I think I owe you a bit of an elaboration on what I was doing in this small town near Nagano.
I wasn’t there just for the tea. Although it was very welcome.
It wasn’t even the roasted apples (yaki ringo) which were actually not so good. Puff pastry tends to get soggy pretty easily…
It wasn’t because of the food. Even though having a great breakfast doesn’t hurt.
Or to experience a kotatsu. Which I must say is a great idea. Think about having a blanket over your table, then heating it upside so you can hide your legs inside and keep them warm and happy!
Or even to stay at a great ryokan like the one above.
It was to visit the onsen! You see, the ryokan we stayed at is in a famous onsen (hot springs) town and there are lots and lots of onsens to choose from. There are also lots of pretty buildings which helps.
All day long you can see people walking around in yukatas and wooden sandals to try out the various different onsens dotted around.
This is one of the onsens we visited.
Now the onsens in this town are hot. If you know what onsen tamago is, this is it.
Its because they put the egg in the onsen and cook it. We were going to do the same with ourselves.
The guy on the left is me when I got into the first onsen. We tried 8 onsens in about 2 hours or so. I did feel quite clean afterwards. I later found out that the really really hot onsen that I stayed in for all of 2 seconds was between 50-60 degrees…. Hmmm. Now, usually my baths are 40 degrees. Quite a big difference!
It is a special feeling to be able to walk around when there is snow on the ground in a thin yukata because you have been thoughly roasted.
As you can see it was still rather cold.
Anyhow, after our stay at the town was over, we decided to take the short hike to visit the monkeys.
The forest definitely helped to set the scene.
Snow covered trails and all.
And welcome to the valley of the monkeys.
See that steam? That’s where the water for the onsen comes out.
And here we are, almost there. Stay tuned for the next post.