100910Yet another semi-clear morning, with blue skies and high clouds (and high temperatures).

We spent longer than normal deciding where to go today, but eventually we decided to head towards Toyama-ken.  We really, really wanted to go to Kurobe Dam, but it’s prohibitively expensive (up to ¥10,000 per person each way).  You have to take multiple combinations of buses, cable cars, trains etc etc.  The roads are shut to general traffic, sadly.  I say cash grab, but I can see the roads being overly congested and dangerous.  But, when they take money from you at every opportunity (right from the car parking), it’s hard to not take it personally.

The drive from where we stayed last night (just outside of Nozawa Onsen) to Matsumoto City took an incredibly long time.  The road was slow, tight, crowded and just generally unpleasant to drive on.  It just felt like we weren’t progressing, even though we were constantly driving.  Even though the driving was painful, the occasional old house/shop/warehouse were some eye-candy to make it almost tolerable.

We’ve been to Nagano City before, and Matsumoto City (three times actually), so we avoided them (and their traffic) as much as possible.  We eventually stopped at a buta-don restaurant in the outskirts of Matsumoto City for some lunch.  The shop was called Buta-san (Mr Pig), and pork was certainly their speciality.  We ordered a set that came with three pieces of katsu (fried pork), a bowl of rice and an extra bowl of miso soup (with added pork).  It was tasty, but it’s not the usual katsu that we were used to.  Generally it’s thick and juicy, but buta-san the katsu was thin and crispy.  Delicious, yes, but not what we’d expected.  To polish off the meal, we ordered a bowl of pork curry (¥50!!), and it was gooood!.

As we were leaving Matsumoto City, I had a weird sense of Déjà vu.  I couldn’t work out why, but the road seemed familiar.  It kept happening.  Eventually, I realised that I had driven on this road before.  Last summer after Fuji Rock, we did a quick tour of Honshu, and one of the places that we tried to visit was Kamikochi.  I say tried, because besides the weather being terrible, the final section of the road was closed to private cars.  The only way to enter was via a taxi or shuttle bus, and since the weather wasn’t great (and it was about 3PM) we didn’t bother and continued driving through to Fuji City.  However, the road was open to traffic heading East towards Takayama City (which we were).  An old, 20km long, windy toge (mountain pass) has been replaced by a 4km tunnel, saving us plenty of time, but for a few moments we were shocked as we saw the toll gates as we were exiting (luckily, there was no toll).


Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO7557While eating lunch, Risa found a few natural onsens kind of in the general direction that we were headed, so naturally, we made the detour.  The detour took us through two onsen towns, before finally coming to a river.  The onsen (koujin-no-yu) was by this river.  In the magazine, it had seemed to be completely natural.  Wasn’t the case.  It had been developed, and was basically a normal onsen, minus the facilities AND they were still expecting a ¥200 donation.  Anyway, it was nice enough, and certainly much cheaper than our other options (besides not bathing).


onsenWe watched the sun set from the river by the onsen, before retiring to the nearby michi-no-eki.  We’d originally planned to head to Takayama City, where we would go food shopping.  So, a little short of ingredients, we settled for a basic bowl of instant ramen.  And of course Dexter before bed.


今日も天気は、上々。でもまだ行き先を決めてない。 色々考えた末、富山県高山方面に行けるだけ行く事に。 黒部、立山などをみたかったけど、調べてみると、環境保護のマイカー規制の為、駐車場代、シャトルバス、ケーブルカー代などを合わせると¥8000位かかるらしい、、、これからの旅はまだまだ長ので、ここは涙をのんで断念。

野沢温泉から松本市までは、そう長くないはずなのに、道が狭く町中だった為かやたら時間がかかった。 途中、松本市で目についた“驚きの板カツ”の響きに惹かれ昼食をとる事に。 二人ともそこまでお腹は、すいてなかったので、半分こ。 でできたカツは、バラ肉を重ねた薄っぺらいカツとは、違うものだった。けど、とってもカリカリでしょうがみそっぽいたれが効いていて、野菜もたっぷりでとてもおいしかった☆そしてプラス¥50でまかないカレーが食べ放題だった!


松本から奥飛騨までの道の途中、ロスがデジャブだ。ここの道に覚えがある。と、、、ちょっとすると見覚えのあるかっぱの看板が! そうだここは、去年のフジロックの後で、5日間の強行ロードトリップで通った場所だ! 去年もそういえば上高地に行こうと思ったけど、時間もお金もなかったので断念したんだ、、、今日ももう4時近いしあえなく断念。

私たちが目指していた温泉は、上高地よりトンネルの峠をこえる。写真では、川のすぐ横で、水着で入り、川から行ったり来たりできるみたい。 しかし実際は、男女別の脱衣所があり、立派な囲いがあり川はまったく見えない。しかし広々とした岩風呂からは、山並みが見える☆ お湯は、無色透明でさらっとしている。 お湯は、少し水を足しながらで少し熱めのちょうど良い温度。 地元のおばさんとのお話もはずみ、気持ちよく、楽しい時間でした。管理人さんありがとう。

今晩は、近くの道の駅 奥飛騨温泉郷 上宝で車泊。札幌ナンバーがだんだん珍しく、外人と若いオンナのカップルも珍しいのでよくリタイヤ組のホリデー中のおじさま、おばさま方に声をかけてもらう☆一晩の隣人との交流もなかなか楽しい。