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A Japan winter in Nagano, Gunma and Tokyo
08 to 10 Jan 2011   Exploring the famous temples and local food of Nagano 長野

08 Jan 2011 - Singapore to Nagano 長野

Took the overnight flight ( NH0902  SIN-NRT )
- SIN   08 Jan 2011 00:55
- NRT  08 Jan 2011 08:35

Upon arrival at Narita airport, we takkyubin our larger luggages to Shiga Kogen. A very useful service for door to door delivery, especially in winter when it is difficult to handle large luggages. This makes travelling on the local trains and bus a lot more comfortable with only our smaller luggage. Cost about ¥1380 each for a 26" hardcase luggage.
Bought a 4 day JR East flexible pass for ¥20000 each. We had to take at least 3 Shinkansen rides for this trip, so this is a definte savings.

Caught the Narita Express (NEX 0945 -1048 hrs) to Tokyo Station 
This gave us about 20 mins to explore the Tokyo Station Grandsta food mart within the station. Bought our bento sets for lunch on board the Shinkansen to Nagano.

JR Nagano Shinkansen (ASAMA 519 1124hrs -> 1251hrs) from Tokyo to Nagano (东京駅 -> 长野駅)

Lunch on-board the Shinkansen

Matsuya Ryokan  松屋旅館
From JR Nagano Station, its a 10 min bus ride and a 10 mins walk to the Ryokan. The ryokan is right along the stone pathway leading to the Zenko-ji temple, probably just 2 mins away from the temple. The ryokan was previously part of the temple premises with a Jizo statue at its front door.  Nice authentic family-run ryokan.

Zenkoji  善光寺
After a tea break, we explored the Zenkoji Temple .
Participated in the ceremory where the temple's head monk would give blessing by pressing 2 wooden blocks 御印文 on your head.

Turning the sutra wheel ...

Dinner at the ryokan was wonderful.
Of special mention are the rice and miso which were so fantastically pure and flavourful. It was amazing how something so simple and staple can be so delicious. Nagano is also famous for apples, and thus all the apple flavoured dishes too.

After a hot onsen and a big dinner, everyone was tired from the day's travelling and crashed after dinner.

9 Jan 2011 - Exploring Nagano

七福神巡り - The Seven God of Fortune Trip
The journey to seek out the 7 shrines around the nagano streets housing the 7 fortune gods.
At each shrine, you collect an ink stamp. Visit all 7 shrines and you will have good fortune !! YES !

1. The God of Longevity

2. The God of Good Luck and Agriculture

3. The God of Good Luck, Rank and Agriculture

4. The Goddess of Music and Knowledge

5.The God of Wealth

6. The God of Wealth, Safety, Agriculture and Lucky Charms

7. The God of Victory


You should hear the little boy's "wow" when his mum told him we are from singapore.
Sounded as if he met aliens. Guess they don't get much of us there.

The famous miso shop ... besides shopping for everything miso, we also had miso ice cream 

Looking for the famous Nagano Soba was difficult as there are so many shops and we only had 1 meal to try the best of them all.
In the end, took the recommendation from the ryokan owner and end up in this lovely small soba shop. The soba really tasted as good as they say on the brochures !!

Sock's tororo ( grated yam dip ) Soba and Dad's cold Soba and tempura rice set

The other famous / common street food in Nagano are
- Oyaki - basically a hot steamed bun filled with miso veg or daikon or red bean or kinoko mushroom
- Amazake - hot sweet sake
- stumbled upon Mona-musu -  a new nagano fast food with is a grilled crispy biscuit waffle shell, filled with rice and seaweed.

A local sake brewery / shop

10 Jan 2011 - Goodbye Nagano
Nagano was cold but not snowing when we arrived. The scene totally changed by the time we left.

The Ryokan presented us with 2 large nagano apples as a gift ... how nice :>