Sunday, June 21, 2015

Weekend Trip in Nagano- Kamikochi and Shirahone Hot Springs

On our second day in Nagano, we went to Kamikochi!  Kamikochi is a famous mountain valley in Western Nagano.  The scenery there was very beautiful.

Man painting the Kamikochi mountain range


Getting to Kamikochi can be confusing though.  For those with cars, you are not allowed to drive personal cars into Kamikochi since they want to preserve its natural state as much as possible.  You have to park your car further down the way at one of the parking areas and take a taxi or bus to Kamikochi.  My brother and I didn’t drive though, so we took the train and bus from Matsumoto.  It took a long time, but it was very easy to understand and navigate the train and bus system.

First, we went to the Ario Matsumoto Bus Terminal, across the street from Matsumoto Station.
Ario Matsumoto Bus Terminal
There we could buy the train and bus ticket to Kamikochi.  We also wanted to stop at Shirahone Hot Springs, so we decided to buy the Kamikochi/ Norikura 2 Day Free Pass.  It costs 5,150 yen for adults and 2,580 yen for children.  After we bought our passes, we used our passes at Matsumoto Station to take the ALPICO Line from Matsumoto to Shinshimashima Station.  Once we arrived at Shinshimashima Station we waited for our bus to Kamikochi to arrive.

After riding the bus for about an hour, we arrived at Kamikochi Bus Terminal.  Once you arrive at Kamikochi, I recommend going to the sight-seeing center and getting a seiriken, or numbered boarding ticket.  You will need this number when you take the bus back.  You will have to tell the attendant which bus you want to leave on, so please don’t get lost while exploring Kamikochi because you might miss your bus!

After that, we started exploring and trekking around Kamikochi!

After we made it back to Kappabashi, we decided to get lunch.  We went to Restaurant Konashi (レストラン小梨) and had the spicy tomato curry.  We were both pretty disappointed with the taste though, so afterwards we went to eat dessert!  The first stop was Trois Cinq (トワ・サンク) for their famous apple pie!
Spicy Tomato Curry

Apple Pie

The principal at my school also recommended that we try the cheesecake sold at 5HORN near Kappabashi.  I really wanted to try the baked cheesecake, but they were sold out.  It is one of their most popular desserts.  Instead, my brother and I both had the blueberry cheesecake, which was light and fluffy.
Blueberry Cheesecake
We finished eating and decided to walk a little more before we had to catch our bus to go to Shirahone Hot Springs!  We took the 2:05 bus, and had to transfer at Alpico Sawando Shakomae bus stop.  We finally arrived at Shirahone Onsen bus stop around 3:10.
Shirahone Hot Springs
I love hot springs a lot, so I was really excited to go into their famous white water hot springs.  There were many places where one could enjoy the hot springs, but I ended up going to the cheapest one (510 yen, plus 200 yen for a towel).  The hot spring itself was nice but I couldn’t stay in it for a long time since the weather was so humid.

Our goal was to take the 4:21 bus back to Shinshimashima Station (as was written in the bus timetable booklet), but apparently that bus went to Norikura instead of Shinshimashima Station!  We were told that the next bus to Shinshimashima would be an hour later!!  There wasn’t anything else to do in Shirahone Onsen, so we decided to take the bus going to Norikura and to wait on it until it went to Shinshimashima.  There were so many mosquitoes so we didn’t really have a choice but to take the Norikura bus.  

We were expecting to get to Shinshimashima at 6:10 p.m., but after the bus driver went to Norikura, he drove us straight to Shinshimashima Station so that we could catch the 6:02 p.m. bus back to Matsumoto!  We were so surprised and happy that we didn’t have to wait until 7 p.m.!  The ALPICO workers were so kind and helpful.

Once we arrived back in Matsumoto we dropped off our things and got dinner at Minge Restaurant Moriyoshi (民芸レストラン盛よし).  After our long day of walking around Kamikochi and Shirahone, we were both in the mood for filling food.  This restaurant is very popular with the locals since the portions are big and the price is cheap.  They serve mostly 定食, or set meals which include the main dish, miso soup, and rice.  We were both happy with our dinners.
Crab croquette with side of salad, miso soup and rice

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