Once we wrapped up at Kanazawa we started our 4 hour trip to Nozawa Onsen. By this time we had figured out how to get the GPS to take us on toll roads and so a quicker trip.
Heading along the toll roads meant that the thing for me and the girls became Vending Machines. We would stop when we can to check out the crazy things we could buy. The hot chips went down well as did the many different types of hot drinks. Molly recalled the very funny Hamish and Andy skit when they discovered that hot chips could be obtained from a vending machine. They would ponder how the vending machine would handle the hot oil but in the end our view was they were microwaved.
Our real achievement was deciphering the machine below to purchase our meal tickets for lunch…
The drive from Kanazawa to Nozawa Onsen was nothing but spectacular. Driving through farmlands the mountain range – Japanese Alps – just appeared in front of us – rising up from nowhere. Once we hit the range we drove along the coast for a while going through roads that were built over the ocean and through 3 to 5km long tunnels that just carved up the landscape. A hard cry from the winding road up to Falls Creek back in Australia.
Mid afternoon we turned a corner and BANG – Nozawa Onsen.
Nozawa Onsen is famous for powder snow in amongst tree lined slopes. Nozawa Onsen itself is a traditional Japanese Village which is one of the reasons we chose it as it covered skiing plus the village experience in one.
The village has about a dozen Onsens which are hot springs setup as bathing houses. After a hard days skiing bathing in the Onsen is truly relaxing if you can stand the heat as water is between 45 to 48 Degree Celsius in the ones set up for bathing. I enjoyed the experience but the girls found it too hot to get in.
Even still the Onsen’s are where we are meant to bath – you take your shampoo and soap down with you to the Onsen. Boys and Girls are separated. You strip down naked and sit on the side and lather up. There are buckets to scoop out water and rinse yourself. Once clean you then ease yourself in and relax (as best you can).
Our lodge – Villa Nozawa – is based on the Ryokan setup and so once again we are in a large room with futon’s on the floor and a simple setup with wash basin and toilet. As mentioned the bath is the Onsen just down the road. The staff are outstanding. They gave us a great orientation to settle in and we could get both hire skis / gear and instructors through the lodge – all at good prices or prices comparable to Australia.
There were a number of arrivals on the Monday and so the lodge put drinks on in the evening so we could get to know each other. Even though I had way too much of the local Sake the evening was great and meant we would run into people we new on the mountain.
We spent the evening settling in and took a walk around the village…as we expected to be too sore the next day…remembering our Land Cruiser days we came across this vehicle – this is one serious modification that I would love to have in the mud…