We stayed at Shiroganeya 白銀屋 in Shibu, Yudanaka. This was a smaller ryokan establishment in the area 😀 Let’s take a peep together?
What do they do when there’s no snow? Journalists are obsessed with their snowed up look. Without the snow, they do look less funny 😛 but hey, they are cute with or without the snow. Snow monkey is uniquely Japanese. They NATURALLY go for onsen baths in winter. This is their way to keep warm, well, and to get a red flush of colour for their faces.
Shibu onsen is a ‘suburb’ within the mega onsen town, Yudanaka. Yudanaka is famed for its bath loving snow monkeys and natural hot springs. The peak season is winter. As I am a value seeking tourist, I went in the off peak season of course 😛
Stark with moat and a red bridge. This is the Matsumoto-jo, also known as the crow castle. Coincidently, tons of big (fat) crows can be spotted in the vicinity. The dark colour comes from a combination of wood and stone. Matsumoto castle is an original keep from 1500s! It is only damaged by earthquake and neglect (was tilting like Pisa), but it is all good now. It is listed as a national treasure of Japan. Madness to think that at some stage the Japanese considered demolition. There are only 12 original castles in Japan:
Easily overseen by tourists. This quiet town has a fabulously scenic walk and has lot of hikes to offer – e.g. Alps Azumino, Mount Hikarujo etc. Whether you choose to visit Hotaka shrine, onsen, wasabi farm or just walking around the town, there is NO CROWD. Peace at last!!
At this farm, wasabi plant get bathed in Hotaka alps fresh water 24/7 and their very own sun shades. How’s that for a life, huh? Hotaka 穂高 (Azumino city 安曇野市), 30min train ride from Matsumoto. This small town is a hidden gem. Mainly farms and well maintained hikes. Nature is all over here. Their main attraction here is undoubtedly the Daio Wasabi Farm 大王わさび農場. This is one of the largest wasabi farm in Japan.