Repositioning cruise to Nozawa Onsen via Matsumoto and Nagano

With a break in the storm cycle, Rob and I took the opportunity to continue northward on our journey to Hokkaido. Our next night stop would be Nozawa Onsen, a town that has 13 free public onsens and highly recommended skiing.

For the day, we planned to visit many of the Nagano tourist points. I was super excited about our first stop, the Daio Wasabi Farm. According to my Nagano good luck Japan magazine, it was open year round, but with going to a farm in the winter, our expectations were low. It turned out to be pretty neat with fields kept snow-free with flowing water and lots of Wasabi food samples.

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We headed to Matasumoto Castle next. It’s one of the few wooden castles that survived the Meji Restoration and WWII (and of course burning down due to any number of other causes).

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A Samurai warrior offered me his weapon. (I love that the face mask includes a mustache!) 

I had read that one of the specialties of the area is chicken marinated in garlic than breaded and deep-fried. The lady at the tourist info pointed us to a restaurant, Takagi, on the second floor a few doors down. They served us this huge piece for 650 yen. So good!

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For our last stop, we visited the Zenko-ji temple in Nagano. It was mainly closed down by the time we arrived, but the exterior was still neat. We also had our first “we shouldn’t be driving here moment.” Following Google maps’ directions to a temple took us on the a pedestrian street( we looked later but there really weren’t any do not enter signs, only a couple bike/walk ones on the sides of the road). A shopkeeper let us know, however, turning around was difficult, so he had someone unblock the end of the street for us.

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Finally, we arrived in Nozawa onsen and grabbed our towels and soap to try one of the public onsens/and check out the village.

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It was snowing as we were walking around town, so we decided to ski there in the morning if the snow kept falling. The parking lot had some amazing heated bathrooms, although later (5 am the next morning) we learned that it was day parking only except by special permit.

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