It is Golden Week, which means many people have several days off in a row. It is probably the only time the Japanese take many days off in a row during the year.
This means that EVERYBODY is on the road...and I mean everybody!
We took a two day tour to Nagano and Toyama. Our tour group met in Umeda at 7:30 a.m., the bus was filled with some families, couples and some travelling alone.
After making sure that everyone was on board, we headed towards Nagano.
Unfortunately, since everyone was on the roads, what would normally take 5 hours, took us 10.
Lunch was originally planned at a soba shop in Nagano, but had to be cancelled because of the traffic. (You should know that Nagano is known for their soba)
So instead, lunch was at a parking area along the highway we purchased some takomeshi (octopus rice), ika yaki (grilled squid) and tenmusu (tempura musubi).
I was surprised how much octopus was actually in the rice! The grilled squid was quite tender and the tenmusu had way too much batter on it.
The parking areas along the highway have hot foods too, but since we were on a schedule, we didn't have a chance to sit and relax.
To make matters worse, whenever you go anywhere in Japan, as it is in many other countries, the line to the women's restroom is almost always very long. (Older Japanese women are known to invade the men's bathroom whenever they see that it isn't too busy, watch out guys!)
Many times, when we made a pit stop somewhere, we only had a couple of minutes...To eat or go to the bathroom, that was the question. For me, even though I was still hungry, the bathroom almost always won...
Travelling on a bus with many people, you can't just ask them to pull over...though at one point, the traffic was so bad, they did and the men and little kids jumped off to pee alongside the bus...eep!
By the time we arrived in Azumino, Nagano, it was 5-ish.
We had originally planned to see a wasabi farm in the area, but that was nixed because of the time and we ended up only going to an art museum.
The Chihiro Museum is dedicated to an artist named Chihiro Iwasaki. She is famous for her watercolor paintings of children.
It was a nice museum, though I wish we could've been able to visit the wasabi farm too.
From Azumino, we travelled another two hours to our hotel in Hakuba, which is also in Nagano, called the Hotel Green Plaza Hakuba.
The outside of this hotel looked like what I would imagine chalets or ski lodges in Switzerland would look like.
Dinner was a buffet, but by then, I was already feeling bus-sick, so only ate a little.
All in all, it was a long day and the next day, the highlight of the trip, would be even longer...stay tuned.
3358-24 Nishihara, Matsukawa-mura
Hotel Green Plaza Hakuba
Otari-mura, Kitaazumigun, Nagano
It is Friday here, and we are off to visit MIL, hope you have a great weekend!