Yuzawa Travel Guide

Yuzawa Things to Do

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    by PaleFace_Fields Written Oct 19, 2009

    Onsen...

    Mother nature's Jaquzzi. Japan, being a series of volcanic islands, has a lot of hot water
    coming out of the ground and Onsen is the Japanese tradition of a bunch of naked people sitting around in this natural hot tub.

    All over Japan, there are hot bubbling springs to be enjoyed. I tried this out in Yuzawa and Nara. Yuzawa is famous for these Onsen and there are many in town. Almost
    every hotel and guesthouse has it's own Onsen. As with all things Jap, there is special ettiquette to be observed. Normally, the baths are seperated by gender and you are expected to go in naked. You have to shower off before you get in. Try not to look too smug about being the 'big boy' in the room. Don't sing. Don't bring boats, rubber ducks or other toys to the bath.

    The waters are supposed to be healing, they most definately are relaxing. Especially after a day in the snow. If I could find one that served hot sake you take in the bath, it would be perfection.

    Related to:
    • Spa and Resort
    • Luxury Travel
    • Adventure Travel

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    by PaleFace_Fields Written Oct 14, 2009

    Christmas Day, 2008… Hurtling down a Japanese mountain on my snowboard, blue sky and pine trees, jap pop music playing from god knows where… a good way to spend Christmas. Normally, I’d be watching the bond movie with a couple of sherrys.

    The snow was a bit late that year in Yuzawa, so when we arrived there wasn’t any – fortunately the first flakes started falling just as we pulled up to the hotel in the complementary bus. The snow was really coming down as we settled in and I gave a silent prayer of thanks to Pingu, patron deity of skiing at the NASPA hotel who had his own statue and shrine in the lobby.

    Yuzawa itself was mostly snow free, so the hotel were bussing people to the nearby Kagura (mount Naeba), where there were some good runs. The main ropeway is at a place called Mitsumata (you can get there by public bus or car in about 10 mins) Around the station are several shops for ski wear and places to hire the equipment. There’s also some food options for a quick noodle break.

    We took a gondola to the top of the mountain, a very scenic ride in itself, then we boarded up and took off down the slopes. Conditions were good, it had stopped snowing and we got some sun on the way down. It wasn’t too crowded and the snow was powdery, till you got to the lower slopes. It took over an hour to traverse all the way to the bottom, with a few of my usual rest breaks on the way (that’s when you fall over and can’t get up for a while). Some Jap carols added to my general Christmas cheer and the ever present vending machines gave me hot coffee and cold beer as required. Returned to the hotel buzzing.

    That night, it snowed heavily and when we got up on boxing day, all Yuzawa was completely covered – the snow continued all day so when we returned to Kagura, we stayed on the lower slopes which were being deluged with the stuff. It was much busier and visibility was low as high winds and heavy snow battered us. We got some good boarding in though – the slopes were being constantly refreshed by the fall. Returned, weary and frozen, to the Hotel and had a hot jaquzi and onsen.

    Related to:
    • Spa and Resort
    • Adventure Travel
    • Skiing and Boarding

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    by PaleFace_Fields Written Aug 26, 2009

    At the far end of the Train Station is the Sake Museum. I use the word 'museum' in a very loose sense of the word - It's not about learning sake stuff (actually it may be, I couldn't understand most of what was said or written here) it's about trying it. There were loads of different varieties from all over Japan, of various strengths, served hot or cold. You pay the guy at the counter a few yen and get tokens - each token triggers a shot of the lovely rice juice from one of the dispensing machines. When we arrived, the counter guy welcomed us and then vanished. We shrugged our shoulders and had a look around the place - then noticed he had returned - wearing a surgical face mask. He clearly didn't want to expose himself to our Western germs, which is fair enough. He probably heard me coughing on my way in.

    We spent a good 15 minutes wondering around with our cups, gradually getting more merry. My personal favourite was the local brew - Echigo. We eventually staggered out and headed for the local Yakitori (the tables have a built in barbecue where you cook your own meat and veg) which is just down the street on the left, just past the 7-11. The great sake was followed by barbecue steak in honey and soy sauce, I'd recommend it most highly.

    Related to:
    • Wine Tasting
    • Food and Dining
    • Museum Visits

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