing and visibility was low. Needless to say we were looking forward to a nice warm beverage once we got down. We met up at the Resthouse at the bottom of the slope. In the past this has been one of our favourite places to chill. It looked a bit dark from the outside so we were a bit concerned that it wasn’t open yet. On closer inspection, the sign on the door said “Open”, so we were relived and went in.

However….when we got in there, we quickly realised that it wasn’t going to be opening today, or ever. It looked like it had been abandoned. Really weird. Everything was still in there, plates, cups, food signage etc etc but it clearly had not been in operation for a while.

Another family came in and they looked upstairs and saw a similar situation. It was at this point, that we briefly thought we were in some kind of Zombie Apocalypse movie. There was to be no hot (or any) beverages for us. The snow outside was getting heavier and without anywhere to warm up, we decided not to do anymore runs. We headed back to the ski locker (Blainie wearing her ski boots – which are not the easiest things to walk in). We had a quick rest and de-snow at Sparena – was going to get coffees there but their cafe wasn’t open yet, and then continued on. Skis and snowboard successfully dropped off (and ski boots changed out of) we headed to Haus St Anton for cheese toasties and coffee.

Later in the day we went for an Onsen at nearby Shinden No Yu.

Then went for a bit of a walk around the town. A kind man took some photos of us for us.

So much snow.

We stopped in for an Onsen egg snack. Delicious.

Then went back to our hotel because it was crazy cold and snowy. Luckily we had pre booked dinner at our hotel again and yes, once again it was amazing.

Run Forest Run

Today’s breakfast at Shinazawa

The sky was blue today! So we headed up the mountain.

Got in some runs, had some lunch, that kind of thing.

Had some pancakes and coffee for afternoon tea.

Then decided to ski down the forest trail. Something we have wanted to do since the first time we came here.

It was really cool. Not many photos, too busy skiing. Plus it’s hard to take photos when you have snow gloves on.

We made it to the bottom of the mountain. It took about 40 minutes or so. Blainie was tired.

Later in the evening we had an Onsen at our fave place Furasato No Yu.

We had planned to go back to the same place for dinner that we went to the other night, but when we got there we found it closed. We were going to settle on convenience Store dinner, when we saw a cute place, possibly called Mountain Curry. We decided to give it a go. We met Steve’s work friends in there again. We both had curry with spinach and Onsen egg. It was good. Although someone in the restaurant smelt strongly from dencorub. I guess that’s what happens in a skiing town.

Whilst at dinner, it started snowing heavily. By the time we left the roads were covered in snow and large flakes were falling.

By the time we got home, we were covered in snow!

Tainted Glove

Another exceptional breakfast this morning at Shinazawa.

It was bucketing down snow this morning. We could barely see the mountains. We decided that instead of skiing today we would finally go and see the famous snow monkeys. Yes, seven trips to Japan and we have yet to see the bathing monkeys. Well, today, we shall change that.

To get to the monkeys, first we have to catch the bus out of Nozawa and back to Iiyama. At Iiyama, we got on the Shinkansen to Nagano (only 1 stop). At Nagano, we picked up a bento lunch and got on the Snow Monkey express. This was a 50 minute trip and took us through scenic mountain views to Yudanaka.

Our lunches.

Nice views.

The snow monkey express.

From Yudanaka, it’s a 10 minute local bus ride to the monkey park. At the base of the monkey park we bought spikes for our shoes to help us walk up the snowy mountain trail. It’s about a 25 minute walk to see the monkeys in the onsen. A very lovely, if a little cold, walk.

And just when you think “is this really worth it?” You suddenly see a whole lot of monkeys. Baby monkeys, big monkeys, monkeys fighting, monkeys digging in the snow, monkeys climbing, and best of all monkeys hanging out in the hot springs. They were very, very cute.

So. Much. Cuteness.

We hung around there for a while, marvelling at the monkeys, before we decided it was time to head back down the mountain. And then, Blainie dropped her inner glove lining in some murky brown water, possibly tainted by monkeys. Damn.

(Picture taken before the glove incident)

So back down the mountain we went. We met a little friend along the way.

Then we basically repeated our journey in reverse, stopping for a brief coffee at Nagano Train station whilst we waited for the Shinkansen.

We made it back to Shinazawa just in time for our 6:30pm dinner reservation. Dinner here, like the breakfasts, is always exceptional.

After dinner we went to have an Onsen at nearby Shinden No Yu, one of the many free Onsen in town.

A city blanketed in snow

Breakfast at Shinazawa Lodge is always spectacular. Besides all this, there is also bread, cereals and all manner of things on offer.

After breakfast it was time to head up the mountain. There has been a lot of snow in the last 24 hours. A lot. And it’s pretty damn cold.

After a run down our favourite slope we had to go inside and warm up with a coffee.

After coffee we went out for a another go. Visibility was low and it was still freezing. But it was fun.

Lunch time. We met Steve’s work friends again too.

Back out in to the snow after lunch.

Then back down the mountain in the gondola.

A well earned Apres ski beer.

Then we dropped our skis and snowboard off at the ski locker and walked back to Shinazawa. It’s a nice walk at this time of the afternoon.

After a brief rest at our hotel, we headed off for an Onsen and then dinner at Shichirohei. It was quite delicious. A little fusion-y, but done well.

Who locked the Katsu out?

Today we checked out of Andon and left Tokyo bound for Nozawa Onsen. We enjoyed our time at Andon. This was our 7th visit there! Just for comparison, and because the “10 Year Challenge” or whatever it’s called is so hot right now, here is a photo of Blainie at Andon in 2007 and then reenacting that photo today.

Miss you already Andon!

Next thing we know we are on a very busy Shinkansen to Iiyama. We ate tasty bento on the train.

At Iiyama, we caught the bus to Nozawa Onsen. It was snowing when we got in to Iiyama. Lots more snow in Nozawa. We had a cheese toastie and coffee at Haus St Anton with all the other Australians.

Very snowy here.

Got our skis and snowboard sorted. Had an Onsen. Bought some things for dinner and ate them back at the hotel. There was some pretty serious thunder and lightning happening as we walked back to our hotel. Kind of weird in the snow.

Oh yes, nearly forgot. We had some pork Katsu sandwiches that we needed to keep cold. Except no fridge in our room. That’s ok, because we have snow just outside on our balcony.

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.


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!)