Taki no yu
A few weeks ago, I went to Taki no yu with my girlfriend, in Nagano prefecture, for a three day weekend. Let me remind that there are 15 national holidays in Japan, providing many opportunities for such weekend trips.
I chose Nagano for its proximity as well as its reputation for having lots of great onsen, and our plan was just to escape the city and relax.
There are few things that I don't like in Japan, and one of them is its urbanism. Put simply, I think it's ugly and outside of the famous historical areas, you will have a hard time finding houses with character, even in the countryside (and from Okinawa to Hokkaido, I've been to quite a few places).
Therefore I was all the more surprised when I discovered Nagano prefecture! From the bus and along the road leading to the hotel, I could indeed spot many charming cabins.
On the other hand, the hotel itself wasn't even close to being "charming", but its somewhat isolated location in the mountains was perfect and I assume the area must be beautiful in summer:
The view from our room:
With such a great location, they could have arranged the buildings in a different way to provide a better view but let's not be too picky, it was still pretty and quiet, and we were soothed by the sound of the river.
The first thing we did after checking in was to hop into the onsen, very pleasant and perfectly integrated to the environment. Note that it is common usage to wear a yukata, always supplied by the hotel/ryokan, when going to the bath.
We then took some rest, had dinner and then another bath...but private this time: I've already mentioned it, but many hotels and ryokans have 貸切風呂 (kashikiri buro), special baths available for private use (reservation is usually needed and allows access for 45 minutes). There are of course many types, our hotel had three with similar layouts but made from different varieties of wood.
I can't describe how good it feels:
As we just wanted to relax, I hadn't gathered any information about the activities available in the area and instead asked at the hotel reception when we arrived. So the second day, we just took a nearby cable car to get a better view of the surroundings. We found out that it was actually a ski resort (there are many in Nagano prefecture).
Some other pictures:
I'll conclude with a riddle: what can one naturally find in Nagano prefecture, at 6000 ft?...
...No idea ?...
...No? Well, the answer was: an aquarium!
I wish I could have attended the meeting where they decided to build that thing!...