Third Time is the Charm!

04/04/2024 Third Time’s the Charm

Today started bright and early, again, but we started off with pep in our step and anticipation for our day. It is always good when the day starts out happy! J

Breakfast was first on the agenda, but not at all what we were used to back in Tokyo. Instead it was a traditional Japanese breakfast. We wore the little slippers to the dining area, where we slipped them off and put them into a cubicle. Next was perusing the selection of food, some looked more dinner like and some looked foreign, but thankfully a few were recognizable as breakfast items. Deciding on some yogurt, fruit, and bread w/butter and jam for Kathy while Dave opted to be more adventurous and tried several items.  Dave can even eat scrambled (not quite done per Kathy) eggs with chopsticks. He is definitely morphing into a native!  A quick hop back to brush our teeth and we were off to meet our guide for the day. We arrived with one minute to spare and he was already waiting for us. The Japanese do not seem to be late for anything.

We took a quick walk to the bus station where we hopped on a bus going directly to Jigokudani Yaen Koen, Snow Monkey Park.  (see the live cam Live Camera shot of |JIGOKUDANI YAEN-KOEN)  The bus was crammed with people all going to the same place. The bus was so full that Kathy, Dave and their guide Toru had to sit on jump seats, which are seats that fold down in the aisle for people to sit.  Dave’s pretty sure this would not meet Fire Code in the US as no one would be able to exit the bus quickly.  Soon we were at the park where we walked the two miles to get to the hot springs. It was well worth the walk. We wondered if we would see monkeys as it was getting warmer, and during warm weather they head to the hills.  Fortunately, it was cold enough to have them still basking in the warmth of the springs. There were monkeys everywhere along with just as many tourists. The monkeys did not seem to care that there were people around and would periodically scampered through the crowds or sit next to an unaware tourist. We were lucky enough to see babies with their momma’s, older juveniles, and some sedate elders. They were soaking up the warmth of the springs or grooming each other on the side lines. We even saw a group of rambunctious “adolescents” chasing each other up and around a tree. It was delightful and we enjoyed every moment of it. Best of all, Dave was not robbed. Guess the third time was the charm!

Next stop was lunch, and Dave was grateful that this guide was open to eating at a more normal time.  A chicken wrap with hot cocoa was a perfect lunch time meal. To make it even more perfect, Kathy and Dave shared a hot apple turnover with ice-cream. Yum!

Now it was time to head back down to the bus stop to leave Snow Monkey Park and go to the town of Obuse. This town is a quaint town that has a museum dedicated to a famous Japanese artist, Katsushika Hokusai. His lavish and beautiful drawings were on full display.  While a small museum, it packed a punch and was filled with interesting and old art work that displayed the art of block painting.  While in the town Kathy managed to snag her rice bowls that she wanted to take home as a souvenir.  One bowl a delicate shade of pink and one a pastel blue were symbolic of the feminine and masculine painting we just saw in the museum.  She also took home a hand towel with a depiction of one of his paintings and a couple sets of beautiful chopsticks. It was a beautiful set and she was excited to finally find some that she liked.  We opted to bypass the sake tasting event and instead wandered around talking with our guide. Deciding it was time to head back we headed for the train station where we waited for our next train to take us back to Nagano. Unfortunately, we hopped on the wrong train and headed back up the mountain. Hopping off we found another train right away and we headed back in the right direction.  Saying our goodbyes to Toru, we dropped off our day packs and set out to find dinner.

Dinner, always an adventure was fried chicken and fries.  While the chicken was recognizable, it did not quite match what it is like in the US.  Most of the restaurants we have been to use chicken thighs in their meals instead of chicken breasts. On the other hand, the fries were very good and could have masqueraded as typical McDonald’s fries. Unfortunately for Dave, the chef only took Kathy’s order and he did not get to order a meal. Lucky for him Kathy shared her meager meal with him and assured him that they could go get dessert.

Finally ensconced in our room, we opted to watch a movie on Netflix and get ready to travel by shinkasen to Kyoto tomorrow.

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