As part of our tour in Japan, we travelled to Nagano Prefecture to visit the traditional hot-spring town of Shibu Onsen. The historic section of this town features picturesque narrow streets, a series of nine public hot-spring baths (onsen) and traditional inns (ryokan), some of which date back 400 years. The town is located in the mountains, so there was snow and the weather was chilly!
When we arrived in mid-afternoon, it was too early to check-in at our ryokan (the friendly Sakaeya Inn), so we left our bags and wandered the town, marvelling at all the architectural and cultural details.
And when we did return to find our rooms, I set down my bags and immediately lay down on the tatami mat and had a much-needed nap before supper. Supper was a traditional Japanese meal – featuring lots of little tasting dishes and local specialities – see more about food in my previous post.
During supper, the futon was set up for sleep, but before I laid my head on the buckwheat pillow, I went for a walk and did some shopping. Evening is when all the stores and bars are open, and guests of the different ryokan wander the streets wearing traditional yukata as they visit the onsen. I admit I didn’t try the onsen experience. First of all, I was reticent to spend time with strangers wearing only my birthday suit (no clothing allowed). Also I had been told that the water is extremely hot which I didn’t think I could bear.
However, I did manage to take a whole lot of photographs, which is the experience I had signed up for, and I really enjoyed my stay. And I found the futon and buckwheat pillow combo to be very comfortable!
I took more than 900 photos on this day, so it has taken me quite a while to sort through them – that is why this post is so late! So I hope you enjoy this photo gallery. My next post will be about our adventure the following day to see the snow monkeys!