Nagano Part 1

On the last day of 2010 I went over the border to The frozen mountainous wild lands of Nagano. Apart from the briefest of visits to the Karuizawa town limits when I drove Usui, It is a prefecture that I had never been to, never wanted to go to and for that matter never really knew anything about apart from the fact that it was cold, covered in snow and had monkeys that bathed in hot springs. It took on a different meaning when I started dating my lady, since it is where she hails from. Over the months we have been together, Her little siblings had grown to know and show fondness for me so We decided it was time that I got around to meeting them. So I boarded a Shinkansen (bullet train) and took the (rather short) trip into the unknown.
P1110620 Hit the jump to

The scenery between Takasaki and Karuizawa has some of the most beautiful and exquisite mountains in all of Gunma… All of which were tunneled through in the name of high speed efficiency. Essentially I saw the Takasaki cityscape… tunnel… tunnel… tunnel… SNOW! and then I was in Nagano. In an effort to save money, I got off at Karuizawa and was picked up her oldest brother. He and I are cut of the same cloth which meant we were both FREEZING COLD! It was around –5 degrees (No Agnus, this is NOT Finland, and I am not in any way remotely aware of Finnish weather so –5 IS COLD!)
If Gunma is mountainous, Nagano is Afghanistan. Actually it looks a lot like the beautiful pics of the Mountains in Afghanistan that I have seen. The drive to Chikuma City (Their hometown) was good. But the fun was yet to begin.
P1110635 The siblings are a riot. Like my lady, they need some coaxing to get out of their shells but once freed, they are buckets of fun. Admittedly this was a small dose of their full power as 3 members were missing. No worries, they conspired to take me around their city and show me a good time. And I was more than happy to let them.
First stop was a shrine (I don’t remember the name) and it served as a bit of a get to know you for me. seeing what’s what, who’s who and so on. Coins were thrown in boxes, bells were rung and hands were clapped.
Next was a trip up into the mountains. I love Haruna… and Gunma roads are as awesome as they are famous, but I will DEFINATELY go back in warmer times with the Genki Zenki and put some carbon dioxide into the crisp mountain air. The corners were good, their camber was nice and they promise to be a blast. This trip however was about sightseeing. There were many sights to be seen!
P1110665 P1110657
A lot of snow too (well for me anyway… any amount of snow that would render my car unusable is a lot of snow) Back down the mountain on one of the lesser traveled touge was a nerve testing experience. I loved the view and drive but the horrifically high seating position and wobbly suspension tricked me into thinking we would fall off the side of the mountain once or twice. the raised heart rate did add to the thrills though so I have no complaints.
The next stop was Africa. Not quite. But a mockup of an old school Japanese village, and I mean OLD. Back in the Jomon period type old. Thatch Rondavels with mud floors and fire pits. Needless to say. There were no automatic robo toilets back then. P1110730 There was also a frozen pond which had some massive Carp in it. They were moving at a very slow pace due to the cold. It had the effect of making them look like cruising badasses. They actually looked pretty mean. Like the tattoos, or the embroidery on my pants.

No comments: