Located in Nagano about 200km North of Tokyo are the Tateshina Kougen Heights [蓼科高原[たてしなこうげん]] - this Google image search will give you an idea of the type of nature and scenery that can be enjoyed up there. Tateshina is where one would go for some skiing in the Winter or to get away from the heat in the hot seasons as its also a popular Summer resort too.
Wifey and I went up for a couple of days to do some filming and try to relax for a wee bit at the same time.
Just left base in Meguro Tokyo and set our car navi - 193km to go. Tateshina is not that accessible by public transport however - there are probably coach tours which go up there but once there its going to be a pain to get around. Rent a car if you dont have one and punch in the following address into the car navi.
Yuki-chan sitting quietly in the back munching on her melon-pan.
Hitting the highways. The highways cost money to use and in return they are maintained regularly and provide the driver with a smooth ride. Occasionally, you even see highway workers running out to the middle to remove bits of tyre or wot not that has fallen off a vehicle.
I found the highways of Los Angeles to provide the driver with a bumpy experience with bits of tyre and other stuff lying all over the gaff!
What are the conditions of the highways in your neck of the woods?
Is that cloud, fog or some spirit?
A lovely drive up North.
Another 7.5 km to go. Most folks over here rely on the car navigation and ours is no exception - would be completely lost without it!
Stopping off for some grub - absolutely lovely bowl O ramen.
Nankotsu [軟骨[なんこつ]] is chicken cartilage.
Menma joins us for lunch.
Now off to grab some snacks for the trip. Passing by the kids card game and gacha corner at a local supermarket.
Miaw Miaw - me better not eat this unless I want to grow whiskers.
Drinks are cheap here - 29 yen per can of Coke.
Yum! Peach flavored Calpis.
More snacks get desu.
Mikiri Corner [見切りコーナー[みきりこーなー]] is the bargain corner where contents may be a little bit crushed or boxes damaged - but all of it seemed perfectly fine to me!
Although some of the bargain corners that I saw in Seattle and the UK were like boxes with the contents actually spilling out @.@
Soba Cha [そば茶[そばちゃ]] is soba tea and tastes gorgeous! Pick up some on your next trip to Japan!
Our catch of the day.
Self service checkout.
On towards our destination. Still need to give you a review of our new company car - can you guess what car it is?
Arrival at the Tateshina Grand Hotel.
I love Japanese ryokan style rooms - the tatami mats smell good too.
There are usually some free snacks and tea on the table when you arrive at any Japanese style hotels - most of the time they taste good and are conveniently available at the hotel store.
Tethering the iPhone to quickly get some work done - most Japanese style hotels dont have WiFi - if you are lucky then you may get some in the lounge.
The tethering speed is good enough for Skype too.
For those of you who are wondering - that melon-pan is a different one.
Off to explore the rest of the hotel.
A view from the hotel - looks like a painting.
Many Japanese style hotels have hot spring onsen baths - some are public and some can be booked for an hour or so for couples or family.
This is our private onsen. If you are shy of showing your mammaries or little soldier to strangers then you may want to consider booking a private onsen - does cost a few thousand yen though.
An open air bath is called a Rotenburo [露天風呂[ろてんぶろ]] which I love. The water is so hot however that it makes you drowsy and many people every year actually die from drowsing off and drowning. The Rotenburo ensures that the cold air from outside keeps your awake preventing you from doing a titanic.
This is where you wash off first before you get in to the bath. All the body soaps and shampoo are also available at the hotel shop too ^^
One important thing to remember - most hotels put the towels in your room which you need to remember to take to the baths - or it will be a trek back to your room to pick them up.
Some toys for the boys at the arcade in the hotel.
Yukata are the traditional Japanese garments that are worn in the hotel. There are usually some in your room but you can find some in the corridors too.
On the way to get dinner - Yuki-chan already on her 3rd melon-pan.
The presentation of a Japanese meal is exquisite.
All tables will be served by a lady dressed in a traditional kimono.
I need to pass on the alcohol however as I dont (cant) drink.
Yuki-chan's dinner is Tamago Kake Gohan [たまごかけごはん] - egg on rice with a bottle of Oolong Cha.
Tonight we are having some sukiyaki where you cook your own food in boiling water.
It was only when I arrived in Japan when I discovered that I could eat a raw egg and that it tastes great - depending on what you are eating it with though.
Cooked slices of beef tastes lovely after being dipped in egg.
Our meal tonight is an "eat as much meat as you want" - although we dont go overboard.
Filling up with a generous serving of dessert.
When we go back to our hotel room - our beds have been already made for us. I was so surprised when I first came to Japan to discover that they did this for you. One thing you will notice here is that they place the beds apart for us - even though we are a couple. We just pull them together after ^^;
Many couples in Japan actually sleep separately as you may have seen from Japanese films or drama or even some anime - is it like that in your culture too?
Y U So cute lah Yuki-chan.
I love this Japanese style light - must have one!
Next day - brekkie is also Japanese style too.
Front of the hotel.
Unlike yesterday, its a sunny day today and the scenery looks lovely.
Before heading out for the day, its time to check out the public baths.
I love snow and blue skies.
This is where you strip down to your birthday suit - stick your clothes in the baskets and if you have valuables then use the free lockers or try to hide them in crevasses in your body.
Public baths are separated between men and women but are often swapped - for example in the morning public bath "A" may be mens while public bath "B" will be women's - then in the evening its the other way around - this is so that everybody gets to have a different bathing experience and view.
I could have floated in these onsen all day long!
You cant make it out in the photo but it was snowing lightly too.
Do remember to wash your body before getting into the baths.
Gorgeous scenery all round.
No particular agenda today - just driving around filming and taking photos.
Stop by at a lake to take in the sights.
Yuki-chan joins us for a breath of fresh air too.
Back in the car and drive for a bit to come across Tateshina Lake - this time its frozen over.
Tis time for lunch and there just happens to be a nice Teishokuya [定食屋[ていしょくや]] restaurant where you see the orange flag. Teishoku is a set meal of something or other.
A very traditional Japanese place we have here - while not in use at the moment, in the middle of the table is a pit where there will be some coal to heat a metal pot - the fish and hook would hold up the pot.
Yuki-chan so cute!
An interesting toy on the table - place a coin next to your zodiac sign and press the knob - a roulette spins around and the ball bearing goes round - when it lands on a number - nothing happens.
Interesting right? ^^;
Our lunch for the day.