Yesterday was a great day. A cold one, but exciting nonetheless. For my first day off in 2 weeks (working at the hotel has been crazy), I decided to head down the mountain to see Japan’s famous snow monkeys. We have a sister ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) near Jigokudani National Park, and I was able to catch a ride with some Australian guests heading in the same direction.
It’s about a 30 minute walk from the road to where the monkeys bathe in the hot springs. For some reason, after being at the ski resort I thought it would be warmer down the mountain and forgot to bring anything but a thin jacket. At -10 degrees Celsius, it got pretty cold. The monkeys were totally worth it though. We were just feet away from them as they sat in the onsen (hot spring), walked all around us and played. Watching these monkey enjoy their bath just like people is hilarious.
After returning, the plan was to play tennis in Nagano City with Tori, an English girl who also plays tennis and works at the ryokan. I have an old tennis buddy in Nagano whose dad owns a tennis school so I thought we would check it out. After a few hours of trying to get off work, wondering if our boss would let us use the car, and getting lost, we finally made it. When we arrived, it was still a balmy -5 Celsius (23 Farenheit). By the time we left, it had gotten down to -9 degrees, 16 degrees Farenheit. Needless to say, we were pretty cold but the tennis was at least decent and it was great to see an old friend.
We finished after 10:00 and still hadn’t eaten so we stopped at a ramen shop and got the best ramen and gyoza I’ve eaten in a long time. I finished the evening with a rotenburo, a natural outdoor hot spring to wrap up a pretty darn good day.