2024年1月15日月曜日

VIRAL TRAVEL SOLO TO NAGANO PREFECTURE, JAPAN DECEMBER 2023 & THING TO DO

VIRAL TRAVEL ALONE FROM KUMAMOTO TO NAGANO PREFECTURE, JAPAN DECEMBER 2023


@Jackie San

The distance between Kumamoto and Nagano Prefecture is around 893 km (555 miles) and the quickest way to get there is to take the train and then fly which takes around 3 hour and 35 minutes.


For me as given a short break from University, as a Solo Traveller on December 2023 I am choosing the cheapest public transport to travel alone from Kumamoto Prefecture to Nagano Prefecture.


December 27, 2023

The Solo Travel begins on December 27, 2023 using bus as mode transport from Kumamoto Sakuramachi Bus Terminal head to Namba Bus Terminal,Osaka Prefecture.

@Jackie San


The cost about Yen 11,700. About 10 h 12 minutes. Following the inattention that the end of December is the school holiday season in Japan, the bus tickets sold out to the Nagano. The best and most convenient alternative is to use Shinkansen (fast train transport). The cost about Yen 12,520 direct to Nagano Station. About 4 h 45 minutes. You will arrived the same day.

@Jackie San

@Jackie San (Nagano Eki)


THING TO DO IN NAGANO PREFECTURE


1- ZENKOJI TEMPLE

The history of Zenkoji temple started in 642, when Yoshimitsu Honda enshrined a Buddhist Image at the present site.

@Jackie San


The main image was created in India and introduced into Japan with Buddhism via Paekche in Korean Peninsula in 552. It is called “The Image of Sangoku Denrai” in Japanese.


The image has been believed to lead all the people to the Buddhist Pure Land regardless of their status, gender or creed. It has been earnestly worshipped by many people from those in power at the time to the common people.


The main image was completely hidden from the people in 654, and since then no one has ever been allowed to see it.

@Jackie San


The temple name “Zenkoji” literally means “Yoshimitsu’ s temple”. It is read as “Zenkoji” by another way of reading of the Chinese characters.


Nagano's Zenkoji Temple (善光寺, Zenkōji) is one of the most important and popular temples in Japan. It was founded in the 7th century and stores the first Buddhist statue ever to be brought into Japan when Buddhism was first introduced in the 6th century. The original statue is hidden while a copy of it is shown to the public every six years for a few weeks. The next opportunity to see the statue is expected to be in 2028.

The significance of Zenkoji to the development of Nagano was instrumental: many major Japanese cities have evolved either from castle towns, harbor towns or temple towns. In the case of Nagano, it grew from a temple town which developed around its temple of great importance, Zenkoji.

Most recently rebuilt in 1707, Zenkoji's main hall is nicely ornamented and contains various Buddhist statues. A fee is required to enter the hall's inner chamber, where visitors can take a closer look at the temple's main altar. In the basement of the inner chamber is an underground passage, which visitors walk through in complete darkness in search of the "key to paradise". The key is attached to a wall along the corridor and is believed to grant salvation to anybody who touches it.

A short walk behind the main hall stands a relatively recently built pagoda which houses the Zenkoji History Museum. The museum showcases a collection of intricately carved statues of different Buddhas and Bodhisattva, allowing one to appreciate up-close the characteristics of each. There is also a display of 100 Rakan, the disciples of Buddha.

South of the main hall is the Sanmon Gate, the temple's main gate which dates back to 1750. This designated important cultural property can be entered and houses statues of the Monju Bodhisattva and the four heavenly kings (Shitenno). Its second story offers views of the temple approach.

Just outside the Sanmon Gate stand one large and six medium sized statues of Jizo Bodhisattva. The temple approach leading up to this point is lined with shops selling local specialties and souvenirs, as well as small restaurants. At the southern end of the approach is Niomon Gate, the outer gate of the temple which is guarded by a pair of Nio Guardians.

The many abodes lining the streets parallel to the main temple approach indicate just how well received Zenkoji has traditionally been. Today, accommodation at these temple lodgings (shukubo) is still popular, especially for those who would like to visit the temple at sunrise to participate in its daily morning service (Oasaji). At the service, a solemn ceremony is held, during which visitors receive blessings from a top priest or priestess.


HOW TO GET THE ZENKOJI TEMPLE ?

@Jackie San


The Zenkoji Temple and Togakushi 1-Day Ticket you can buy and use. 1-Day Ticket allows you unlimited rides on buses from Nagano Station to Togakushi and Zenkoji Temple. The sacret Mt. Togakushi, the powerspots Zuishinmon and cedar tree avenue, Kagami Pond with its quiet water surface etc., you can visit all these sightseeing spots and more in the Togakushi area with this convenient ticket! With unlimited rides for an entire day, you also can enjoy your time leisurely. This ticket also gives you a special discount at Tokagushi's soba restaurants.


2-TOGAKUSHI SKIFIELD RESORT

@Jackie San


Located less than an hour from Nagano Station, Togakushi Ski Resort is a small but highly enjoyable ski area popular with locals. Consisting of 19 ski runs serviced by 7 chairlifts – a total of around 58 hectares of piste and 550 metres of vertical – Togakushi is indeed relatively small but unlike the larger resorts of Hakuba, it retains its Japanese character.

Mostly frequented by Japanese, you won’t encounter the crowds and hugely international profile of the Hakuba resorts. Weekdays are likely to be quiet and when the snow is good, this is a highly entertaining resort that you’ll wish you discovered earlier!The resort remains heavily focused on skiers with snowboarders a relative rarity and those that are there usually know what they’re doing. The lack of snowboard newbies at Togakushi is a positive, as the ski runs are uncluttered by first-timers allowing intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders to go about their business without hindrance.

@Jackie San


Togakushi can’t boast the massive snowfall of others resorts in Nagano. Indeed its season average of less than 8 metres seems somewhat disappointing however the quality of its powder is good. Togakushi also experiences significantly colder temperatures than other resorts meaning that the snow stays in better condition for longer.

Togakushi very much flies under the radar for international visitors with very few ever venturing to this distinctively local and decent little resort. Actually located within the boundaries of Nagano City, Togakushi Ski Resort can be accessed from Nagano Station using local bus services or a taxi. Popular with local families, the resort can be busy on weekends and holidays but should you make it there during the week, you are likely to have it largely to yourself. One of the more picturesque resorts in the region – on clear days you’ll have fantastic views of the surrounding mountains – Togakushi is well-suited to visitors wanting to escape the international feel and crowds of Hakuba and enjoy a distinctly Japanese winter adventure.

@Jackie San


Togakushi Ski Resort

togakushi-ski-resort
@Jackie San

Located less than an hour from Nagano Station, Togakushi Ski Resort is a small but highly enjoyable ski area popular with locals. Consisting of 19 ski runs serviced by 7 chairlifts – a total of around 58 hectares of piste and 550 metres of vertical – Togakushi is indeed relatively small but unlike the larger resorts of Hakuba, it retains its Japanese character.

@Jackie San


OPERATING DATES AND TIMES 

Dependent on snow conditions, the resort is typically open from mid-December until late-March or early-April. Lifts operate daily from 08:30 to 16:30. Togakushi does not have night-skiing.

SKI RUNS

@Jackie San


Togakushi offers a total of 58ha of terrain accessed via 19 ski runs and  7 chairlifts. Courses breakdown as: beginner 30% / intermediate 40% / advanced 30%. The resort sits between 1300 to 1749 metres with a modest 548 metres of vertical and actually offers some steep black runs which when full of powder, are left ungroomed and a lot of fun.

HIGHLIGHTS

Togakushi is largely unknown by international visitors however given its close proximity to Nagano Station and typically quiet ski runs, it has quite a lot of going for it. There’s a nice mix of terrain suitable for all levels with some gentle and wide runs perfect for beginners, while multiple black runs will keep advanced riders entertained. The black runs on the back side of the resort are steep and left ungroomed. Most people don’t venture down them on days of heavy snow meaning that you can find some truly awesome powder there on days of heavy snow. On clear days, the resort offers fantastic views of the surrounding mountains.

TICKETS AND PASSES

A day-pass will cost: Adults JPY4500 / Children JPY2500 / Seniors (50+) JPY4000 while a half-day pass will cost: Adults JPY3600 / Children JPY2200 / Seniors (50+) JPY3000.

@Jackie San


Rental & Ski School

Togakushi has a good rental shop offering both ski and snowboard gear, located behind the resort’s main building. There is also a ski school located directly across from the main building however instruction is only available in Japanese.

Backcountry

The resort does not permit backcountry and sidecountry is very limited. This will likely frustrate advanced skiers and snowboarders looking to get off-piste. If that’s you, Togakushi might not be the best fit.

Kids & Families

There is a good-sized kids activity area located directly across from the resorts main building, which on fine days also has great views of the surrounding mountains. There are no day-care services at Togakushi.


GETTING TO TOGAKUSHI SKI RESORT


Our ‘How to Get to Togakushi’ page provides information on how to reach the area from Nagano Station and from more distant starting points including Tokyo and its airports. From Nagano, Alpico operates local bus services to various points in Togakushi including the ski resort. To reach the bus stop, exit the station via the Zenkoji Exit and head to your left to the crossing (there is a large video display on the other side of the road).


Walk across the road and again go to your left. You will shortly come to the Alpico bus stand. There are several buses headed for Togakushi however the No.70 is the most convenient when heading to the ski resort. It takes around 80-minutes each way during winter with multiple services operating each day. Alternatively, a taxi will get you from the station to the resort much faster, taking around 50-minutes during winter.


3- JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK (SNOW MONKEYS ONSEN) HOME OF THE HOT SPRING BATHING, WILD MONKEYS

@Jackie San



The Jigokudani Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑, Jigokudani Yaen Kōen) offers visitors the unique experience of seeing wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. The park is inhabited by Japanese Macaques, which are also known as Snow Monkeys. It is located in the monkey's natural habitat, in the forests of the Jigokudani valley in Yamanouchi, not far from the onsen towns of Shibu and Yudanaka.

@Jackie San


The park has one man-made pool around which the monkeys gather, located a few minutes' walk from the park entrance. Visitors will likely already encounter monkeys along the path to the pool. The monkeys live in large social groups, and it can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions. Accustomed to humans, the monkeys can be observed from very close and almost completely ignore their human guests. Naturally, it is prohibited to touch or feed the monkeys.


The park has a small information center with information mostly in Japanese. However, there is a small explanation of the alpha male system of the monkey troop in English, as well as portraits of the park's present and former alpha males, dating back dozens of years. There is a live camera beside the monkey pool that is accessible online.

@Jackie San


Although the park is open all year round, the bathing monkeys are particularly photogenic when the area is covered in snow. There is usually snow in the region from December to March, and the best timing for a visit is January and February. Monkeys enter the bath around the year, but they sometimes need some encouragement to do so by park wardens throwing food into the pool, especially during the warmer seasons of the year.


Jigokudani, in which the park is located, means "hell valley" and is a common name for valleys with volcanic activity. Although its landscape is not as dramatic as some of Japan's other jigokudani, Yamanouchi's Jigokudani does produce a few steaming hot springs. There is a ryokan called Korakukan in the valley, which visitors will pass along the way to the monkey park.

@Jackie San



GETTING THERE AND AROUND




@Jackie San

There are two approaches to the Monkey Park: one requires a 25-40 minute walk through the forest, while the other requires a 10-15 minute walk from the nearest parking lot.

The first approach involves taking a bus to the Snow Monkey Park bus stop from Yudanaka Station (about 10 minutes, 310 yen, 1-2 buses per hour), Shibu Onsen (about 5 minutes, 190 yen, 1-2 buses per hour) or Nagano Station (40 minutes, 1800 yen, 4-10 buses per day). From the Snow Monkey Park bus stop, it is a 30-40 minute walk to the monkey park. The walking trail is passable around the year, but sturdy footwear is recommended especially in winter.

The alternative approach involves a 10-15 minute walk from a paid parking lot just to the west of the monkey park. However the narrow road from Shibu Onsen to the parking lot is not served by public transportation and gets closed in winter. Although rather time-consuming, it would be possible to walk to the parking lot from Shibu Onsen in about 45-60 minutes when there is no snow.

Some lodgings in Yudanaka and Shibu offer their guests free rides to the parking lot.


HOURS AND ADMISSIONS FEES 

0830 - 1700 pm (APRIL TO OCTOBER)

0900 - 1600 pm (NOVEMBER TO MARCH)

ADMISSIONS : 800 YEN


HOW TO GET FROM NAGANO STATION TO SNOW MONKEY PARK?


  • The Shigakogen express bus directly from the east exit of Nagano Station to the Snow Monkey Park bus stop in just 45 minutes. From there, you can walk to the park in about 35 to 40 minutes.

  • The Nagano Dentetsu train to Yudanaka Station, which takes 50 to 85 minutes and costs 1,470 to 1,570 yen. From Yudanaka Station, you will still need to take the bus or train to reach the Snow Monkey Park.

  • A 40-minute bus-ride directly from Nagano Station to the Snow Monkey Park. As many as 10 buses depart each day for the park and the bus ride costs ¥1,400.
@Jackie San


For Me The Best Experience....

One of the most memorable experiences in Japan, a visit to Jigokudani Monkey Park (using the Snow Monkey Pass) to see the Nagano snow monkeys in a hot spring is an absolute must-do.


Witnessing the beautiful Nagano snow monkeys up close, bathing in a hot steaming onsen surrounded by snow covered mountains is simply (monkey) magic!

@Jackie San



My main attraction to Nagano Japan is to Ski Sports or skiing and also see with my own eyes the authenticity of the hot water onsen for bathing wild animals naturally (Onsen Snow Monkey). This experience I will not find in other Asian countries especially Malaysia.

@Jackie San


With end my Memorable this time for the purpose of traveling solo at the end of 2023 to Nagano Prefecture For Winter Season in Japan.


I hope this Memorable helps you all and please share it, subscribe this blog with other friends.

@Jackie San


See You Again.

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@Jackie San

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