Nagano – Best Place in the World! Part 2

Nagano – Best Place in the World! was a much longer entry than the version that was posted last night. I think there might be a maximum length for WordPress posts. Anyway the piece was cut off in mid paragraph and I lost another 2 chapters.

Here we go again. I was extolling Japanese women’s joyful eating. They are excellent people to take out for a meal.

The second hotel also gives us dinner and breakfast. Not up to the very high standard of the first place but wonderful nonetheless.

Many dishes to come Amongst which is the obligatory kilo of soba.
Breakfast after dawn birdwatching. They also serve rice porridge. I eat a lot.

Our last meal together was back in Ueda the evening before the return to Okinawa. Tomomi san and Miyoko san take me to a Yakitori restaurant. I am a bit underwhelmed, as my vision of Yakitori is little bits of chicken on a skewer covered with sticky brown sauce. Not in Nagano!

Big chunks of liver, chicken and pork with garlic sauce. Delicious we had lots! I drink too much sake.

I think that about covers food, oh no, we had a fabulous sushi lunch at the airport on the way home.

Chapter 4: Onsen

One of the principla goals of the trip was to initiate me into the mysteries of the onsen. Onsen are big hot water baths that you sit in and think about stuff. Real onsen are fed by hot water springs that gush out of the earth all over Japan, but particularly in Nagano. Frequently onsen are combined with a hotel so you can eat like lords, sleep very well and onsen like crazy. Okinawa has few if any real onsen

We go to Yudanaka Onsen. It is in a town that seems to have an onsen for each inhabitant. Steam shoots out the earth wherever you look. I have no onsen experience due to Scottish prudery – naked in front of unknown men is not a Scottish pastime. The first place had an onsen but not a real one. I think the water was heated. I was the only male to use it so that was OK.

The Yudanaka Onsen is the real thing. You go into the first room where you sit on a stool and wash like crazy. I have never been so clean. Then into a very hot pool. There are other guys around who watch me with great interest, In fact you have a small towel to cover your er private parts. I feel no bashfulness. From the very hot pool you move outside to a pool surrounded by rocks and Azaleas. It is beautiful. It is raining during my first bath and during my second bath a Grey Wagtail comes down and has a long discussion with me. It is wonderful. My next Japanese trip will be a tour of selected onsen. Tomomi san is an expert and will advise.

On the way to Yudanaka Onsen we stop at the renowned Jigokudani Monkey Park.

Baby

There are monkeys everywhere. They are in no way scared nor aggressive.

I wonder what Kim Kardashian is doing?
Who would fardels bear?

Chapter 5: Sake

I have never really liked Sake. First I never drink it as Awamori is the drink of choice on Okinawa. On this trp I was instructed on Sake and it is fantastic. Just like wine there are many different regions and techniques for rice fermentation. On the final day we visit high class, small sake producers. The variety of taste is astonishing.

This one is cloudy white.
Glug

We buy lots of bottles with a vision of a picnic at the marina to celebrate upcoming birthdays with classic Japanese dishes and many different bottles of Sake. Probably won’t happen due to Corona restrictions. At the moment no more than 4 are allowed to cluster around the festive board.

So I think that is about it. I think the original version of these chapters was much better. But there we go.

What a great trip. So grateful to Tomomi san and Miyoko san for their hospitality and excellent companionship. Thanks to Japan. What a country!

Worse than ever bit of video.

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