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August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, ...

Echigo Yuzawa in the Summer


So I get a text from one of my female friends up there and she asks " when are you coming back up here?"   So, I popped open my calendar and Wednesday was open, all day.   I had no work.   I replied and told her Wednesday next week.    She said what a shame because she had to go to Nagaoka, the next major train hub on the Joestsu Line, on that day on family business, and that weekends would've been better for her.  

The reason for me telling you this is because, even if things do not work out sometimes, especially with other peoples schedules, I never change my course of action.    I could've stayed down in Yokohama after she replied with that note, but you know, I have had other similar cancellations in the past for similar reasons.   People work on weekdays.    Only the elderly and retired take onsen jaunts on weekdays, not working men.   For me, this is by design as I try to avoid the crowds.   Weekends are just too crowded and expensive.   So I went anyway.  

I think you should look at it both ways.   Firstly, this is Echigo Yuzawa, a place written about in books and magazines, a place with an abundance of natural beauty.  A place with its own charm.   And sure, it could probably be enjoyed with companionship, by all means.... , but it is not the only way to enjoy traveling.    A wonderful experience is not necessarily hinged on the need to be with someone, nor to talk that experience away.   I like solo travel, too.   I tend to focus much more on the surroundings, the sights, and the sounds.  I focus on what's around me more.    So I instead of canceling I booked a hotel up at the Sakura Tei


I typically like visiting this part of Japan in the winter because I had felt it was more beautiful than any other season.   I was wrong.   Summer is just as beautiful.   The original images are sharper than what's here, but you get the point.

On the way up, did my usual.   I started off with a beer breakfast from Tokyo Station; three tall ones and a bento box ( lunch box).   After my arrival, I stopped through Kijimaya, my favorite hegisoba shob for the usual sake and noodle worship.

video


The hegisoba, which I wrote about here on my winter series of Koide.    You can sort of compare the two seasons.    At any rate,  I finished up and looked around the newly renovated Ponshukan, which is the sake & souvenir center also located in the station.    It had undergone renovation for 3 months, I think.   They completed moved everything around and made the place look even nicer than before.
Here the iPhone is a bit shaky because I am walking and talking.    For 500 yen, you'll receive five tokens and a sake cup that you can use to sample sake.   In the video you'll see this.   Plus, there's a little history about sake in this region and how its made.    Afterwards, I headed over to the visitor's center and grabbed a map and then headed over to the ropeway, but before that I chatted it up with a few ladies who were from Tokyo.


The Echigo Yuzawa Ropeway is about 1500 yen roundtrip, and with some commanding views.

At the Yuzawa Kogen Ropeway center you can enjoy coffee and video games.   It's got a restaurant and tons of free brochures with maps.

The ride up is scenic with some amazing views of the entire valley.    When Autumns in full swing I think it'll look nice.    All seasons it looks wonderful up here.




The temps.  were perfect up here.   Cool winds, a little balmy, perfect weather for growing delicious rice and whole grains and vegetables; some of the best.    I couldn't of chosen a better day to come up here again.   I am sure glad I didn't allow myself to sit at home, happy I kept my plan.

Once the car got to the top, I walked  round for a bit.   I have never been that much into flowers, but I do have to admit, the alpine flowers were absolutely gorgeous.   I saw so many cosmos varietals it was like I was in a dream world.     Saw a quite a few elderly couples out and about.  I can see how a place like this could evoke some passions.


I shot these in Raw but had to convert them to JPG in order to get them onto blogger, so that's why I lost some of the sharpness.    I didn't want to have to reduce the tiffs.    The originals are much better!




At the top of this 1000 meter plateau is something for everybody.   I was surprised to see a jungle gym
I can see the Japanese mom in the wood housing at the top.   Looks like a great place for families, couples, and the elderly.   I can just imagine in the winter the mountain in the back packed on with white powdery snow.      I played around a bit with a cross filter.


After walking around a bit, I worked up another appetite, but this time for something a little European.   Brick oven pizza and wine.   Here's a short snippet of the approach.

Watch as I ascend up the hill in a field full of cosmos and off to the left is this gorgeous Alpine Villa.  The video clip was shot using an iPhone elongated to narrow your DOF and center your focus on the main point,  panorama is sometimes used.


I took this picture because napoli is my favorite kind of pizza and I love Italian olive oil.   After finishing a bottle of red from Tuscana, I headed over to the foot bath hot spa to take in my last views before check-in.

Lunch with god in the cosmos was great!



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