The jet lag is definitely getting better. We didn’t wake up until 3 am this morning, a marked improvement over yesterday. We spent the morning working out and then packing up our stuff to head to Nagano for a few days in the mountains and hopefully cooler weather. Tokyo has been stiflingly hot and humid, which has made us very glad we brought dri-fit everything, so we are definitely looking forward to a reprieve.
Using our JR Rail Passes we picked up a few days ago, we hopped on a bullet train to Nagano without too much hassle. Upon arriving in Nagano we headed straight to our ryokan to drop our extra bags off and then headed out to find lunch. Fortunately a festival of sorts was under way which allowed us to get a yummy Japanese snack, takoyaki, in preparation for the long walk we intended to have. We had it in our hearts to find okonomiyaki for lunch and that is exactly what we did. We walked 55 minutes (one way) to Donton Bori where we had a very nice gentleman help us make bacon okonomiyaki, which was a good thing because we both agree that it would have been raw without his help.
After okonomiyaki we headed back to the city and got to catch half of an inning of girls softball. It turns out that chopping is popular in Japan as well. We reached our ryokan a little after 4 pm and got introduced to our new home for the next 3 days. Ryokans are new to us both so we had to do some internet searching to make sure that we weren’t offending anyone by doing something inappropriate. Turns out, it’s pretty straightforward. The only thing new to us was that the left side of your kimono has to go over the right side. Why? We don’t know but we are set on following the rules.
We rested and unpacked for a while then headed out to find dinner. It turns out that the town closes up around 6 pm so there weren’t too many options. We did find soba, which it seems is traditionally served cold and bland, but it was paired with fried rainbow trout that was delicious. We also found a parade of sorts which consisted of about 10 men in kimonos pushing a drum cart and carrying a lion’s head. They were invited into our restaurant to perform a lion dance which delighted the young boys who were also there. All of the restaurant patrons also got bit on the head by the lion as a parting gift, including us to the enjoyment of the owners. We are hoping that it is a sign of good fortune and not a sign of times to come (no lion head bites please!).
Daily Walking Mileage: 12
Fun Facts of the Day:
- We were the only white people we saw all day, and in fact someone stopped us to take a picture…of just us…with their camera.
- Japanese people are very impressed with mediocre street performers blaring Aqua’s 1998 hit Tarzan & Jane.
- It has been almost 20 years since the Nagano Olympics, we feel very old.