Early morning we left Kyoto for a long journey to Shibu Onsen, Yudanaka, main purpose was to visit Jigokudani Yaen Koen (Monkey Park).
The journey basically took our time until mid-day just shinkansen & train-hopping.
I have visited Jigokudani Monkey Park in 2007. but as we are travelling with a first-time visitor to Japan, I thought we should visit this place again.
After dropping our bags at our accommodation for the night (Shensinkan Matsuya) - which was only 4 minutes taxi drive away (too lazy to take bus...), our mission was to appease the ever wriggling dragons in our tummy, so we had to postpone our visit to the monkeys to the next day (as it was already late noon and the monkey park closes at 4 p.m.)
Lunch was basically at one of the very few restaurants that opened (most still closed for new year's holiday) - Yariya (そば処 やり屋). They have english menu as well.
This place is very cutely decorated with a lot of figurines. Dishes served was not complicated, but hearty and yummy (and cheap too).
We had Smoked Salmon Sashimi, Tanuki Soba, Yakitori (though not on skewers like usual. Their version is just grilled chicken wings), Oden, Oyaki, and Karaage Chicken (also only deep fried chicken wings)
〒381-0401 長野県下高井郡, 山ノ内町平穏２１６９
We spent our afternoon doing onsen hopping. Shibu Onsen is famous for its 9 public onsens, said to have their own unique healing effects. However some of them are simply not possible to soak in. Take no 8 for example. The healing property for this is supposedly 'organic disease'
Boy I can tell you, anything organic would definitely die once dipped into the scalding water.
As staying guests of one of the ryokans at Shibu Onsen, we were given the master key to get into all of the public baths (we only tried 4 out of 9 though)
Shibu Onsen is a charming little town styled traditionally. The roads are quite narrow with a lot of narrow walking passages as well. There was not much snow this year apparently as well (kinda sad...).
For our stay at Shensinkan Matsuya, our fare was JPY10830 per person (including bathing tax and TAKE course dinner, as well as breakfast the next morning). The room does not have its own toilet and bath, but it is pretty easy to just go to the common toilet located at every floor. The bath is at the basement level, small but adequate.
Most importantly, it is reasonably priced and Tomomi & his wife - Keiko - really made us felt welcomed.
But man, the dinner.... Boy I can eat this everyday. I love trying the different dishes ryokan offers. The Japanese' creativity is so abundant, even in the dishes & presentation.
The beef - hotpot style - melted and was very sweet you hardly need the dipping sauce with it.
As Shinshu region is famous for their apples, quite a few of the dishes has the element as well, from the vegetable, or the spices.
The teapot contains mushroom soup. Very creative idea to serve simple soup.
〒381-0401 山ノ内町 Hirao 2222