長野流のGW Golden Week – Nagano Style

皆さん、ハッピーゴールデンウィーク!

あれっ、ハッピーじゃないって?まあ、確かに、連休でどこへ行っても混みますよね。

長野県こそ、松本城や軽井沢の様なメージャーな観光スポット、

そして、佐久の気球フェスティバルや飯山の菜の花畑の様な大きいイベントは混む。特に、今年は七年に一度の善光寺「御開帳」が偉い人数でしょう。

しかし、あきらめないで。長野県は穴場的な隠れ宝が沢山あります。静かな信州が連休の最中でも十分楽しめます。

一つな裏コースを紹介します。娘と白馬方面へドライブした時。

Happy Golden Week, everyone.

Or is it?  With practically everyone and her brother having the week off, it seems wherever you go there will be crowds, crowds, and still more crowds.

Here in Nagano, the major attractions such as Matsumoto Castle, the Utsukushigahara ridge drive, the resort town of Karuizawa etc. also tend to be jam-packed during peak holidays.  And the many major events taking place in Nagano during Golden Week, such as the hot air balloon festival in Saku, the rape blossom festival in Iiyama and, especially, the once-every-seven-years Gokaicho at Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City, will likely draw hordes of visitors.

Don’t despair — the prefecture has plenty of off-the-beaten-path places and simple, local events to enjoy in a quiet, Nagano-like fashion.

As but one example of how to enjoy Golden Week Nagano-style, here is what my daughter and I found on a drive to the Hakuba area.

先ずは白馬村の南にある青木湖に行ってみた。桜が咲き、背景の白馬連峰の雪が残り、青空遠い湖で素晴らしい景色。本当は時間があったらカヤックに乗りたかった。

First, we stopped at Aoki Lake just south of Hakuba Village.  The Northern Alps were still covered in snow which contrasted brilliantly with the deep blue color of the sky and the lake.  The cherry trees were still in bloom, adding a spash of reddish-pink to the scene.

Aoki Lake with the Snow-capped Hakuba Range in the Distance

Aoki Lake with the Snow-capped Hakuba Range in the Distance 青木湖と雪景色の白馬連峰

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湖の西側に千国街道が通ります。昔の塩の道で、GWの連休でその記念で三日間をかけて歩く塩の道祭りが行われる。江戸時代の行列が復元される。

The old ‘Chikuni-Kaido’ trail passes on the west side of the lake.  This ancient path used to be known as the Salt Road by which mountainous Nagano got its salt from the sea.  Every year for three days during Golden Week, a special event is held to commemorate the trail’s history.  Participants walk along the trail, one section each day, many in period costume.

青木湖の西側に通る千国街道。塩の道祭りがここを通る。 Chikuni Trail along the west side of Aoki Lake.  The Salt Road Festival procession passes along here.

青木湖の西側に通る千国街道。塩の道祭りがここを通る。
Chikuni Trail along the west side of Aoki Lake. The Salt Road Festival procession passes along here.

湖の東側にゼーブリックと言うラーメン屋さんがある。ログハウスの中の店で薪ストーブがあって、落ち着く風情。湖も眺めれて、良い所。チャーシューラーメンを頂いたが、あんな部厚いチャーシューは初めてだった。次回には味噌ラーメンかカレーライスが美味しそうだった。連休でお店が賑やかだったが、上の県道沿いの店の全部は人が並んでいました。

While at Aoki Lake, we stopped for lunch at Seebrick, a ramen shop in a quaint log cabin located along the old lane on the lake’s east side.  We tried the soysauce based ramen, mine with the extra charshu pork (the thickest slices I’ve ever seen!).  The miso based version as well as the curry rice menu options looked enticing, too.  The restaurant was busy, but not nearly as much as the restaurants we passed on the main highway.

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Seebrick's woodstove ゼーブリックの薪ストーブ

Seebrick’s woodstove
ゼーブリックの薪ストーブ

昼ごはんの後は、「温泉に入ろう!」との事で、白馬村の中心にあるみみずくの湯に入りました。選んだポイントは内風呂及び露天風呂からは白馬連峰が見える事。最高の景色だった。そして、お湯はpHが11.6って、日本最高です。娘と二人で肌がすべすべになって、驚いた。透明と無色だが、その美肌効果が素晴らしい。

After lunch, it was time for a soak in an onsen bath.  Since the sky was so clear and the snow-capped Alps were so blazingly beautiful, we opted for Mimizuku no Yu in the center of Hakuba Village.  The baths, both the indoor ones as well as the open-air outdoor ones,  feature a stunning view of the Hakuba Range.  The onsen water source is Hakuba Happone, and has a pH of 11.6 — possibly the highest in all of Japan.  We were surprised how silky smooth it made our skin feel.  The onsen water is clear and doesn’t have any smell, but the view and the beautifying effect of the water are both outstanding.

みみずくの湯 Mimizuku no Yu Onsen Bathhouse

 

みみずくの湯の外観 Mimizuku no Yu's Facade

みみずくの湯の外観
Mimizuku no Yu’s Facade

みみずの湯の露天風呂から見える山景色 The View of the Hakuba Range from Mimizuku no Yu's Outdoor Bath

みみずの湯の露天風呂から見える山景色
The View of the Hakuba Range from Mimizuku no Yu’s Outdoor Bath

 

帰りの道でオリンピック道路を走ったが、途中で鬼無里への道があった。そう言えば、鬼無里はこの連休で祭りがある。細かい手彫りの飾りの山車が特徴だそうです。今年は三味線の演奏も。地元の皆の為のイベントで観光客はあまり来ないけど、だからこそ信州の田舎の良さを味わえる.

On the way back towards Nagano City along the Olympic Highway, we passed the road that heads to Kinasa.  This hamlet tucked in the hills above Nagano holds a very local, non-touristy festival during Golden Week involving some ornately-carved ‘dashi’ parade floats.  This year’s festival featured some shamisen entertainment.  This is the type of event that best showcases Nagano’s rural charm — and without crowds!

 

鬼無里の祭りのチラシ Flyer for Kinasa's Festival

鬼無里の祭りのチラシ
Flyer for Kinasa’s Festival

このGWの連休は是非に信州の裏道へ

So, enjoy Golden Week by coming to Nagano and exploring the countryside of Japan!

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