( Nervous anticipation for my snow trip up north. My train)
If you miss a Japan winter what a real pity as this is an excellent year for some of the heaviest snowfall on record. This year, the snow came unseasonably early and fell hard then stopped in some parts of Hokuriku and Tohoku. Last year the snowfall was nowhere near as heavy as it was this year though, and I made it just in time. Northern Gunma prefecture is a fail safe part of Japan that always snows every single year without fail and on time. By the time I post this entry the heaviest snowfall will have probably finished. From now on, expect light snowfall from this time until March, if any at all. The brunt of winter is over.
I did good for myself on this recent trip. I completely narrowed down the three most important things of my trip: onsen, food, and sake. This was another solo trip where I had to literally brave through cold and snow near the Oigami, Tonemachi Interchange on foot for 2km; buses don’t run here.
Trudging through the snow I saw the sign! Oigami Onsen. 500 meters to go and both my hands were becoming numb from the bitter coldness of having to tote a big camera bag and a duffle bag without any gloves on for two km through ankle deep patches of snow and ice. I even got pelted a few times across the face by chunks of snow.
I don’t even know where to begin, or how to properly start this blog entry. There is so much I want to blog about. As I type this entry I am packing up readying my return home to Yokohama.
In summary, I stayed for two nights in Oigami in Northern Gunma in a very nice onsen hotel called the Sunraku, which offered me a a large twin with a nice view, breakfast and dinner buffets; dinner had an all-you-can-drink sake/beer bar at no additional charge! I must’ve refilled on hot sake and beer about five or six times. I was literally carrying trays of beers and hot sake back to my own table which was situated by a very large window with a spectacular view of Tonemachi River and huge snow clad pines.
The room was 6800 yen; dinner/buffet included.
The buffet was great. Mounds of delicious and juicy chicken karaage(fried chicken) were on the table, along with tempura and soba. They even had sirloin tips and mini burgers covered in onions soaked in demigras(sp?). The whole spread was heaven.
From start to finish the whole trip was nice. Even the train ride up was nice. Check in went smoothly, my room was great. Of course before I get situated I always take a nice dip in an onsen before dinner.
Onsen paradise. I took dozens of pictures which I’ll post up on another post. On a final note, I never know why people only stay for one night….I always book for two nights. You really need time to unwind and really soak in the water and the atmosphere.