Japan: Karuizawa 輕井沢 & Nagano 長野

For the long weekend, I took a small trip with my parents to Japan. M sadly stayed at home to study…

The flight from HK to Tokyo was 4 hours long and by the time we reached our hotel in Tokyo it was already 11pm, so we went to eat delicious ramen at Ichiran. This chain store just opened up in HK and its queues are up to 3 hours long. Delicious stuff but I would never queue for so long! I do find it strange the one has to eat in a private single person booth, but Japan is always a bit innovative in these matters.

Here is a stock photo of the restaurant since I took photos of the restaurant on my mum’s phone.


The next day we took the bullet train to Kirizawa which was an hour away. Transport is very expensive in Japan, we bought the JR East pass at the airport terminal (unlimited 5 days travel in the Eastern side of Japan’s main island) for ¥22000 each. Considering it was ¥3500  from Narita Airport to Tokyo, and ¥8000 from Tokyo to Kirazawa , it made sense to pay for the pass.

So we checked in to the Kirazawa Prince Hotel, walked around the old part of town which has since been turned into a souvenir street and returned to the hotel to soak in the hot spring. (Since we were in a hot spring town and it was chilly)

The bullet train:


Kirazawa: It’s a ski resort in the winter so it is quite chilly in the fall. This picturesque area is taken at the outlet mall right in front of the train station.


The next day we went to Nagano; the place where they hosted the 1998 winter Olympics. It is also home to the Zenko-Ji Temple which is big and old. It is also famous for a statue which is only shown to the public once every 7 years, naturally we did not arrive at such a fortuitous time.

Zenko-Ji Temple:



There was not a whole lot to do in Nagano since it wasn’t ski season, and I was wearing crappy shoes so we went back to the hotel to indulge in more naked hot spring action. (hot springs in Japan are single sex and nudity required). We indulged in a lot of hot spring time since there was no English/ Chinese TV channels or wifi internet. In fact, both the hotels we stayed at only offered in room free LAN internet. My laptop doesn’t have a LAN jack… For such a developed country they have a very underdeveloped internet service.

On our departure date after several more rounds of hot springing, we took the bullet back to Tokyo early so we could go look for cooking and grocery items for my mum. We picked up lots of delicious Hokkaido fruits and ate a lot. Maybe a Hokkaido road trip next time with M when we have our piggy banks fed.

Cute Japanese sandwiches, all cut into bite size form:


Candy making at a department store:


Japanese produce is very expensive (100 yen= 1 Cad), vegetables are a luxury item (except for seaweed):


Japan designated smoking spot, no one disobeys where to smoke even though the designated spots are 100’s of meters apart from each other.


So after 3.5 days of sitting in a hot spring and mad eating (especially ice cream) we took the plane back home. Good timing too as a typhoon was approaching.

Side note: I have been to Japan lots but I always find it funny that the Japanese people are so law abiding. Sometimes it gets annoying though, like when I am told I have to eat my food at a designated spot and where to dispose of my toothpick after eating some samples. But I do love Japan.

Travel Tip: one can buy the JR East pass at the Narita airport but expect long queues at night as there is only one service counter. Also counter closes at 945pm. The full JR pass has to be bought outside Japan.


Hong Kong. Travel. Climb. In that order.

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