Race to Snow Monkeys

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

After a few days of glorious skiing, I had to see the snow monkeys http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/english/top/english.html.  We opted not to take the $100 usd tour and decided to try find the monkeys on our own.   Reid organized the bus tickets to Nagano which was a decent Highway bus.  The kids had their electronics during the bus ride.   But once we arrived, my job was to get the tickets while Reid and Vince (Lowe) were to organize the luggage and I was to get the tickets to Yudanaka.  I was informed that we had 15 minutes to make our train.  Sweating away, I was under pressure not to fail.  As soon the bus stopped, I grabbed one kids in each hand and raced to the ticket kiosk while the guys were putting the luggage in lockers.  Nervously waiting I finally reached a booth and was told we were to take the subway train…or so I thought.  I called the guys and panicked.  Where are the guys and where is the subway?!   I texted and called to find out where they were and as we chatted we almost crashed into each other.  We raced to the subway to find out it wasn’t the subway we were suppose to take but a local train.  Luckily before leaving the kiosk, I asked the seller to draw me a map and he quickly scribbled directions to the train and we were off.  Kids, in hand, backpack and racing to down to the trains.  As we stepped into the station, we saw conductor wave his hand for last passenger to get on….my heart was racing I could feel my heart begin to sink as I was cursing we missed the train.  Just as we approached the train the conductor turned around and waved us on.  Snacks in hand, we each grabbed our own section of seats and laughed out loud.

Japan is known for its bullet trains but the train Yudanaka was a local train and an old model – something out of an old 30s movie.  You could imagine it in some Agatha Christie novel.

As we rode by it looked as if the main activity in this area was vineyards or some sort of fruit orchards.  Not very pretty due to the season but interesting nevertheless.  The trip to the Monkey seemed to take about an hour.  Once we arrived to taxied ourselves to Yudanaka Shiubu Onsen.  The hike to the onsen was about 45 minutes.  Not to difficult to hiked but narrow at parts and a bit slippery.  Before arriving to where the monkeys were, there was a small ryokan and an onsen where a gentleman was relaxing in the nude which caught the attention of our giggling children.  The monkey area was soon after that and we were surrounded by monkeys.   More monkeys than I imagined.  I was a little saddened that the weather was warm enough that the monkeys were not in the onsen in their frosted glory but the kids loved watching them run amok.

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