But I assume that it's in these not so popular areas are where the true gems are hidden.
It's something about that empty tiny little station and the deafening silence haunting it. No train staff, no hustle and bustle. Just two empty cars. Trains run through every hour on the hour and only have two carriages. Sakihana Station.
Snow was too high. Made it impossible for me to come any closer. About waist deep, no kidding! It snows like this well into March in these parts. Southeastern Niigata to be exact. A place that's considered a true cultural treasure by people who know Japan. It could be the Jomon period artifacts, or the amazing peonies that grow when in season that cover this whole mountainous region in spring. It could be the legendary water Niigata is so very famous for, which reflects in its world-class saké that's produced here and sold all over the world. It could be the annual world-class flower festivals which can easily rival any in the Western world. Or those amazing fireworks shows held throughout the summer which are said to be the best in Japan! I believe all of these things, and then some. But I was there for the essentials.
Taxis in this area run about 390 yen for the first 750 meters, and then 660 yen for 1.5 kilometers onward. Not too bad considering what I pay in Tokyo. 790 yen just to get in the taxi.... I walked most of the way to my hotel. I saw this body of water and had to stop over. This is the sight where the summer fireworks shows are held and from what the locals tell me, it's spectacular, and that nothing can rival it in Japan.
The neat thing about choosing this hotel was because of the train tracks and the relative closeness to the nearest station. In a previous post I selected onsen based off of the sommelier rating here. This time around I wanted to focus mainly on a particular kind of scenery. Trains And snow And onsen. Yes. I was able to enjoy sitting in a hot spring surrounded by snow clad trees and white all around while the local train sped by kicking up powdery snow with its headlights lit up. NHK moment for sure. And I wasn't able to snap that photo for a lot of technical reasons. Here's another onsen located near the tracks.
The red bridge was what I had to cross to get to the entrance. Often times, as a courtesy some hotels will write your name on a large placard outside. It was nice seeing this. They were expecting me.
I was greeted warmly and cordially. The gentleman handed me slippers and showed me to the front desk to get checked-in. After everything was settle he showed me to my room, where he sat me down and prepared a hot cup of tea in my room. He spoke to me with such warm conviviality in his somewhat fluent English. I indulged him by continuing the conversation in English. A rarity I might add. I always try to keep the language consistent with what the locals speak. Japanese.
The video clip below is four minutes and it's me talking and entering the spa.
Once I finished bathing I returned to my room, drank more and waited for the knock on my door for dinner; it was being served in my room. Dinner came.