Soak Up Tokyo's Shitamachi Culture at Takara-yu (タカラ湯) Public Bath If you talk to someone who knows a lot about the culture of Tokyo's Shitamachi (the old part of town that has a history of being home to lower castes of traditional society), you're bound to end up discussing sento (銭湯), or public baths. While a soak in one of Japan's many onsen, or natural hot springs, might feel like a stay in a five-star luxury resort, the sento experience is more equivalent to a homey bed and breakfast. They have that local feel, and a history of being closely connected to the culture of everyday life in Japan. (There are still people who choose to take a nightly bath at their neighborhood sento, rather than washing up at home!) When we went to Tochigi last fall, we introduced you to Tamagawa no Yu sento (also known as Goldfish-yu), where the water is still heated with a wood-burning stove and upstairs houses a skateboard ramp. This time we'd like to tell you about Takara-yu, a sento found during our Tokyo ramblings. The bath has seen a recent surge in popularity after being the setting for an advertisement also featuring popular actress Satomi Ishihara (as seen in Shin Godzilla), attracting fans from all over. If you too decide to take a dip and wash up at Takara-yu, after a day filled with Tanabata festivals and fireworks, you'll get a pretty good taste of Japanese summer!,Takara-yu Sento (タカラ湯) 27-1 Senju Motomachi, Adachi City, Tokyo Access: 20 min. from Kita-Senju Station Hours: 15:00 - 23:30 (closed Fridays) Official Website,If you like Japanese dramas or anime about everyday life, you're bound to be familiar with scenes of characters sitting together post-bath. Everyone is clean and relaxed, and maybe they're on the porch eating cool watermelon, or for some reason drinking a glass of milk. Most traditional Japanese houses have nice wooden porches perfect for enjoying the summer breeze, and enjoying the cool nighttime air there is a part of summer in Japan. On the other hand, few people in Japan live in traditional houses these days, and the average citizen of Tokyo is likely cooped up in a small apartment. The Takara-yu bathhouse gives Tokyoites (and lucky visitors) a space to sit and relax on a lovely veranda, while wind chimes ring in the wind and koi fish swim lazily by.,Takara-yu has been around for more than 90 years, after opening in the 2nd year of Japan's Showa Period (1927). The old bathhouse made it through wartime, and the building and facade haven't changed much in all this time. With only the actual baths having been renovated, the building is still full of old-fashioned charm. Like most sento, there are separate men's and women's baths. Most of the week men are directed towards the baths to the left of the reception desk, and women to the right. However, the garden is also on the left side, meaning that it's usually difficult for women to access. So every Wednesday the baths switch, and women are given the left side, and the opportunity to enjoy the garden and veranda. Aside from this once a week chance, there are also special events throughout the year, so that the veranda is open to women on other days of the week.,Entrance to the sento is 460 yen for adults (300 yen for high school students, 180 for elementary school students, and 80 yen for younger children.) Both sides of the bathhouse are spacious and clean, with convenient dressing rooms and washing areas lit with natural light. If you're looking for the landscape painting of Mt. Fuji so commonly found in bathhouses, you'll find a lovely example on the right side of the bathhouse (men will have to wait until Wednesday to get a good view). Aside from the standard hot baths, Takara-yu also offers aromatic herbal baths, sometimes made with traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. If you're looking to sooth the aches and pains of travel, or you're hoping to improve circulation, spend some time in one of these fragrant baths. If you're not too picky about your toiletries and don't want to bring things with you, basic shampoo and shower gel, along with hairdryers, are available for use. Other bath items are available for sale at the lobby counter, if you want to buy them there. Once you're all clean and ready to relax, the left-side bath offers a massage chair, and the right side has a sauna!,You're free to copy those around you and grab a bottle of milk to sip after your bath, but they also offer a variety of different drinks for purchase from their refrigerator. And if your stomach starts rumbling, you can grab a snack at the counter. Browse the bookshelf for a magazine or comic to read, bring your ice-cold milk, and cool off on the veranda!,When the hot Tokyo weather and the harshly cold air conditioning start to get to you, it's time to grab a towel and an uchiwa fan, and direct yourself towards Takara-yu sento. Once you're relaxing squeaky clean on the porch, as the gentle wind blows through your hair and the windchimes under the eaves, you'll hear yourself sigh and say "now this is summer in Japan."   Be sure to look out for more exciting articles every day at JAPANKURU!  Or add us on Instagram and Facebook to share your pictures of Japan. 🗾,⇩ Take a little tour of the bathhouse! ⇩
Suzuka Circuit Theme Park: Spend the Day as an F1 Racer, Live the Dream! "When I grow up, I want to be a race car driver!" Are you one of the many children who had this thought growing up? Maybe you heard it from one (or all!) of your friends? If you're looking for an outlet where that dream can come true, we'd like to present: Suzuka Circuit! It's highly recommended for racing lovers, as a place where all of your Formula 1 dreams can come true. Strap on your helmet, start the engine, grab the steering wheel... (For F1 racing, do you still place your hands in the 10 and 2 positions?) Join the Japankuru team, and step on the gas. Today we're living that race car driver dream!,About Suzuka Circuit Suzuka Circuit was built as the first full-scale standard international racing course in Japan! Completed in 1962, it has a history of almost 60 years of major events. It's famous for hosting the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, along with the "Suzuka 8 Hours", an 8-hour endurance race for motorcyclists. As the venue for these big races, famous professional drivers can also frequently be seen moving around the facilities. In order to simplify the process of bringing in large-scale contestants and racing teams, Suzuka Circuit's hotel was built near the racetrack. Since then, the hotel has become an impressive racing-themed establishment, and things like restaurants and natural hot springs were developed nearby to cater to guests. Now, there's a Formula 1 racing-themed theme park! Even if you just buy tickets to visit the park, the racetrack's proximity means you might just spot a pro racer as well. Suzuka Circuit Address: 7992 Ino-cho, Suzuka, Mie Access: From Shiroko Station, either take a taxi or a Mie Transportation bus. Official Website (en),The most interesting part of this theme park built around a Formula 1 circuit is how much the circuit is really opened up to visitors. Suzuka Circuit teamed up with pro racer Takuma Sato to create the world's first electric racing system, allowing racing fans big and small to enjoy a realistic race car experience in a safe and easy-to-operate driving environment. Whether you've only ever sat in a car seat, or already have a license and drive a car every day, you learn about how to drive an electric car through the staff's professional explanations. The experience is open to guests two years and older, although car drivers must be at least 9 years old, and only drivers 11 years and up can drive unaccompanied. Pile the family into this three-seater, and race as a team!,Before the race, each driver gets a keycard. Then you just jump in, start the engine, and you're ready to go! The electric race cars are equipped with a voiced navigation system (English and Chinese available!), and each driver is guided around the track. Once finished with the race, each driver can take their keycard to a designated machine outside to get a transcript with their driving score. (Are you ready to look into that pro racing career yet? The machine will let you know!) Although precautions are taken to make the experience safe enough for the average person, it is still an electric car race, and there are rules to keep everyone from hurting themselves or others. While on the track at Circuit Challenger, no photo taking is allowed. But don't worry, an official commemorative photo will be taken during the race. Each driver can take home a perfect snapshot of their heroic driving, as long as they're willing to pay for it.,Suzuka Circuit's Racing Theater is no average screening room, with a whole building devoted to the motto “Watch, Try and Meet the Genuine Things”. The main theater has a full-scale wide screen and sensory sound system, with seats modeled after racecar bucket seats, open to guests 3 years and older. Outside of the main theater are a number of interesting racing-themed exhibits. Various cars sit on display, alongside helmets from previous competitions, and signatures collected from well-known professional racers around the world. There are also rooms of games that give visitors the experience of driving an actual F1 vehicle, from seeing how an actual steering wheel handles, to feeling the wind speed of a racing car.,After learning all about racing, are you thinking you might want to work on your driving skills? Then the Acro-X Evolution attraction will introduce you to the world of off-road vehicles, and will take your driving to the next level. The track takes drivers through 12 different geographical settings with different challenges, based off of the various obstacles you might face driving through nature, including steep slopes and water cannons. The off-road vehicle is also equipped with a scoring function, so as you pass through each section of the track, it'll let you know how you're doing so far. At the end of your adventure, grab another transcript and see how your skills really pan out when it comes to off-roading! Children between the ages of 2 and 8 can join in, but must be accompanied by a companion 13 years or older. Drivers over 9 are free to enjoy the experience on their own or with others!,Stopping by the Racing Theater you get to see a lot of very suave Formula 1 car drivers, but the videos also feature some very cool motorcyclists. Everyone leaving the theater is probably dreaming of how cool they would look tearing down the road on two wheels, too. Younger viewers might not even be able to ride a bicycle yet, though, so it might seem like a bit of a challenge to skip that major step and get right on a motorbike. At Suzuka Circuit, though, you'll see some surprisingly young children doing just fine, and balancing without a hitch. The newly launched Acro Bike attraction features mini-motorbikes specially designed just for children, making it pretty easy to leapfrog right over bicycles and get going already! There's a track made just for these motorbikes, with hills to add some extra excitement to the ride. Children ages five and older can try out Acro Bike. Children under 9 must obtain an "A License" at Kids Bike Training beforehand, however.,With lots of attractions focused on the challenge of driving a fast car, the park has a few other kinds of rides to balance things out, of course. Suzuka Circuit Theme Park has a variety of fun rides! "Adventure Drive" is Japan's first voice-accelerated coaster attraction, for when you want to be loud and silly, and the "Putti Grand Prix" is a less intense kind of race that can be fun for just one person, as well. Tic-Tac Train and Run-Run Balloon are both very cute for kids and adults, and Adven-Boat Frontier is a boating adventure that's fun for the whole family to embark on together. If your group is looking for something off the racetrack, you can always try a different kind of driving!,Inside the Suzuka Circuit theme park, there's a good variety of places to get food and drinks, from snacks to full meals. Our recommendation, though, is that you stop into the warm and inviting Bun Bun's Pancake Shop while you're there. You can eat your fill of dishes like pork chops and hamburger steaks, but while you're at the pancake shop you can't miss their specialty pancakes. The pancakes are made with high-quality wheat flour produced in Mie Prefecture, and are topped with fragrant Japanese acacia honey. One of their most popular dishes is "Bun Bun's Smile Pancake", a dish with pancakes arranged in the shape of their cute bee mascot, Bun Bun! (You may be thinking "why isn't Bun Bun a bunny?" Well, in Japanese bees say bun bun instead of buzz buzz, so they've got a little honey bee there to sweeten your pancakes.) The shop's interior is also carefully designed to make it a comfortable space, with fir wood tabletops and floor-to-ceiling windows to let in the sunlight. Grab a sweet snack here and relax and recharge, before heading back out into the park.,The Suzuka Circuit Hotel was originally designed to accommodate the drivers and teams that came to the racetrack for large international events. However it has expanded since then, and now includes natural hot springs, restaurants, and even a family camping area, turning it into quite the resort. Whether you're there to visit the theme park, watch a racing event, or even participate in one, staying at the Suzuka Circuit Hotel is sure to round out your experience of living the racecar driver dream. The hotel caters to all kinds of customers, offering rooms ranging from your normal suite, to a variety of racing-themed rooms all over the hotel, with furniture and decorations designed to complete your experience.,Next to the hotel is S-PLAZA, which includes the natural buffet restaurant SORA・TABEYO, the premium grill and bar SHUN, and the organic cafe Sunpo. SORA・TABEYO focuses on cuisine using lots of fresh, seasonal ingredients, creating dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. SHUN offers a different dining experience, featuring a fantastic chef show, and then a little chef experience just for children. Within the Suzuka Circuit Resort is a natural hot spring with hot water coming in from Suzuka, which is open to all hotel guests. If your family just spent the whole day running around with children in an amusement park, melting away the day's fatigue with a soak in the hot spring might be just the ticket. If camping is more your thing, there's also a camping ground on the premises, a favorite with younger guests. Tents, sleeping bags, and even BBQ equipment can be rented out while you're there. Whether you're visiting from within the city of Suzuka, or halfway across the world, it's easy to enjoy the fun of camping at the circuit., Theme parks are where we go to live out our dreams, and with race cars being a passion for so many kids, the Suzuka Circuit experience might be a dream come true. We can't all grow up to be Formula 1 racecar drivers, or whatever we dreamed when we were little, but there's no reason not to pretend for a while, and have a good time while you're at it! Plop down in the driver's seat on the Suzuka Circuit racetrack, and race towards a fun time with family and friends. Be sure to look out for more exciting articles every day at JAPANKURU!  Or add us on Instagram and Facebook to share your pictures of Japan. 🗾
The "Ohta Isan" Series of Japanese Digestive Medicine for the Family Taking care of Japanese stomachs for 140 years, "Ohta Isan". Also popular among foreign visitors to Japan, this gastrointestinal medicine has become a standard item on many shopping lists as a "must buy item" while in Japan. The medicine can be purchased in most Japanese drug stores.,① Ohta Isan,Opening the can, you'll find an inner lid and a spoon. On the inner lid is a ledge made for leveling spoonfuls of powder, so the proper dose can be easily measured out and taken.,The packet-type packaging is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry around in an everyday purse or bag. It's the best choice for travel!,② Ohta Isan A <in tablet>,It's great to have around as a household medicine, since it's effective when a particularly oily meal leaves you feeling a little overfull and uncomfortable, at home or on vacation.,Each individual packet contains the equivalent of the three tablet dose. The packets are then grouped in threes, and there are five of these sheets in one box. That makes it the equivalent of 45 tablets.,③ Ohta Isan Drug for Controlling Intestinal Function,The lactic acid bacteria helps put the intestinal environment in order, and the herbal medicine helps improve the movement of the intestinal tract. This means it can improve the condition of sensitive stomachs suffering from constipation and diarrhea.,④ Ohta Chinese Herbal Gastrointestinal Medicine Ⅱ,It's a stressful society. Your stomach already isn't in great shape... Without warning, "Ow! My stomach hurts!" At times like this, Chinese herbal medicine provides gentle care.,As a popular series of digestive medicine in Japan, commonly found in households for many years, Ohta Isan's catchphrase "thank you, that's good medicine" is well-known throughout the country. Taking advantage of all of the benefits of herbal medicine, it's no wonder Ohta Isan's natural effect has made it a beloved choice for so long.
A Road Trip from Tokyo to Nagano with Nissan Rent-a-Car: Sakura, Wasabi, and the Nakasendo's Naraijuku Nissan Rent-a-Car x JAPANKURU Nagano・Spring Tour   When you imagine Japan in the spring, what images pop into your mind? Budding flowers? Cherry blossoms coming into bloom, and then raining petals down in light pink showers? This time, JAPANKURU hopped in a Nissan rent-a-car in Tokyo, and headed east towards Nagano. On the way we saw the blush of sakura cherry blossoms, the blue of the warming sky, the snowy white of Mt. Fuji's peak, and the green of the lakes and mountains along the road. Our trip was painted with all the colors of Japan's spring palette!,Since we were starting from Tokyo, this time JAPANKURU used the Nissan Rent-a-Car Tokyo Station Yaesuguchi Branch. It's just a 3 to 5 minute walk south of Tokyo Station's Yaesu Exit, making it an easy trip over. It's definitely a convenient location if you're dragging around luggage. Even if you're starting your road trip in another part of Japan, though, Nissan's website lists clear information about what services are offered at each Nissan Rent-a-Car branch. On the Tokyo Station Yaesuguchi Branch's page, you'll see that it has ETC card rental available. Tokyo Station Yaesuguchi Branch Address: 2-5-4 Yaesu, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Hours: 24/7 Phone: 03-3274-4501 Branch Info Online Reservations,◆ Before you start planning your trip, remember: in Japan, cars drive on the left side of the road. (Learn more about why!) If you're from a country that drives on the right side, it's not too hard to get used to the switch, but it's a good idea to keep it in mind before you get on the road. Once you're confident in your left-side-of-the-road driving skills and you've determined your itinerary, confirm the following information and have all your documents ready before going to rent your car! ◆ For reservations: □ Ready your passport. □ Obtain an international driver's license. (More details on international permits for Americans, and some information from Nissan.) □ Learn about what ETC (electronic toll collection) cards are for, and how to use them with Nissan Rent-a-Car. □ Check in at the rental counter, and confirm your vehicle rental! ◆ Renting a car on site: □ Find the perfect rental in their garage. □ Pay with cash or credit card.,On our way to Nagano Prefecture, we stopped in for a lap of the Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival in Yamanashi!,In addition to wandering the shiba-sakura grounds and enjoying gourmet sweets, there's plenty else to do at the festival. If you want to admire the flowers from a new perspective, take a hot air balloon ride and view them from the air! Or relax and soak your feet in a foot bath while you look on at the flowers. If you're used to Yoshina sakura, Japan's most common cherry blossom variety, these new sakura will be a treat! mo The Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival 2019 (Annual Event) Event Dates: April 13 ~ May 26 Address: 212 Motusu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru Yamanashi Admission Fee: Adults 600 yen/Children 250 yen Official Website (en) Driving Info Parking: 2 lots available Fee: compact vehicles 500 yen/larger vehicles 2,000 yen/motorbikes 300 yen,Did we get lost and find ourselves in the Alps? Wait, no, this pastoral wonderland is still Yamanashi!,Seisenryo is a natural retreat and resort area in Yamanashi Prefecture with hotels, restaurants... and farms! The surrounding scenery certainly makes for a relaxing spot, with breathtaking mountains around the compound and a view of Mt. Fuji in the distance. Seisenryo was originally constructed as a Christian youth retreat center in 1938, but was rebuilt in 1957 with the current business model, open to the public. The retreat now specializes in delicious food made with fresh seasonal ingredients, many of which are purchased from the local farms. It's especially famous for the soft-serve ice cream made with milk from Jersey cows living in nearby ranches. Get a taste of this fresh and deliciously milky ice cream for 400 yen.,You can get the famous soft serve at the Seisenryo Jersey Hut. Within the hut is the Seisenryo Baker's Workshop, which sells freshly-baked bread, burgers, produce, and souvenirs. You can spend some time outside the shop on their 300 square meter (3230 sq ft) wooden deck, and savor the burgers and ice cream while you gaze at the mountain view. Seisenryo Address: 3545 Takanecho Kiyosato, Hokuto, Yamanashi Jersey Hut Hours: 9:00 ~ 17:00 Seisenryo Official Website / Jersey Hut Official Website Driving Info Parking: 200 spots available Fee: free!,The Yatsugatake Area The mountains that stretch between Nagano and Yamanashi Prefectures are called the Yatsugatake range. It's a popular area among mountain climbers in Japan, but this time we just admired their beauty from afar.,According to legend, these are the first sakura cherry blossoms in the world.,After seeing the moss phlox shiba-sakura of Yamanashi, we hope you've gotten a taste for less orthodox sakura viewing. This time, we're taking you to Takato Castle Site Park to enjoy night time sakura viewing. This park is said to be one of the top three cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan each spring, and it holds an annual Takato Sakura Festival. Luckily, you can enter the park and enjoy the beautiful sakura during daylight hours, and also after sunset! A night visit gives you the perfect opportunity to see the beautifully lit blossoms reflected in the water under the bridge, a big contrast in comparison to the bright sun that shines onto the grounds during the day. Of course, if you end up at the Takato Castle Site Park during the winter, you won't be disappointed then, either. Snow blankets the park's maple trees and Japanese-style buildings, giving everything lots of winter charm. Takato Castle Site Park Address: Higashi Takato, Takatomachi, Ina, Nagano Hours: 8:00 ~ 21:00 Admission Fee: Sakura Viewing Period - Adults 500 yen/Children 200 yen (Free entrance at other times of year.) Official Website / Takato Sakura Festival Website Driving Info Parking: available Fee: compact vehicles 700 yen  ,We wended our way through the roads once traversed by feudal lords of Japan, traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto.,During Japan's Edo Period, the "Five Routes" were the main arteries of the country. These five paths connected the capital, Edo (or modern-day Tokyo), to the rest of the country. These roads functioned not only as gateways for travelers, but also as the lifeblood of Japan's economy, with merchants taking advantage of the established routes. One of these routes was the Nakasendo (中山道 - literally central mountain route), which was commonly traveled by those going between the Tokyo area and Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital. Sometimes called the "Samurai Street", the ancient warriors supposedly walked the 550 km (340 mile) way in two weeks. Of course, since this was no quick trip, many towns sprouted up along the Five Routes as rest stops for travelers, usually called "stations" in English, or "shukuba" (宿場) in Japanese. There are 69 stations along the Nakasendo Route, and one of the largest and most successful of these station towns was Naraijuku in Nagano. (The "juku" in Naraijuku (奈良井宿) and the "shuku" in "shukuba" (宿場) are actually the same Japanese word, meaning a place to stay! Just hearing the name can tell you about the town's origins.),With so many visitors arriving since the Edo Era, the town has sometimes been called "Narai of 1,000 buildings" (Narai senken, or 奈良井千軒), and some of those old Edo buildings are still around! Naraijuku still bustles with same rest station spirit, and there are many hotels, restaurants, and small shops around town. If you really love the look of old Japanese buildings, with beautiful wood facades and carefully tiled roofs, this chunk of the Nakasendo path will make your heart sing. We decided to stay in the Naraijuku guest house Ikariya Machida, which took us back in time with rooms that smelled pleasantly of the wooden floors, and with home-made traditional Japanese cuisine prepared by the facility's owner. After a night there, we could imagine how a similar stay might have erased the fatigue of Edo travelers, leaving them refreshed and ready for the rest of their trip along the Nakasendo. Ikariya Machida Inn (いかりや町田民宿) Address: 573-1 Narai, Shiojiri, Nagano Official Website,As a rest stop, aside from traditional Japanese inns, of course Naraijuku has a (very) old-fashioned coffee shop! I mean, can you imagine going on a two-week trip without stopping even once for coffee? Matsuyasabo still keeps travelers going today, and it's the only coffee we drank on our road trip! The coffee shop is in an old two-story house built towards the end of the Edo Period. The first floor is a little more modern, and is set up as a western-style cafe, but the second floor has a Japanese-style room with tatami flooring, so you can plop down and enjoy your coffee or tea. Matsuyasabo Coffee Shop Address: 583 Narai, Shiojiri, Nagano Hours: 9:00 ~ 17:00 Official Website,Naraijuku Address: Narai, Shiojiri, Nagano Official Website Driving Info Parking: available around the area. Fee: both free and paid, see the official website for details.,Did you know that most of the wasabi eaten outside of Japan... isn't really wasabi? Your local sushi joint might do a reasonable job approximating the sinus-clearing flavor, but this farm has the real thing, and a lot of it!,Daio Wasabi Farm was established in 1917, giving it a history of more than 100 years. Covering an area of 15 hectares (more than 1.5 million square ft), it's the largest wasabi farm in Japan. Wasabi is rare outside of Japan because it's notoriously difficult to grow, but Daio Wasabi Farm clearly has the process down pat! The farm is a wasabi wonderland, and lovers of the green stuff will rejoice in the 150 metric tons harvested annually. Aside from being a functional farm, Daio Wasabi Farm also provides wasabi snacks of all kinds, and of course wasabi souvenirs. Have you ever imagined wasabi as anything other than a tool for adding a little kick to your sushi? The on-site restaurant will open your mind and your sinuses to the many ways it can be eaten and thoroughly enjoyed. If you're a fan of famous director Akira Kurosawa, don't miss this chance to visit the setting for the final segment of his 1990 film Dreams. ,Daio Wasabi Farm Address: 3640, Hotaka, Azumino, Nagano Hours: 9:00 ~ 17:20 (Mar ~ Oct)/9:00 ~ 16:30 (Nov ~ Feb) Admission: Free! Official Website Driving Info Parking: 350 spots available Fee: free!,After our trip to the Daio Wasabi Farm, we took our Nissan Rent-a-Car into the Hakuba area of Nagano. Hakuba is known as a ski resort area, but even in the spring and summer the mountains are beautifully snow-capped.,This popular resort lake is one of the "Nishina Three Lakes".,Close to Hakuba, the surrounding mountains reflect on the lake water, making the glassy surface look like an impressionist painting. When the weather gets nice in the spring and summer, it's a popular destination for visitors who want to spend time camping, hiking, or hanging out in and around the water. Take a kayak out into the middle of the peaceful lake, and then just lay back and relax. Kizakiko Pow Wow Campsite & Outdoor Club Address: 19004-1 Taira, Omachi, Nagano Fee: See the website for prices. Official Website Driving Info Parking: available Fee: free!  ,Is it truly a trip through Japan's countryside without a stop at a hot spring bath?,With Hakuba being a popular winter tourist destination, luxurious hot springs (or onsen in Japanese, 温泉) are a must! This one, called Obinata no Yu, flows right from a natural source, and includes an open-air bath surrounded by the mountainous scenery. It's beautiful year-round, but in winter the snow piles up outside while the hot water keeps you warm and cozy. We had to take a break here before hitting the road again! Obinata no Yu Address: 9346-1 Hokujo, Hakuba-mura, Kitaazumi, Nagano Fee: Adults 600 yen/Children 300 yen (Bring toiletries and towels, or rent them for an extra fee.) Hours: 9:00 ~ 18:00 (summer)/19:00 ~ 17:00 (winter) Website Driving Info Parking: 20 spots available Fee: free!,While in Hakuba, we stayed in an apartment-style hotel right up against one of the many mountains.,Hakuba doesn't offer quite the same "step outside and you're there" convenience as a big city, so it's a great place to choose a hotel with apartment-style suites. We chose to visit Mountain Side Hakuba, a fresh new hotel that finished construction in just January 2017. Each of the suites comes with a complete living room and kitchen, along with bedrooms and baths. We got to take a trip to the supermarket together, cook up dinner, and have ourselves a dinner party. Why not give it a try with your friends and family next time you're in Hakuba?,Mountain Side Hakuba Address: 4313-1 Hokujo Hakuba, Kita Azumi-gun, Nagano Official Website/Reservation Page Driving Info Parking: available Fee: free!,Thanks to NHK historical drama Sanada Maru, the city of Ueda was brought back to the time of warriors, and to the forefront of Japanese minds.,We already stopped in at Naraijuku, a historic remnant of the Edo Period's Five Routes, so we thought we'd take a look at what some of the other main roads of Japan's past were like. Slightly less enormous in its importance, but still widely traveled, was the Hokkoku Kaido highway running the width of Japan.  While travelers utilizing the Nakasendo, and the other Five Routes, were strictly inspected, the Hokkoku Kaido road was available for much freer use. Because of this, the road was crowded with the average citizens of Edo Japan, relied upon by many for everyday uses. Of course, this was no short path, and towns popped up along the Hokkoku Kaido to provide travelers with rest and refreshment, just like the more major roads. One of these rest stations with bits of the old town remaining is Yanagimachi in Ueda City, where many of the old shops and inns are still functioning buildings. Walk down the street these days and you'll find shops selling traditional snacks, souvenirs, and restaurants filling the air with the savory and sweets smells of the Edo Era.,A site good for history buffs and sakura lovers!,Ten to fifteen minutes walk from Yanagimachi's historic street is the Ueda Castle Park. This castle was originally built by the area's Sanada clan, which is indeed the same Sanada as in the popular NHK drama made in the area. The castle and the Sanada clan managed the impressive feat of forcing Tokugawa's army to retreat, not just once, but twice keeping a much larger and more powerful military at bay. Nowadays, the remnants of that powerful keep are just barely hanging on, but the park is still a rejuvenating visit. On the grounds is the Sanada Shrine (真田神社), a popular destination for students praying they pass their exams. And during the spring, blooming cherry blossoms cascade down the banks of the moat and around the park.,If you want to learn more about local history, check here for events on the theme. Watch history come to life in these entertaining performances. Ueda Castle Park Address: 2 Ninomaru, Ueda, Nagano Fee: Adults 300 yen/High School Students 200 yen/Elementary School Students 100 yen Official Website Driving Info Parking: available at the Ueda Castle Station lot and Ueda Castle Hokkoku Tourism lot Fee: free for a limited period, details available here.,Thanks for coming along on our road trip to Nagano, everybody! These were our favorite stops on the way, but if you want to take a similar trip and you love packing days full to bursting with things to do, here are a couple more places you can check out.,Did you have fun joining us on the roads of Nagano this time around? If you like reading about road trips in Japan, this isn't our first time out! We've explored some of the breathtaking nature of Japan's Kyushu Island in the south. We ate cow tongue and met the friendly foxes of Japan's northern region, Tohoku. And we once went on three little trips around the country!   Be sure to look out for more exciting articles every day at JAPANKURU!  Or add us on Instagram and Facebook to share your pictures of Japan. 🗾
Affordable Hotel near Tokyo Disney Resort®: Make Your Trip Stress-Free at Mitsui Garden Hotel Prana Tokyo Bay Planning a trip to Tokyo Disney Resort®? This hotel, which is located on the grounds will make your amusement park adventure easier and hassle-free!   Mitsui Garden Hotel PRANA Tokyo Bay ,One of the things Mitsui Garden Hotel PRANA Tokyo Bay prides itself of is being a big family friendly hotel, and after visiting we couldn't agree more. Just in their lobby alone you can see areas that set them apart from other hotels. Like their colorful design and a designated area for small children to play, the "KIDS LOBBY", which is across from the hotel check-in counter. As if juggling a bunch of luggage wasn't enough, if you have a child that needs carrying, carts and strollers are free to use for hotel guests.,There are plenty of useful services provided at Mitsui Garden Hotel PRANA Tokyo Bay. One that really sparked our attention was the baggage delivery service available at the "Bon Voyage" (the big Tokyo Disney Resort® store with the big red arch to the right of JR Maihama Station). If you would like to go to the park right away before checking into the hotel, you can check your baggage at the Home Delivery Service Counter located on the first floor for 400yen. They will then deliver your baggage to your hotel room. ⏰7:30am~3pm Other great services include:, Terrace  🐭Suitable for: 5〜6 people This is the largest room type (784ft²/72.9m²) in the hotel with 6 beds and a small living room. Since it can accommodate a lot of people, there are two toilets and washstands, so don't worry about having to share a single bathroom with a big group! For those with small children, children's toilet seats, bottle sterilizers, children's bath products, etc. are also available for free. If they are not once you arrive you can ask for the items you need at the front desk., Prana Fourth  🐭Suitable for: 4 people This Prana Fourth bedroom is based on the concept of a meadow, which is why they ask that you take off your shoes at the entrance before entering the room. This room is particularly compatible with young children by lowering the height of the bed and getting rid of sharp edges (tables, headboards, etc.), making parents feel more at ease., Balcony Fourth ,With spring and summer break almost here, finding an accommodative place to stay that makes getting to a popular place like Tokyo Disney Resort® stress-free is really important. Especially if you are traveling as a family. There aren't many hotels in Tokyo that are truly child-friendly, spacious, have a great breakfast, and reasonably priced. It is almost like you are at a hotel in America, which may be part of why Mitsui Garden Hotel PRANA Tokyo Bay appeals to so many foreign guests. If you are looking to visit Tokyo Disney Resort®, we highly recommend staying at Mitsui Garden Hotel PRANA Tokyo Bay. If for any other reason it allows you to beat some of the crowd when you go in the morning. 🐭   🐭Mitsui Garden Hotel PRANA Tokyo Bay Google Maps Check-in 3pm Check-out noon Shuttle Bus Information,Be sure to look at JAPANKURU🐶 for more exciting articles every day!! Or add us on Instagram and Facebook to share your Japanese pictures💖🗾
Latest Article
View All
Event CalendarSee All Events
Featured VideosView All
  • NEW Firefly Squid HotpotFirefly Squid Hotpot2019.06.24
  •  From Tokyo to Nagano and Back, a Drive Through the Mountains with Nissan Rent-a-CarFrom Tokyo to Nagano and Back, a Drive Through the Mountains with Nissan Rent-a-Car2019.06.18
  •  Suzuka Circuit Theme Park: Your Chance to Live the F1 Racing LifeSuzuka Circuit Theme Park: Your Chance to Live the F1 Racing Life2019.06.13
  •  Shirasu Cuisine on Enoshima IslandShirasu Cuisine on Enoshima Island2019.06.06
  •  The Friendly Kitty Cats of Enoshima IslandThe Friendly Kitty Cats of Enoshima Island2019.06.06
  •  The Amazing Geology of Akiyoshidai PlateauThe Amazing Geology of Akiyoshidai Plateau2019.06.03
  •  A Trip to Hotel Nikko NaritaA Trip to Hotel Nikko Narita2019.05.31
  •  The Beautiful Torii Gates of Motonosumi Inari ShrineThe Beautiful Torii Gates of Motonosumi Inari Shrine2019.05.20
  •  Flying Over Japan's Tiny Desert: the Tottori Sand Dunes!Flying Over Japan's Tiny Desert: the Tottori Sand Dunes!2019.05.20
Booking.com