JAPOW! Part5

Just Another Morning of Commute, Part 2

Another morning with a foot of snow fell overnight, a local snow clearer getting busy from before-dawn for us to be able to drive through these roads.

It is quite a common sight to see in the morning in snowy regions of Japan.

In case you have not seen anything like this, here’s a video of just another morning for us.

Enjoy!

New Video, View From My Window

Watching the seasons changing

I was fortunate enough to see the seasons change, from late Autumn to winter here in Nagano.

I captured a bit of “A different day, A different weather” from my window during my stay at Ryuoo Ski Park so let me share those moments with you here.

Hope you’ll enjoy this video!

ATMs in Yudanaka

Another important piece of information that may save your life

So I showed you where to go to for exchanging your money if you ever get caught short of Yen when you really need them while in Yudanaka.

Please read this in Foreign Currency Exchange in Yudanaka

But what if you don’t have a cash but need to withdraw some off an ATM?

There is 1 commercial bank in Yudanaka

As far as I’m aware, there are 2 options for you.

ATMs in Yudanaka

1, Lawson


There is a convenience store called “Lawson” ローソン, a few minutes walk from Yudanaka Station.

Inside this store, on your left once you walk in, there is an ATM.

Normally most of those convenience stores are open 24/7, year-round.

2, Post Office


In Japan, Post Offices (which is run by the government) also does banking service therefore they have ATMs.

Their symbol is shown in the first photo above. It’s in red, “T” with another bar above, quite a common sight in Japan. You see this symbol everywhere on streets, maps and so on.

It’s 5 min walk from the station.

And you’ll see it right there through the first glass door.

They are open between,

Weekdays: 9am – 5pm.

Closed on Saturdays and Sundays

3, Hachijuni Bank 八十二銀行

Please be aware that it’ll take longer than what this google maps says because you can’t actually walk across the station but you have to walk around it!

Their Opening Hours are,

Weekdays: 8:45am – 9pm

Saturdays and Sundays: 9am – 7pm

Things to be aware

It is quite common for Convenience Stores, Japanese banks and Post Office to charge you commissions (normally around ¥100) for transactions.

That charge could be even higher if the transaction gets made after normal business hours or over the weekend.

So as I mentioned in “Exchanging Money In Yudanaka” post,

Preparation is the best protection

So as long as the money goes in Japan, always carry them, lots of them with you just in case.

Credit Card payments are not as readily available as you would think.

Hope this will save some of your lives!

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Genkin Wo Michi Aruku 現金を持ち歩く = Carry cash with (you)

I can’t stress enough to do this! Keep trying and practising!

Foreign Currency Exchange in Yudanaka

The Only Place in Yudanaka to exchange to Yen

ryuoo-ski-park-yudanaka-shop

Japan is such a “Cash Society”

Like many other Asian countries where you need to carry a wad of cash in your wallet or pocket.

Credit Card payments are not as readily available as other Western countries.

Like New Zealand, that I live, all the payments can be made by simply tapping my credit cards on EFYPOS (or DEBIT in most countries?) terminal.

I seriously do not carry cash with me these days in daily life in NZ. So this cash-carrying culture is something I’m not used to (anymore) either.

Anything can happen

Still, you can always do some research in advance and get prepared for it.

However, some unforeseen circumstances can put you in a difficult situation where you need lots of cash, like your hotel actually don’t take credit card payment and you were not aware of it until the last minute!

Solution For You

So I introduced this place when I talked about the coin lockers at Yudanaka Station. It’s in the same place, right across the station.

yudanaka-info-centre-front-door

Here’s the aerial map to show you where.

yudanaka-station-coin-locker-001

Their money-exchange machine takes 9 different currencies as below.

  • Euro
  • Chinese Yuan
  • US Dollar
  • Hong Kong Dollar
  • Taiwanese Dollar]
  • Korean Won
  • Thai Baht
  • Singaporean Dollar
  • Australian Dollar

freign-money-exchange-machine-at-yudanaka-4

Basically, you just follow the instruction on the screen.

  • Choose the currency you have
  • Confirm the exchange rate that gets calculated daily by the machine
  • feed the notes (No coins obviously)

freign-money-exchange-machine-at-yudanaka-1freign-money-exchange-machine-at-yudanaka-2freign-money-exchange-machine-at-yudanaka-3

Their shop is open from 8am till 5:30pm.

So, hopefully, now you know at least a place to rush to when you get caught short in Yudanaka!

Remember, preparations is the best prevention!

See you next time

Today’s Phrase

Ryougae Ga Dekimasuka? 両替ができますか? = Can I exchange money?

This is an useful phrase to know!

Yudanaka before and after snow

Right now the very strong cold front has been over the majority of the main island as well as Hokkaido, the northern island for the last few days that has been bringing lots and lots of snow. (This post was written in Mid-January, 2017)

I have been lucky enough to have spent some time in this area since Mid-November, 2016. That time has allowed me to see the seasons change from Autumn to Winter in this beautiful part of Japan.

Here I just want to share with you some of my photo collection to show you how different it looks with and without snow.

These changes have occurred between November and January.

1, This is a rental shop up on Ryuoo Ski Park

ryuoo-nov-16ryuoo-jan-17

2, Just outside Yudanaka Station when you look to your right

yudanaka-nov-16yudanaka-jan-17

3, Yudanaka Station from the front

yudanaka-station-nov-16yudanaka-station-jan-17

4, A street with no name just outside Yudanaka Station

yudanaka-street-nov-16yudanaka-street-jan-17

5, A restaurant outside Yudanaka Station

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I’m not saying that you can always see the snow and scenery like this with snow but one thing for sure.

In this part of Japan, when it snows, it really snows.

I’m pretty sure Snow Monkeys must be staying hot water for your viewing pleasure to stay warm on a day like this.

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Nagano Dewa Yukiga Takusan Hurimasu 長野では雪がたくさん降ります = It snows a lot in Nagano

Listen and keep practising so you can have a chat with locals!

Yudanaka Station: Up Close

How Yudanaka Station looks like?

yudanaka-station-inside-2

yudanaka-station-inside-1

So when you arrive at Yudanaka Station, this is what you are expecting to see.

It is a small train station.

In case you are wondering where that is, here’s the google map for you.

Once you walk out of platforms, you quite likely will see half a dozen people with flags with their accommodation’s name on, or a paper with your name on.

Vans from accommodations are parked just outside along with local taxis in black.

There is a waiting room/information centre in this station. It’s a nice place to stay warm if you have to wait here for some reason.

There are some english-speaking staff there to help you for your every needs, as well as variety of brochures available.

There is also a free wi-fi here.

yudanaka-station-info-centreyudanaka-station-waiting-room

If you are going to Jigokudani Monkey Park to see Snow Monkey, turn right as soon as you walk out the exit and you will see the bus counter with time tables above.

yudanaka-station-bus-timetable-2yudanaka-station-bus-timetable-1

There is a smaller bus timetable in English in A4 size on the window.

This is also the place to buy a bus ticket to go skiing to Shiga Kogen.

Speaking of skiing at Shiga Kogen.

This is the only way to get there, by using these Nagaden buses, unless you have a rent-a -car.

Please be aware that their departures in the morning is quite limited.

As of Jan, 2017, there are only 3 buses leaving Yudanaka for Shiga Kogen.

7:40am, 8:20am and 10:15am.

The Fare: ¥1100 to Oku Shiga Kogen (The furthest, the end of the line)

Public Toilet is just outside, on your left.

Now you have a better idea of this station, right?

Sounds good, see you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Yudanaka Eki Ni Ikimasuka? 湯田中駅に行きますか? = Is it going to Yudanaka Station?

It’s useful when you want to know if a bus/train goes to where you want to go!

 

Shiga Kogen Beer 志賀高原ビール

A local craft beer brewery in Yamanouchi Area

shiga-kogen-beer-on-tap

shiga-kogen-beer-3

So Shiga Kogen has once won a prestigious status amongst all the domestic ski resorts because,

  1. It hosted some of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics races
  2. Being one of the largest area for skiing with 19 resorts combined
  3. The location was used for filming a hugely popular movie in the 80s, when skiing was so popular

With that prestigious name as the brand, Shiga Kogen Beer has been around for quite many years.

Tamamura Honten 玉村本店 is the brewer of that legendary beer, based in this region, Kutsuno right across Shibu Onsen.

shiga-kogen-beer-logo-1

Duration: 2 hours round trip on foot from Yudanaka Station, including the time to enjoy a pint of beer

Tamamura Honten

Tamaura Honten is originally a Sake maker, founded in 1805, and have been producing Sake for more than 200 years at the same location!

Then in 2005, they have started brewing beer and selling those, which became “Shiga Kogen Beer”.

Also, apparently this region once produced hops to make beer until 1950s.

So using local pure water, locally grown hops with the knowledge and Sake making kind of started this beer.

Tamamura Honten Website (Unfortunately available only in Japanese)

tamamura-honten-1tamamura-honten-2

The Location 

It’s only 10 min walk from Shibu Onsen, up on the hill of Kutsuno, you can get to their main store.

First you will come across this brewery after walking a gentle uphill.

shiga-kogen-beer-brewery-1shiga-kogen-beer-brewery-2shiga-kogen-beer-brewery-3

You keep turn left on the street and go further 30m or so then you’ll find their main office/store/gallery on your right.

Once inside, you’ll find retail section, a bar counter, and the gallery upstairs.

tamamura-honten-bar-counter

They have Sake and Beer tasting. When I went there a pint of beer on tap was ¥648.

I tried their IPA, Indian Pale Ale, on tap and that was beautiful.

Where else do you find their beer?

As far as I have seen, there are numerous local restaurants and liquor stores around Yudanaka who stock this brand. It shouldn’t be too hard for you to find.

usually the bottle is for ¥600, which is reasonable for a craft beer I think.

They do have an online store too. However, they seem to have the Japanese site only and it will be a good challenge to navigate through for purchase if you don’t read the language.

Give me a private mail if you need help. See what I can do.

If you like fresh beer and the smell of brewery, 2 hours well spent!

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Biru Wa Oisii Desu ビールは美味しいです = Beer tastes good!

Who can argue with that! A Killer phrase to learn!

 

 

Ryuoo Ski Park 竜王スキーパーク

Ryuoo Ski Park Up Close

ryuoo-ski-park-main-building

Today’s Phrase

Ryuoo Ski Park 竜王スキーパーク = Pronounced as more like Liu-Oh

I know this is very hard for lots of people, but you gotta try!

 

What kind of mountain is Ryuoo?

This mountain/resort is made up with 2 parts.

Valley Area and Skyland Area.

And they are connected by Ropeway and Kiotoshi courses in between, being a very steep terrain only ideal for advanced skiers and snowboarders.

Also, Kiotoshi 木落し stands for “Tree Falling“, meaning “So steep that even trees fall off the face” (My translation)

Please be aware that these Kiotoshi courses tend to open up well into January due to the nature of the terrain hard to accumulate snow.

Valley Area – Lower part

ryuoo-v8-chairlift

6 Chailfts, wide open long trails, mostly gentle incline.

Along V2 Lift you have some more speed with steeper terrain.

There are some “Ungroomed” space left near V2 Lift and V10 Lift for you to enjoy some powder.

The Top part of Valley Area has V5 Lift with steeper runs, but they don’t seem to open early in the season.

The reasons being,

  1. Steeper so no groomer vehicle goes there
  2. Therefore in need of wait for the accumulation of enough natural snowfall for safety

Skyland Area – Upper Part

ryuoo-s1-chairlifttrees-with-snow

2 Chairlifts, 3 Trails

The view from the upper part, (The highest point being at around 1930m or over 6000 feet) Skyland Area is superb on a clear day.

Also being higher in altitude, the snow tends to be drier and softer than Valley Area most of the times.

At the same time the temperature is a lot colder than what it is at the lower part of the mountain so be prepared to get in colder climate.

Oh and quite often it’s in the clouds with lower visibility.

The terrain is definitely for beginners to intermediate.

There are 2 restaurants, right above the top ropeway station at at the very top of the mountain off S1 Lift so you have somewhere to rush in if it’s too cold for you.

At those restaurants, mainly you find Japanese food like Japanese curry and ramen and so on.

Some Useful Links

– Link to their English Website

– This is the link to one of my past related post Let’s go skiing!

The Location

Free Shuttle

They run every 1-1.5 hour between Yudanaka Station and Ryuoo Ski Park.

It only takes 15-20moin to get to the resort.

The first one top depart Yudanaka is just after 9am, the last one to depart Ryuoo is just after 5pm.

It departs from right in front of Yudanaka Station.

Lift Passes

Half Day: Morning 8am-1pm, Afternoon 12pm-5pm, Adult ¥3400, Kids (4 y/o to 12 y/o) ¥2200

1 Day: Adult ¥4500, Kids ¥2900

2 days: Adult ¥8000, Kids ¥5100

Rentals

Half Day: Morning 8am-1pm, Afternoon 12pm-5pm, same as the lift passes, Adult ¥3500, Kids ¥2000

1 Day: Adult ¥4000, Kids ¥2500

2 days: Adult ¥7500, Kids ¥4500

If you are staying in yudanaka, one idea is to go see the guys at Yudanaka Rental/Info Centre right behind Goen restaurant.

You can get yourself set up with gear even the day before you head up the mountain.

That’ll be a good time-saver for you to be prepared the day before, rather than rushing for everything in the morning, with a possibility of waiting if they get busy.

I hope you will enjoy your time up on this mountain, and snow too!

See you next time.

 

 

 

How to find Nagaden @ Nagano Station

Changing trains at Nagano Station to get to Yudanaka

Nagaden train at Yudanaka Station.jpg

It’s pretty simple.

If you’ve arrived at Nagano Station by one of those JR line, like Shinkansen=Bullet Train, head out to the Zenkouji Exit 善光寺口 first.

You should be able to find one of many signs pointing directions which way Zenkouji Exit is.

Once you found which way you need to go to, go downstairs then you’ll see these to your right.

 

There is a Starbucks and the bus terminal once outside on this side of the station.

Also, along the fence to the bus terminal to the right, you find,

A convenience store – Daily Yamazaki

A Soba Noodle Shop

Then go downstairs again then you’ll be at the entrance and ticket counter for Nagaden

Once you get here, it’s for ¥1260, just under an hour away to Yudanaka, the gateway to Snow Monkey.

From here to Yudanaka, you can refer to my previous post for more detail,

How to get to Yudanaka Part 3

I hope you can have a smooth transfer at Nagano Station!

See you next time!

Today’s Phrase

Michi Ni Mayor Mashita 道に迷いました = I’m lost

Hmm… Not ideal but you could be in this situation so listen and practise!