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5 travelers at this place
  • Day9

    Day 3 - Nozawa Delivering the Goods

    February 25, 2017 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 -1 °C

    3 days of skiing down, 3 to go. Big improvements today for both Sally and I. We got away pretty early this morning catching the Nagasaka Gondala up to Yamabiko Station (1,407m) and skied down to Hikage.

    The weather in the morning was snowy however minimal wind. In the afternoon however the weather cleared and we were greeted with clear skies and sun.

    We had a lesson in the afternoon which allowed us both to work on our technique. At the end of our lesson our instructor took us down a black (advanced) run. This was my first black run and I made a positive start, navigating my way down the first 30-50m of moguls which was quite encouraging. This proved to be a bit of a false dawn however as I spent the next 100-150m falling over and sliding down the slope on my arse (the photo of me skiing below was one of the few times I was actually upright). It was at this stage I gave up and decided to walk the rest of the way, which proved to be just as difficult, if not more than skiing.

    All was not lost however as we made great progress throughout the lesson and will tackle more of the red runs and explore more of the mountain tomorrow.

    In the afternoon we were greeted with an amazing sunset over the mountains to the west. We went with a very traditional Japanese dinner of burgers (at least my beer was Japanese) and got some washing done at the coin laundry down the road.
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  • Day7

    First Day Skiing

    February 23, 2017 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    The day got of to a bit of a miserable start with rain falling over night and through the morning. As such, we took the opportunity to have a bit of a sleep in and take our time getting up to the slopes. We got up to Nagasaka, one of the two gondola stations in the resort probably around 11am.

    We spent the day on green runs (easy runs) so I could build my confidence and practice my turns. By the end of the day I felt as though I was doing pretty well. It all came back pretty quickly which was good.

    We headed up the Nagasaka Gondala a bit before lunch and were greeted with thick cloud cover. We had some lunch up the mountain to see if it would pass, which it didn't. We had visibility of about 30-40m so decided to take it easy down a green run which goes all the way down the mountain. It's about 7km all up, so by the end of it we were pretty spent.

    We played around a bit on the lower slopes where there was better visibility (though the snow was noticeably more sludgey).

    Stack count for the day for me was 2. Each time I drifted off the groomed run onto some heavier snow - the runs are very wide and sometimes it is difficult to tell where the groomed part stops.

    It was a miserable day, so no photos. It's snowing outside now, they are hoping for another 10-15cm overnight so let's see what tomorrow brings.
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  • Day10

    Nozawa Onsen Day 4

    February 26, 2017 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 -1 °C

    We (especially me) woke up this morning feeling pretty tired and sore so took it pretty easy. We headed up the mountain around 10am and skied a few runs before lunch. After lunch we ventured up to the top of Mt Kenashi (1,650m) which is the highest part of the resort.

    We skied back down to the resort via Skyline which is a red run running along one of the ridge lines. It was enjoyable however challenging due to an icy run and large crowds. The ice did however make it quite quick.

    Another highlight was when we were doing down the Karasawa slope we noticed a partly submerged shrine of to the side. We ditched our skies and trudged (in knee deep snow, which bought back some memories) closer to it and found a lovely spot.

    For dinner we headed to a place called Sukai which offers a sort of Japanese tapas. It was a delicious meal. To finish we enjoyed (especially Sally - we'll see if she still enjoyed it in the morning) a Sake served in a wooden cup.

    One of the things we have noticed here is Sake is generally poured to overflow the glass and is caught in a saucer. After asking the owner of the restaurant and doing some research it appears as though there is no entrenched tradition in this apart from a fad which developed in the post war period and had since caught on. The purpose was to make the patron feel special by giving them more then what they purchased. This however is a bit of a con as the a single serve of Sake should be 180ml.

    The Sake was served with salt which we put on the lip of the cup. This contrasted with the sweetness of the Sake. This 'Yin and Yang' approach to food is something I've found often in Asian cuisine and is something I would like to play with more at home. I feel as though it is underutilized in Western cooking.

    Much of the same tomorrow. Only two days of skiing left so we will try to make the most of it.
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  • Day11

    Nozawa Onsen Day 5 - Uh Oh!

    February 27, 2017 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

    Today started off pretty well. Despite our best endeavors we slept in and had a bit of a late start. Still feeling pretty sore, we decided top take it pretty easy to start off doing some shorter runs and heading up to the top of the mountain and exploring some more runs up there.

    We headed down to 'Paradise' Slope and had lunch at Buna which is an Indian style restaurant on the slope. After lunch we decided we would give Skyline a go, considering our success the day before and the smaller crowds hopefully making it a bit more enjoyable. This would prove a mistake.

    After making the first turn I lost control on the icy, bumpy and narrow run and took a tumble. Going down I managed to twist my knee and felt considerable pain. Luckily enough some nice local skiers stopped by and called the Ski Patrol for us who came within 10 minutes.

    My first fears were that I had broken something, however it became clear there were no breaks. The Ski Patrol helped me on to the ski-doo. This would actually be the most frightening part of the whole ordeal as both Sally and I were casted up and down a steep slope to the top of the Nagasaka Gondala.

    From here we eventually made our way down the gondola. I somehow ended up in a wheelchair and given crutches also. Another Ski Patrol medic was waiting for new at the bottom of the gondola who then transported both Sally and I to the local clinic where I had x-rays, saw a doctor and found out I had injured my ACL. I am now in a knew brace for the next few weeks (so no more skiing).

    After getting back to the hotel, our hosts were absolutely amazing. Helping us change rooms to the ground floor, giving me crutches and a proper seat for the bath. Nothing seemed too much for them. They were so kind and we really appreciated their help.

    Feeling a bit sorry for myself I decided to spend the night in and Sally headed next door and got some take away burgers for dinner.

    A shame the skiing is now over for the trip. However will still try and make the most of the time we have over here.
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  • Day12

    Nozawa Onsen - Day 6

    February 28, 2017 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 -2 °C

    A bit of a quiet one for me today. Spent the day in bed resting my knee and doing not too much.

    We did venture out for dinner tonight though to the awesome Okonomiyaki place we went to the other night. Can confirm it was just as good as last time.

    It was actually really nice to walk thorough the village and remember how great a place this actually is. We will definitely be back.

    Near to our hotel a local group were playing their instruments outside one of the cafes and had attracted a bit of a crowd who were dancing in the street. People seemed to enjoy the song 'would you like some Oyaki'. Oyaki is a Japanese style steamed bun which is sold next top where the band was playing.

    Tomorrow we are heading back to Tokyo for the last few days of our trip.
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  • Day7

    Shabu Shabu

    February 23, 2017 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 2 °C

    For dinner tonight we enjoyed Shabu Shabu. Shabu Shabu is a Japanese hot pot style of dining where you cook your meal in a hot pot of boiling water. The name Shabu Shabu is derived from the noise the meat makes when you cook it.

    Meats are sliced thinly for quick cooking and you also get a plate of vegetables and noodles to cook also.

    We tried two meats the 'standard' which was Australian steak and the 'premium' which was Wagyu Steak. Both were lovely (though the Wagyu was exceptional) and we could not finish our meal as there was simply too much.

    Shabu Shabu is a very enjoyable meal to have also. We made an absolute mess of our table as we were continually dropping noodles and vegetables. It would be a great way to eat when there are a large number of people to entertain also.
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  • Day6

    Lodge Matsuya, Nozawa Onsen

    February 22, 2017 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

    We just checked into our room for the next week. We have quite a spacious traditional Japanese room with tatami mats and futons. The view from the room isn't too shabby either.

    We took the Shinkansen from Nagano to Iiyama which took approximately 11 minutes (which isn't too bad for a 30 kilometre journey). Iiyama is located north-east of Nagano and has a population of around 21,000 people. It is primarily an agricultural city, however the surrounding ski resorts and hot springs also contribute to the local economy.

    The city is located on the Chikuma River (otherwise known as the Shinano River outside of the Nagano Prefecture) which is the longest river in Japan (367km in length). Iiyama is home to a number of festivals, including the Kamakura Snow Hut Festival which occurs annually in February (we just missed the dates). In this festival snow huts are made and lights put inside. Sounds pretty basic, however I think it is something that would be great to see if you are in the area at that time of year.

    From Iiyama Station we boarded the 'Nozawa Onsen Liner' which took us direct to the centre of Nozawa Onsen. This 20 minute trip cost 600 yen each and we enjoyed some lovely scenery, particularly as we came closer to Nozawa Onsen. From the Nozawa Onsen bus stop, it was only a short walk to our accommodation. Sally was very happy to find her skis had arrived safely and were in the dry room downstairs.
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  • Day6

    Furusato no Yu - Public Bath

    February 22, 2017 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 2 °C

    Onsen translates to hot springs, so as you can imagine Nozawa Onsen has an abundance of hot springs which make for great public baths. There are 13 public baths scattered throughout the village (as well as numerous private baths in hotels and lodges).

    Wanting to immerse ourselves in Japanese culture we took the plunge (some what of pun, however it is considered rude to 'jump' into a bath) and give it a crack. We were recommended by our hotel to try Furusato no Yu which is Nozawa Onsen's newest public baths (opening in 2011).

    It was a bit daunting first and I will admit to a few nerves on the way there. Once you get into it though it is actually quite enjoyable and very relaxing.

    There are a few customs to follow, however they are generally common sense:
    - take your shoes off before entering (as is the case everywhere);
    - wash yourself thoroughly and wash away the soap before entering the bath;
    - don't splash or swim in the bath; and
    - dry yourself before going to the changing area.

    This bath had an indoor and outdoor bath. I tried them both. It is certainly a very relaxing way to end your day, and imagine it's something we will look forward to after skiing tomorrow.
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  • Day6

    Nozawa Onsen - First Impressions

    February 22, 2017 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 0 °C

    Wow. Every now and then you come across a place you just know you will fall in love with before you actually do. This is such a place.

    Narrow cobblestone streets, the constant sound of running water, the occasional whiff of sulfur from a hot spring, beautiful traditional Japanese architecture, sweeping vistas to the Japanese Alps, vending machines on every corner, wide ski runs, tall pine trees, everything comes together to make this place what it is. Oh, and the snow! As far as the eye can see.

    We took the opportunity this afternoon to have a look around, originally thinking we would be gone for an hour or so, we got back to our lodge about 4 hours later. Despite being such a small village there is so much to see and do (before even getting to the skiing).

    The towns traditions appear to be very much in tact. I look forward to exploring more of what this wonderful place has to offer over the coming week.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Toyosato, 豊郷