Japan Alps

POSTED BY DANNY CHOO On Mon 2013/09/30 16:22 JST in Places to visit in Japan
The Japanese Alps consist of the Northern, Central and Southern Alps. We spent a couple of days in the Nagano Prefecture visiting the Senjojiki Cirque at the Japanese Central Alps which is said to have been crafted over 20000 years by ice glaciers.
The kanji naming "Senjojiki" literally means "1000 tatami mats" which expresses the vast area of the cirque.
Senjojiki Cirque is located about 250 kilometers to the West of Tokyo by car - if you was going then you would punch in this address into the car navigation.
If you are travelling by public transport then check out this page which shows you how to get to the Komagatake Ropeway.
While the Tokyo metropolis is cool, its nice to get out from the hustle n bustle from time to time to enjoy Japan's nature too.
Today's photos cover our journey to and from Nagano.
Wifey drives while I try to muster as much time as possible to work - what you see on the screen is what I'm working on right now.
Speaking of which...
Stopping by a service area at Lake Suwako.
The larger service areas in Japan are pretty cool - filled with nourishments, local souvenirs and stuff that travellers may need on their trip. More about Japanese service areas in this post.
Much of the souvenirs in a service area are snacks that you can only get in that area - usually made from produce from the local farms.
I always check out the Gacha to see if there is anything 1/3 scale for my girls - but you never know until you actually buy and most of the time they end up being too big or too small ><
Looks like the Nagano prefecture has their own moe character mascots.
Loads of moe merchandise of their characters too.
Closer towards our destination we find a local supermarket to pick up some groceries to cook in our cabin.
Presentation of food is important in Japan - I've only seen veggies wrapped up like this over here. These ones are American produce though.
I used to like Kiwi when I was younger - now it tastes too sour. Probably my taste buds going stale as I get older ToT
Our evening catch.
Some Fujiko bath salts by Bandai.
Late lunch.
My fave ramen is Shio (salt) - nice n simple.
Arrival at our cabin which is good enough for about 5 people. It cost 19000 yen for a night and comes complete with pretty much everything you need for a nights stay.
The address of the cabin village is
23-170 Akaho, Komagane City, Nagano-ken 399-4117 Japan
And the phone number is 0265-83-7227 - call them up if you want to make a booking and pay when you get there.
This is the kitchen that includes pots n pans, plates n cups, rice cooker, microwave and wot not.
The main cabin area. Ashtray included as the majority of parents seem to smoke. The ladder leads up to...
The second floor where the futon are - 5 in total. Includes pillows and blankets.
And this is what the view looks like from the 2nd floor.
That evening we head to a hot spring. While the Xperia Z1 is waterproof, I didn't fancy dipping it in hot water to see if it would work meaning that I didn't take any photos inside ^^;
Not that you wanted to see photos of men in birthday suits - or did you?
Traditionally, Japanese folks drink milk after a dip in a hot spring which is why you would usually find a vending machine with little jars of milk inside it.
Next morning - the view from our cabin.
Mirai-chan wants some photos of her taken ^^
Mirai's apparel line is tailored by doll seamstress Chun whose work is just amazing.
I'm looking for more seamstresses to work with my team - if you can produce the same quality pattern cutting and stitching then drop me a line at jobs at mirai dot fm.
New pedokuma rucksack for Mirai-chan ^^; Perfect for all 1/3 scale dolls.
If you want one then they got them at Amazon for 1170 yen.
I developed the outer shell of Mirai first and am now working on 2 versions of the insides - the robotic android version and a standard frame version.
During this time it feels like a parent waiting to give their kid a transplant as the frame shes got right now is just a prototype and very flimsy ;-;
My lack of regular updates is because I'm working flat out on production of my new line of dolls - I don't have a project manager right now so it means that I need to oversee everything from design, molding, manufacture, logistics and wot not.
The standard frame (non robotic) version will be out soon but I need to think of a name for it - "Not-So-Smart-Doll" don't sound too good for a product ^^
After calling out on Facebook, folks came up with some ideas such as:-
  • Vanilla Mirai
  • Baka Doll
  • Classic Frame
  • Mirai fail exam paper ver.
  • Mirai Doll
  • Mirai doll budget under control version.
  • Fap Doll
While you can get canned drinks from a vending machine, you can also get it mixed fresh in a cup - fresh from power.
All checked out and now off to explore passing through the rice paddys of Nagano.
If you do get the chance then rent a car so that you can really explore.
I hear from many readers that they have been able to rent cars - do leave info in the comments for your fellow gaijins about your car rental experience.
During this time of year at the end of September, the temperature has cooled down a lot. In Nagano, it will be hot in the sun but cool in the shade - while on the mountains it will be cold in the shade.
Trying out some baws poses.
The best part of my job - I get to meet and connect with folks from all over the world through this website and my TV shows ;-;
Houses out here are roughly a 3rd of the price of the ones in my neck of the woods in Tokyo. The ones here are also 3 times bigger ^^
Dropping by a convenient store to pick up snacks. See anything you like?
We need to park and then take a 30 min bus ride to the Komagatake Ropeway which then takes us to the highest station in Japan called Senjojiki.
Timetable and pricing in English here.
Take your passport to get a discount.
Be careful when you get to the top because it slips.
Once you reach Senjojiki station, you are treated to a fab view above the clouds.
Depending on the day, clouds will whisk by you.
We were lucky that we had a mix of clouds meaning that we could enjoy the view and enjoy the clouds too.
I heard that some people who have been before went on days where it was completely covered in cloud meaning that you don't really see much apart from your feet ^^
Had a haircut when I got back to Japan - turned out to be a bowl haircut ><
Hopefully should fix itself by the time to head over to Malaysia and Singapore again at the end of this month.
Looks like some folks spotted my bowl haircut.
By the time we get to the top we would be 2000 meters above sea level. No cable car though as the rest in on foot.
The Chuo Alps website shows you what this area looks like depending on the season that you are visiting.
Heading towards the hiking point.
Senjojiki Cirque is called "Senjojiki Kaaru" in Japanese.
Probably doesn't look like much from the photo but its quite a hike to the top. I think it took us 2 hours (?) to get to the top pausing for short breaks.
The course is open in the Winter too - if you are going in the snowy season then make sure you bring the appropriate gear.
A load of Monkeys on the cirque. Some of them are known to grab food from humans while some would leave some poo for you to look at - if you lucky then they will throw it at you too.
We didn't know what we was in for so didn't really have the proper footwear for climbing. Its not that tough to get to the top though - just constantly watch the ground all the time or you will end up with a twisted ankle.
We saw a girl in high heels who managed to make it to the top ^^
Boss level very high - a chap carries his daughter to the top and back down.
Gorgeous views.
And this is what it looks like at the top of the cirque. There is more to explore from this end though but would have taken a few more hours.
It was actually more tiring heading back down for some reason ><
Reached the bottom all knackered - time to get some grub and head back to Tokyo.
Some traditional Japanese gourmet in the area - I go for Ikura Don.
Apparently this area is renowned for its Beef Katsu.
Driving back to Tokyo, we stop off at another service area to deposit some minerals and check out the snacks.
I'm guessing the milk here must be very very good at 1000 yen per bottle (about 10USD).
Most of the larger service areas will have a food court like this one.
Food sells better when its got moe girlies on it.
Back in Tokyo Metropolis - another 10 kilos to go before reaching base.
Passing through Harajuku. Still got a load of photos to post of places to visit in Japan but for the meantime check out what's available so far listed up below.