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  • Day20


    May 28, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    One of the things i was most anxious to see in the Nagano area was Togakushi. A shrine in a forested mountainous area just about an hour away from Nagano. Marina helped me out with all the bus schedules and gave me some great tips on where to get some delicious cold soba noodles. The busstop from Nagano station was a bit tricky to find but i got there on time to buy a busticket and be on my way. There are a total of 5 shrines to be visited and i had planned for at least 3. The first two are just a straight 30 minute walk away from the entrance of the park and consisted mainly of a beautiful walk on a path through gigantic, hundreds of years old trees. The sunny weather made it even better. I got some nice seals for my goshuincho and walked back to the big entrance gate where the paths split up to some nice single tracks through the woods. An absolutely wonderful walk, that is until i saw the big sign with kanji and hiragana printed big and red and a picture of a bear. Now i would not say that i was nervous or scared but i walked the trail roughly twice as fast as indicated on the map. After a while i calmed down a bit and actually enjoyed the wonderful sight of some small lakes and shrines right in the middle of the woods. I ended up at the last shrine and after seeing what i believed was a wedding, i headed to the restaurant that Marina recommended to me. Now cold soba is a specialty of that area but this one had also a dipping soup/broth/sauce that was made of ground up walnut. You just pick up the soba and dip it into the walnut mix. It's so incredibly tasty. The people at the table behind me must have heard me grunt of joy while is was eating. I got back just in time for the bus to Nagano and after a day of walking i just fell asleep in the bus. (just like most locals. When in Rome... ;-)) Before heading back to the guest house i made a quick stop at Zenko-ji temple. I had been here befor at my first stay in Suzaka but had not been able to get a seal for my book. After that it was off to the guest house where some new people from Germany and Canada had arrived and another great evening with talks and beers followed. This is getting repetitive. ;-)Read more

    Hedy:Wat een mooi verhaal Pat, heerlijk visueel leesvoer tussen twee vergaderingen door. Die fotos zijn ook adembenemend mooi!

    Patrick Vorsteveld

    Thanks Hedy. ;-) Et vergt wat discipline maar et wordt ook een mooi reisverslag zo.

  • Day5


    February 21, 2017 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ -5 °C

    Wow. How great was Togakushi!

    We boarded the number 73 bus from outside Nagano Station (very easy to find, busses starting in 7 go from stop 7, busses starting in 6 go from platform 6 and so on - Brisbane could learn something from this). The bus took us north of Nagano up into the mountains which surround the city. The trip was scheduled to take an hour however was closer to two hours due to some traffic in Nagano and some cars sliding on the snowy roads up the mountains. Despite the delay, it was still an interesting ride seeing the countryside.

    We managed to get off at the right stop (Togakushi-Chusha) which was right at the middle shrine and next to the Information Centre. The gentleman at the Information Centre was very helpful (despite his lack of English) and we were soon on our way.

    Togakushi Shrine lies at the base of Mount Togakushi and consists of five shrines (Okusha, Chusha, Hokosha, Kuzuryusha and Hinomikosha). I had read about this sacred area and its amazing natural beauty. The five shrines are separated across a couple of kilometres of walking track and are steeped in a rich and mythical history.

    There had been significant snowfalls recently and it snowed all day we were there. As a result of the snow we discovered that many of the walking tracks were impassable and as such we decided to make tracks along the roads. The roads were very quiet (probably passed no more than 10 cars all day) and we enjoyed a peaceful walk for a few kilometres (though we were a bit concerned whether or not we were going the right way at first).

    We made our way along to the start of the walk to the fifth and uppermost shrine (Okusha Shrine). I had read a lot about the incredible walk to this shrine which is lined by 17th century majestic Cryptomeria trees. We gave it our best shot to get to this part of the walk however it soon became very difficult as we were sinking to knee deep snow every step. This made it exhausting and after about 500m we felt we had no choice but to turn around and go back.

    Despite this, where we made it to was still beautiful and well worth the walk. We did pass a few people with snow shoes and on cross country skis, so next time we try in winter I think we will hire some gear to make the walk a bit easier.

    There are ample walks to do in this area, including to the a Kagami Pond which is famous for the mirror like reflection it provides to Mount Togakushi. We passed a group who were making the trek to this pond. They seemed to have all the right gear and quite experienced.

    I would definitely love to come back here again (in both warmer months and winter) and explore the area further. There are many pensions dotted around the area which would also be fantastic to stay at also.
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  • Day5

    Soba Noodle Lunch

    February 21, 2017 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ -1 °C

    It is a very cold -7° and has been snowing all day - I have never seen so much snow! We are pretty cold and wet so popped in to this Soba Noodle restaurant for lunch and an escape from the cold.

    Togakushi is well known for its Soba Noodles, with the making of these dating back to the Heian Period.

    Our soba was so good. Once the soba noodles are eaten you are provided with soba-yu which is the broth the noodles were cooked in which you drink. The water absorbs the nutrients from the soba making it good to drink following your meal. This was a fantastic way to end our day of trekking through the snow.
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  • Day4

    Nagano Day 1

    March 7, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ❄️ 0 °C

    Very early train from Nikko to Nagano and then bus directly to Togakushi, a beautiful ski resort and supposed to have a few nice temples. Unfortunately with the snow, I couldn't reach the main temple and ninja museum but still had a good walk around the white forest.
    Excellent traditional soba for lunch at Uruzaya.
    I then met another French guy (also from Villefranche!!) touring Japan. We walked for a bit together and tried going back to Nagano but it was an adventure with a bus every 1h and a driver pretending not to see us near by a stop! It all ended up well with hitch hiking right away with a crazy lady who couldn't speak a word of English!
    Back in Nagano to visit the Zenko-ji and then hotpot dinner at Yamajaya.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Chūsha, Chusha, 中社

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