Snow Season Winding Down
Its been a busy but fun extended weekend. On Friday Ryan, a loyal reader who refuses to admit to experiencing withdrawl symptoms when I don't post, and his family came out to visit, and we were joined on Saturday by a potential helper for the summer visiting from Virginia. Family consists of wife, five-month-old Monika, whose name just happens to share the same character for "mo" as Mona (萌 - meaning "to bud"), and grandma and grandpa visiting from Canada. I think they were here expecting a little more hiking than I had prepared for, but I think it all worked out well considering it was Monika's first hike.
In addition to a couple short day-hikes with kanjiki snowshoes, and a hot bath in the cold river, everyone seemed to enjoy the local not-so-traditional snow festival. While there was taiko drumming by the local girls (an award winning drumming group), and a nice foot bath, I say "not-so-traditional", because of the kindergarteners doing a pon-pon routine to Avriel Levine's "I Don't Like Your Girlfriend", and the masked WWF style profesional wrestlers competing against people in teddy-bear costumes.
On Sunday, we joined a three-hour walk through our village together with the locals from my hamlet - an event organized to get people out and moving after a long winter, in preparation for the upcoming farm season. We arrived at the hot-spring for a big lunch and "pass-the-babies-around so the local's can coo at them" party followed by out-door bath and rolling in the snow. naked. It doesn't get any better than that.
The day after Ryan's family left, I took our potential "intern" to Jigokudani Monkey park, were I was lucky enough to bump into a family from the Yokosuka base that needed a bit of guidance. Luckily, I am a guide! If you are reading this, I really hope you can get a group of guys together. I am itching for a challenging ride/hike with people that will leave me in the dust!
Yudanaka and the Monkey park are two hours away from my house, but it just so happened that the inn we randomly picked, is run by a former teacher from our local grade-school, who actually tought a few of my friends from the village many years ago, so we had a lot to talk about, and I have found a new favorite inn in the area to take customers too. Very nice people, and it is one of the most affordable inns in the area, yet is still very beautiful. I am Kevin Cameron, and I officially endorse Matsuya Ryokan if you are visiting Yudanaka, Shibu Onsen, or the famous Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani