Life in the big city blues can easily be offset with a motorcycle and nearby mountains. Nagano is only a couple hours away (+ a few more if you drive the speed limit). But if you get off the expressway about halfway there, you can check out some really amazing roads.
Make sure you fill up your tank and your gut. Chili cheese dog at the Kamisato expressway stop. Was it rad? Yes, yes it was.
The fuck? Ok, so I got off in Karuizawa, which is a sort of rich people mecca in the woods. Tons of western style mountain cottages and what not. But head north, and you can take route 292 over the mountains to Shiga Kogen, and on to Nagano. The road passes tons of neat stuff, like hot springs, volcanos, and emerald green lakes. All of which couldn't be seen due to the fog.
The fuck? Oh yeah, there was snow on the ground. It's the end of June. Dress accordingly. I didn't.
Despite the semi crappy weather, this ride was amazing. If the weather was perfect, this could rank as one of the best roads in this part of Japan.
After your descent on the other side, you can check out the wild monkey onsen. I went there a long time ago, so I didn't bother this time around. Instead I went to Shibu-Onsen for a bath. Funny story, right in front of this sign, some people asked me where the monkey onsen was. Like literally right here. Glad I could help you guys out!
Cool little onsen town. If you stay at a local inn, you can wear a yukata and get a key and can visit any of the 10 or so public bath houses.
There is even a stamp rally, as this kindly lady showed me.
But I wasn't a guest, so I couldn't get in. Just down the road, though, at Yudanaka station is an onsen... in the station!
The highlight... a bath with about 200 roses floating in it. I didn't take any photos, cause I was naked, and there were like 20 little kids, and I don't want to go to jail.
After a depressing late night Korea World Cup match, headed to nearby Obuse the next day. What's in Obuse?
My favorite sake brewery, Masuichi.
The Hekiken is my favorite sake in Japan. The blue bottle is strikingly beautiful.
But the Hakkin, served from a beautiful metal bottle, is amazing (and expensive) as well.
Then we had ice cream. Nothings better than some tasty scoops with your boys! Ice cream kiss!
When I drove back, it was like driving underwater. Rainy season in Japan is a dick like that.