Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I've been wanting to visit the Jigokudani park since I first saw photos like this one in travel brochures. A very touristy move, to be sure, but so what, we're tourists! And the kids loved it. Conor had caught a bug so it was just Dylan and I with the Kircher family, who traveled from Singapore to do some skiing with us here in Japan, and this was our Sunday afternoon field trip.
We lucked out with the mild, sunny weather, though you could say it was a little too warm -- the forest path was muddy and slushy going in. But it was a beautiful walk, and I think everybody agreed it was worth it watching the macaques soak in the hot springs bath, muck about in the hillside scrub and generally ham it up (or stare stolidly as portraits were taken). One young monkey snatched a stick out of my friend's son's hand and ran off with it. Cheeky!
Jen getting her shot
4 Kirchers and 1 Buechner, poolside
Dylan snapping a few with my camera. I think he took this one:
and this one:
Hanging out with the babes by the rocks
We booked this little excursion through IXSM. Their website looks and behaves like something out of last century (late 90s, say) but it does the job. The 15-or-so passenger van picked us up at the Nozawa's Chuo bus terminal (an unfussy parking lot outside a convenient store near the center of town) and drove 50 minutes to the entrance to the park. From there you walk 1.6 km along a well traveled path that cuts through forest and contains some lovely wildlife (according to signs posted on trees telling us what to watch for -- we were probably too loud and scared all the birds away). Some steeps steps at the beginning but mainly flat. I'd say you need to be reasonably fit to get there. Unfortunately for my friends, the route is not stroller friendly! So they took turns carrying their 3-year-old daughter. We were told the walk would take 25 minutes, and it took us 40. Not bad for our group, I'd say.
Dylan heading back
Jen and Elizabeth at the entrance
We had to pry the boys away from this thing, which they discovered just as we were arriving at the site ("Come on, the monkeys are this way!")
Excitement on the trail
tel: +(81 50) 5539 7704 (Dec-Mar) | fax: 050 7522 7112 | skype: ixsmtravel.nozawa
9784-1 Yokochi, Toyosato, Nozawa Onsen, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano 389-2502 Japan