I just came back from winter vacation but there was a three day weekend the second week of January (Coming of Age Day). Took advantage of this break to go somewhere, and PG (one of my friends) wanted to go somewhere special for her birthday, so we went to Nagano.
Nagano is famous for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1998, but there is also an area that is famous for onsens (especially one where monkey’s enter). PG found a great ryokan (Japanese style inn), great price and location. The area we were in was called Shibu-Onsen. There are 9 different onsens that we could enter (we paid a fee with our ryokan to get a key to go to all of the onsens). Each is supposed to have different minerals and able to heal different sicknesses. Also each had a stamp. So I also collected the stamps too.
Each onsen had information posted and it said that the water temperatures ranged from 50-70.2 degrees Celsius (a normal bath water temperature in Japan is about 42-44 degrees). So we got dressed up in yukata (Japanese cotton summer kimono, but often worn when going to onsen and after baths) and set out to the different onsens. Keep in mind that the temperature outside is about 2-4degrees (in the 30s) and colder at night. So the first onsen was extremely hard to enter. I had a hard time sticking even one foot in. But eventually we got into the first onsen. Another lady came into the one we were in and said the other ones were hotter….(but I swear that first ones we entered were the hottest, probably because we weren’t used to it). But pretty much we were wennies at first complaining about the temperature.
The next day it was much easier to enter the onsens. I could enter all of them easily. Our ryokan also had an indoor and outdoor onsen as well. I really liked the outdoor one because it had three separate pools with different temperatures.
We also hiked up to the area that monkeys enter an onesen. They have a special park where you can see this (humans don’t enter with them). The monkeys are very used to humans and just kind of sit there and do their own thing while visitors are taking tons of pictures. There was snow on the ground and it was a little slick. The last day we were there it snowed so we went to see the monkeys again.
It snowed all day, and our bus back to Nagoya was cancelled. We ended up taking the train (had to pay extra, and I need to get a bus refund later too). Later I ended up getting the wrong change back at a convenience store leaving me with pretty much no money….But overall, the trip was very relaxing. I enjoyed the onsens a lot.
Lately whenever people see me they are a little confused. Some can tell that I’m a foreigner but are confused as to why I can speak Japanese, which leads to them asking if I’m half-Japanese; and some just plain out assume I’m Japanese. I’ve been told that I’m starting to pick up a lot of Japanese mannerisms. Anyway, I guess that’s a good (or maybe bad) thing. Feels like I’m turning Japanese (I can even enter the same boiling hot onsens that they can). I have a lot planned for the next coming months (I’m going to be poor) so I’m excited!!!
Take a look the photos from this trip. I just uploaded the photos in bulk (I didn’t edit or go through them).