Day 3: Nagano

More adventures! I woke up at 6am jst, I guess because of my 10pm bed time. I feel like I’m about un-jet-lagged already. I took the opportunity to check my email and add a little to yesterday’s entry, then called Shintaro to see if he could join me in Nagano since he also has the rail pass that would allow him to take the limited express from Yokohama and the bullet train to Nagano, but hes sick and couldn’t come. I decided to make my way to Nagano, and checked out. When I went to buy my ticket at the JR office, the attendant didn’t speak any English, which made it a bit hard because I needed to find out the times, and the connections I would need to make. At first he indicated there were 0 trains going to Nagano today, which freaked me out because I had hotels planned and reserved. I reminded him that my rail passed allowed for the bullet trains (I wouldn’t want to make that trip on local trains if I could help it, there would be like 100 stops and several transfers), then everything went smoothly. I’ve been finding it impossible to withdraw cash because all of the ATMs I’ve found won’t read my card, I now know there are special International ATMs which are noted in my travel guide, but I took this opportunity to exchange some USD to YEN. I got on the Yamanote Line subway to Tokyo Station, and then there boarded my bullet train they call Asama. The trains are incredibly fast, running up to 160mph, but the trip with 6 stops took nearly 2 hours. I arrived in Nagano, the site of the 1997 Winter Olympics with it drizzling and the ground wet. After carrying like 50 lbs of luggage around the city for 20 minutes I eventually found my hotel and checked in. I gave the attendant a 200yen tip, but he out right refused, so I guess they don’t tip in Japan? I walked back to the Station grabbing a sandwich along the way planning to take the train to Yudanaka to visit Monkey Park, when going to buy the tickets however I find out that JR does not provide service there and I would need to use the Nagaden subway, I decided to first drop in on the tourist office there and see if they had any maps or information first. As it turns out there is bus service also by Nagaden for about the same cost, and taking less time dropping the rider near the park, taking the train from Yudanaka would mean I would need to take a bus anyway.

It was snowing in Yudanaka when I arrived. The walk to Monkey Park was more like a hike with the ground very muddy, it was worth the effort though, there were a number of monkeys in the hot spring and walking around. I found out that the park has a webcam of sorts trained on the main pool monkey cam. A nice couple offered to take my picture with a monkey. I walked back to the bus station only to find the bus wasn’t there, I figured I had just missed it. I waited another hour and a half for another bus, but one never came. It was now snowing, and very cold, and I was under dressed having not warn my snow pants since at noon I was too warm even with just the inner layer of my jacket, I’m glad I decided to wear the second layer atleast. I eventually gave up and walked to a gas station I saw on the way out and had them call for a taxi to drive me to Yudanaka so I could catch a train home. The ride was long but eventually I arrived back in Nagano to find it snowing lightly. I walked back to my room and retired for the night.

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