Japan (Part 3/3) 1 2 3

Shibu and Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani Onsen

From Fuji we traveled (via a stop-over in Tokyo) to Nagano, from were we took a local train to Shibu. This is a tiny town known for its onsens (hot springs). What's interesting about these onsens is that in order to use them, you need to stay in one of the local ryokans (like the Shibu Hotel we stayed in). Upon checking in, you are given keys which open the baths. To use them, you just go for a walk through town in the hotel provided kimono and sandals and use the onsens at your leisure. Quite interesting! By the way, these onsens are H-O-T! I actually don't understand how the locals tolerate them. Being from Slovakia and all, I am used to thermal hot springs but this town is ridiculous. I think you can bring some eggs along and prepare your breakfast while you soak.

At Shibu, a small town famous for its thermal baths
Ready to hit the town!
Exploring Shibu. We found an excellent sushi restaurant where we got to try fresh wasabi.
The town at night
Another interesting thing here is a sake museum. It's actually a small house with a bar full of different sakes you just pour yourself as you like. There was no bartender or really anyone around.
The typical traditional Japanese morning spread at our ryokan. It comes with various pickled fruits, rice, and raw eggs.
And we are finally on our way to see the monkeys! This was the highlight of my trip.
It's so green here. Writing this from Southern California after a particularly dry winter, I really miss seeing all this greenery.
We started seeing the monkeys even before we got to the hot spring
They were everywhere
This area gets a lot of snow in the winter and these monkeys are famous for chilling in the hot spring with snow the surroundings.
But clearly, it being July, there was no snow
I actually didn't know what to expect here. I didn't know if this is an onsen for people and the monkeys just jump in when it is empty
Instead the hot spring is solely used by the monkeys. They are actually very territorial and there is always some senior monkey keeping guard and preventing outcasts from getting in.
Monkey family with a baby monkey
Sandra taking a selfie before the monkey freaked out seeing itself on the screen

Nagano

The trip was shortly coming to an end, with only one destination remaining: Tokyo. But since we had to change trains in Nagano, we took the opportunity to do a quick city visit and headed to the Zenko-Ji temple.

Zenko-ji temple in Nagano
More photos from the Nagano Zenko-Ji temple

Tokyo

We finished the trip with two nights in Tokyo. We each had a free night with Hyatt thanks to their credit card. The first night we stayed in Hyatt Regency, and the second night we got to stay in the near by Park Hyatt.

View from our hotel in Hyatt Regence. The tall building is where Park Hyatt is located.
Visiting a cat cafe
Street scenes in Tokyo
There are also many nice parks
We also found this amazing donut shop
One of the peculiar attractions of Tokyo is the Robot Restaurant. It's - interesting.
Ready to go out! Checking out the New York bar on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt.
View from our room in the Park Hyatt. Also near by buildings and the view of the hotel from outside.
Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace which is not open to public
The packed Senso-Ji temple
Enjoying excellent pizza while some street musician passed by
Another delicious dinner, this time in the Hyatt Regency two Michelin star Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros restaurant

We flew back with Air Canada (in coach) with an overnight layover in Toronto. I actually don't have any pictures from Canada as we really didn't get to do much besides grabbing dinner and getting some Tim Horton's. The most memorable part of the trip back was getting served the 10-cent Cup (O') Noodles ramen on the flight from Tokyo. That seemed somewhat too cheap, even for coach.

Home sweet home!
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