Archives for posts with tag: yudanaka

So I’ve talked about the onsen, the snow monkeys and their park, the food… What about the town of Yudanaka itself?

For some reason, we took a taxi out each time we went anywhere. The only exception to this was when Craig picked us up for what would be The Greatest Birthday Ever, but as per the Ted Mosbyism the blog is slowly sinking into, that’s a story for another day. What this usually meant in turn was that we then had to figure out how to get back, since the ryokan would call a taxi for us to go out, but we had no means of contacting one once we were out in the sticks…

It may not be obvious in the above photo, but I am at that stage, and every other time I got in a car in this town, bloody terrified. Every road is ice: not the pleasant sort that melts quickly and or is gritted by an efficient county council, but a thick block of frozen doom. No one brakes their car in this town, they just ride the momentum and swerve as needs.

You may need a change of underwear when they bring you over corners suspended by gaping chasms. Read the rest of this entry »

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People this Christmas managed to get the term ‘food coma’ trending on Twitter. Lightweights and poseurs all – if a true food coma had happened, no tweeting until after the event could there have been. No, I have been to the land of the food coma and it is not this fair isle. Behold the 20+ course meal that greeted us on our arrival in Yudanaka and the Yoroduya Shiraiso!

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Part of the major attraction to Yudanaka is the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. Getting there is interesting as it’s on the outskirts of town and a taxi will get you as far as here…

… or about 10 to 15 minutes walk from the above, depending on your ability to ascend ice. Fair warning: going to Yudanaka just after the New Year is likely to welcome you with surfaces more ice than man. A decent pair of snow boots isn’t essential but would be very useful… Read the rest of this entry »

In three days, I spent more time in a bath that I have for the two decades preceding them…

Water forms a major part of Japanese culture – it’s a medium which can connect you with other worlds. Westerners saw Ringu and thought “Yeek! Scary lady comes forth from water which we did not expect!”, but for the Japanese, it’s an intrinsic part of their folklore that goes without saying. Yudanaka is a town famous for its onsens (bath houses), and… Have you seen Spirited Away? That’s about the closest cultural touchstone I can think of to describe the town. It usually doesn’t get a lot of discussion as it doesn’t look like either Blade Runner or The Seven Samurai, but it’s probably one of the most quintessentially Japanese places you can visit, as this is where the Japanese come to relax.

Or at least the Japanese that can afford to visit come to relax, possibly. Japan is a pretty expensive place to be, so gauging who does what when and where can be tricky (and I tend to be about as sensitive as a brick to the face, so let’s move on…) Read the rest of this entry »

While en route to Yudanaka, a wonderful thing happened.

A while before we flew out, the sage Chris Butcher posted about a delicacy he found in the vending machines of Japan. A thing of wonder and loveliness. A prize in canned form. He made me aware of the Morinaga Pancake Milkshake. A hot drink which also bore the flavours of butter and maple syrup. And lo, an obsession was born. Read the rest of this entry »

My most common hits are still coming from Scott Pilgrim searches. Were I to take it as an indicator of scale, O’Malley’s gem is more important than Terry Pratchett.

I can’t choose between them, I love them both too much.

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I’m tremendously happy that I didn’t make a New Years resolution to blog more. Aside from the fact that I have never made a New Year’s resolution with a straight face or possible scale, reality has struck against me and she. I had planned to blog about Japan while in Japan: this was first hampered by being stranded in London for eight days under weather conditions favourably thought of as ‘arctic’; secondary hampering came from trying to write about the said personal disaster. It’s too depressing to go back to a very bad headspace involving high stress, failing health, damaged ankles, impossible phone calls and red tape cutting off your ability to function while on honeymoon. The return fared no better, as we came back to a house still without heating (a long story 13 months and counting in the making), a still-broken fridge, doors as yet still-unrebarrelled and, but a few days after landing the eagle, a kitchen flooded thanks to a burst pipe.

And that’s just the highlights!

It’d be very easy to just roll over and whine, but to Amsterdam with that noise. This is an upbeat blog, goddamnit, and if I can avoid cursing up a storm here and on Twitter through sheer force of will in the last few weeks, then damn it we will beat Misery’s ass until Kathy Bates turns up with the notice of surrender. For all the rough, nasty, horrible crap we went through in the days that preceded and followed the Wedthing, we also got to meet a lot of good and splendid people and relish fantastic opportunities.

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