After multiple trips to Japan during the spring/summer, it was time to go to Japan during the winter to see the winter festivals, and do some snowboarding in its legendary dry snow. So, Arturo and I made plans for this trip, and our friend Regis joined us.
This started with a longish trip: SFO to Narita, skyliner to Ueno, shinkansen to Nagano, and bus to Hakuba:
In Hakuba, I found Atarashiya Ryokan a short distance from the main bus stop. It was a nice traditional ryokan with breakfast and dinner onsite, and where it was good that I was able to speak some Japanese, because their English was close to non existent :)
Atarashiya Ryokan was walking distance from Happo One lifts, which is good for the 2 days we went there:
>>> Go here for my snowboarding report of Hakuba's Happo-One and Hakuba 47 <<<
After 3 days in Hakuba, we took a bus to a subway/train to Yudanaka, and we stayed at Ryokan Hakura which was excellent and where Onozawa-San took good care of us, and thankfully also spoke better English than I spoke Japanese, making things a bit easier for us :)
The first 2 days we took an early bus from the station to Shiga Kogen to go snowboarding (report here)
the train to Yudanaka was a bit slower and less luxurious than the other trains we took, but it got us there
Our rooms at Ryokan Hakura were half western, half Japanese, which was a nice mix
We got to enjoy a very yummy dinner in our Ryokan after our first day of skiing
At end of the 2nd day, we went to a walk from Yudanaka to Shibu Onsen around sunset, which was a bit of a trek, but a nice city to visit:
the road to shiga kogen's remote bigger resorts was time consuming, nice curved bridge here
the 2nd night after skiing, we had dinner in a local restaurant
Our last day, we didn't have to leave so early for the ski bus, and were able to have breakfast in our ryokan, which was quite good and [Onozawa-San very nicely drove us to Jigokudani Yaen-Koen (Monkey Park)|] and then to the train station (which was welcome considering that my luggage was not fun to take uphill in snowy streets):
Next, was a trip to Hokkaido's Niseko.
Onozawa-San giving us a farewell