I really like Nagano it’s a city surrounded by mountains, not to busy, full of history and cafes with character. I went to check out the temple in town. Surrounding the temple are lots of street food stalls. Meat steamed buns and Miso ice-cream where the popular choices. That’s the best thing about the tourist destinations in Japan. They always offer up a funky ice cream flavour depending on what the area is famous for.
Nagano only has one natural onsen in the city and I loved it! Backed onto a forest, yellowish tinge to the water and multiple pools! Halleluiah, get me in that jacuzzi one... cold pool, hot pool, cold pool honestly in my element.
Dinner of local mountain veggies bamboo steamed rice and the beef… sorry veggies but Japans thinly sliced beef is the bomb!
You might notice that most of my food photos are served on a tray, all with multiple small dishes to compliment the main. This is called Teishoku, the Japanese have food down to a science. There is always something with carbs, sweet, salty etc... and the idea is you leave the restaurant with no cravings for any other food. Fully content! I guess the ideal is finding this kind of balance with life!
Close to Nagano is old town Obuse.
That treat on the right was sponge, cream topped with a hazelnut type ice-cream😋
After visiting Old town, I had what I like to call a ‘Tanya’ moment, I refer to myself in third person because it happens all to often. I don’t accept I’m that careless! I swear, I get so annoyed at my air headedness! I went down a grate on the bike and got a puncture to the front tyre, it happens. But somehow when I was repairing the inner tube, I put the adapter somewhere unbeknown. So now I have a repaired innertube and a useless pump.
BAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKAAAAAAA aka huge IDIOT
So, after a good hour maybe two of searching for the adapter I gave up. I set out walking around town with my wheel in tow. I saw a pair of bikes and a pump in one of the gardens. A very shy/scared looking teenager answered the door. Guess it’s not every day and dishevelled gaijin rocks up on your doorstep. Even so, she let me get some AIR phheeewwww!
Jigokudani National park
I decided, I don’t love monkeys . This particular spot in Jidokudani park was really pretty, the monkeys head there to use the onsen. Guess I have one thing in common with the little critters. The love for chilling out in hot water.
After my eventful afternoon, I went on a rotenburough onsen mission. 800m climb with all my gears on the bike just for onsen….
But it was a good one. I made it Intime for sunset, just! In my rush not to miss the view, I ran into the males changing area first. I hastily started delayering then a man looked at me in confusion, no not mix then?… Not my day!
But you should check out the link… this soaking spot was unreal.
This photos deceiving, I was happy to make it up but I was bloody knackered.
Descending the mountain in the dark afterwards and finding a camp in the middle of bear country was probably not wise but hey… onsen. I was kind of papping my pants actually because I still don’t have a pump. Not that that would help me against a bear but getting a flat would suck.
I fell in love with Nozawa onsen, the ski resort looked epic! Cute little town with nice eateries, local goods, karaoke and the best part… wait for it…thirteen onsens! THIRTEEN! I took a dip in the famous one, donation based and HOT with a capital H, O and T.
Why am I seasoning in Niseko? Nozawa onsen suits me too that capital Tee!
But no bike pump…
I never strayed to far off the highway maybe this is the reason I didn’t really come across anything overly special. Niigata is the biggest prefecture and is known for rice. I was cycling kms of flat rice field patties, which are pretty. Except on the bike, I felt like I wasn’t moving as the scenery around me didn’t change much.
I started to get that uneasy feeling when I don’t have direction in life or I’m not progressing. I guess I’m so used to being busy and filling my time, cycling the planes and not doing much. Well, it actually took some adjusting for me. But this is good, progress.
The towns I did come across where quite derelict and had a sort of wild west vibe about them. The stores all had verandas covering the pavements maybe it rains more in this prefecture since it’s the rice capital. Most stores where closed, complete shutter towns with no cycle shops. Though I did hear sounds from snack/ karaoke bars starting in the afternoon. A snack bar is I guess the equivalent to a working mans pub in England. The farmers must get of work and pop to wet the old whistle.
The coast line from Tsubame to Murakami was all very industrial. Niigata is definitely the working prefecture from what I could see. Trucks where in and out removing sand from the beaches. This seemed unusual to me as I’m used to seeing them remove snow. But lots of farms by the coast used sand in their agriculture guess its being extracted for this purpose… or more concrete, Japan loves concrete.
I liked the feel of Niigata city though and they had these sake venders. Could be naughty if I came here with some said friends after the pandemic. They even have a sake onsen but I didn’t go, thought it un-wise with the corona situation. I’m practicing being wise, if you hadn’t noticed I’m practically Yoda in these blogs.
They did however have a bike store!... I got a beautiful new pump. I felt a little lost without one!
Negi Soba, Sake venders and Tare-katsu don.
Im glad I didn’t though because my next onsen in Senami was super local and full of old gals wanting a chin wag. They found it very bizarre that single girl would want to cycle around the country on their own. Senami onsen was also rather eerie maybe only 1/5 of the hotels where still operating.
The coast from Senami to Tsuruoka where I am now was beautiful. A mixture of sandy
beaches, cliffs and of course tsunami barriers but the sun was out… The Sun makes everything more fun!
So I guess my twenty pence for today is to try and live your life more like a Teishoku tray. Just the right amount leaves us content. To much pressure to progress, to be a good partner,to have a career well? It knocks other aspects of our lives out of balance. What's wrong with good enough? We don’t have to be spectacular humans every day. Just be you and if you want to dabble in the unknown like this dairy delight topped with salt. Go ahead because we all need a little excitement!