Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nagano Retreat

We recently went on a Foreigners Retreat to the Hakuba Valley in the Nagano Prefecture. There were little to no crowds since this area is primarily used in the winter for skiing, snowboarding, etc. We all stayed exclusively at the B&B Santana Hakuba which I would recommend to anyone visiting this area.

It was a relaxing time of playing cards, reading books and getting massages. Unless you are like me and decided at the last minute to go hiking in the mountains. First I made sure I had all of the essential gear...

- 1 pair of Converse shoes
- 1 messenger bag (with Kindle)
-  1 pair of jeans and 1 t-shirt
- 1 empty stomach
- 0 packed lunches
- 0 bottles of water
- 0 experience hiking trails

We left mid-morning and headed into the dense fog...

Navigation was a constant challenge.

But then we made it above the clouds and fog which made a world of difference.

So after 4 and a half hours of hiking, several blisters and a few plain flavored snow cones our group had reached the summit. This particular summit is 2007 meters (about 6500 feet). There was much rejoicing.

We made it down the mountain to enjoy a great barbeque that night!

The next day, on our return trip home, we made a detour to Matsumoto Castle. It was built in 1594 and is Japan's 2nd best castle.

It was very crowded and many of the stairways were built at ridiculous angles. But don't say they didn't warn you...

After visiting the castle it was time to head back to Ibaraki!