Japan 2015

Shigakogen, Nagano

On our way to visit my folks in Himeji, we took the  Shinkansen to Nagano, and spent a night in Yudanaka Onsen.   It is a rustic town famous for monkeys soaking themselves in hot springs.  However, when we tried to take a taxi to the monkey park, the taxi driver told us the monkeys are not at “work” since they are busy eating deep in mountains.  The lady inthe  information booth at the station told us the autumn leaves are starting  in Shiga Kogen,  So, we took a bus to HASU IKE (Lotus Pond), and  walked on the Sunshine trail down to BIWA IKE.   It was windy and cold, and started to rain, but the autumn leaves were bright and beautiful. There were a lot of people there to take pictures at BIWA IKE, but the trail was totally quiet.

We visited many places on this trip, but Nagano was my favorite.   It has beautiful nature, delicious apples and grapes, and above all, people were very niceand  friendly.  I felt genuine kindness from people at the Ryokan, taxi drivers, bus drivers, and hikers.



After Shigakogen, we went back to Nagano, and took the Shinkansen to Kanazawa.

The gate in front of the station. Huge..

The gate in front of the station. Huge..

Kanazawa was very different from what I remembered when I last visited almost 40 years ago.   It looked like the area around Kanazawa Station was redeveloped and filled with trendy stores and buildings.  There is a huge gate in the plaza in front of the station where all kinds of events were happening.



We didn’t care much for the trendy shopping district, so headed straight to Kenroku-en.


From there, we took a bus to the old entertainment district, Higashi-Chaya Machi.  It was a pretty and touristy area with Machiya-style buildings, but we didn’t care for it since we were heading to Kyoto next.

DSC_0257(Oops!  I asked Bob to carry the shopping bag!)

The main reason we visited Kanazawa was to have some fresh seafood.   We went to Omicho-ichiba (their famous fish market district) to have Kaisen don for  Thursday dinner, and Morisushi (Sushi boat) for Friday lunch.

Kaisen-don was delicious, but I think I like Nigiri sushi or Sashimi, better.  I guess I prefer to enjoy each fish one at a time.

Morimori-sushi was fun!  There is a shinkansen running on top of the sush boat, and when you order a plate of sushi using the touch panel screen on the table, the shinkansen would deliver the sushi!


We arrived in Kyoto around 4:00 PM on Friday and headed to Kiyomizu-temple.  I thought it would be nice to seethe  sunset there, but it was super crowded.  There were so many people on the deck, I couldn’t find a comfortable to spot to enjoy the view.   I was surprised to see many people wearing kimonos.  At first, I wondered if there is a special event at the temple, but soon realized almost all of those wearing kimono were tourists from China.  I guess it is like Cosplay!   They must be very tired after going all the way up to the temple and down in a Kimono.   We wanted to take a bus back to the hotel, but all the buses were packed with tourists, so we ended up walking.

The next day, we decided to avoid places ranked high on tripadvisor, and chose Sanzenin in Ohara, an hour bus ride away from Kyoto station.  There, we were able to enjoy quiet time in a beautiful moss garden.



After that we went to my hometown Himeji,   Himeji-castle was under renovation for 5  years and was recently re-opened March 2015.  So, lot of people were there, but it is still beautiful!!!




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