Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Chasing Sakura - Japan (14) - Shin-Hotaka & Hirayu

If you ask me, April is not a good month to go to Shin-Hotaka, unless you want to see snow.  Since I used to live in Chicago I have seen enough snow for the rest of my life...  Not only was it snowing, it was only -6 degrees Celsius!!!  Thank goodness I brought my fleece sweater with me.

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It was such a cloudy day... can't see much of anything
this was my "best" picture of the day
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breakfast of the day
so yummy~
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everything is still green and looks like Spring...
but I know... Winter is coming!
(sorry, I couldn't resist)
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in the middle of the bus ride... @.@
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It would be nice to go for a soak in the Hirayu Onsen
but our schedule is pretty tight so we passed.
(we tried to fit a two-day itinerary into one...)
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so pretty but also freezing cold

The best value ticket we found for Shin-Hotaka & Hirayu from Takayama is the 奥飛騨まるごと・バリューきっぷ.  This ticket is sold for JPY5,000 and includes a Takayama & Shin-Hotaka Two-Day Open Ticket (JPY4,000), a round-trip Shin-Hotaka Ropeway Ticket (JPY2,800), an onsen ticket to the アルプス街道平湯  in Hirayu (JPY300) and other discounts...  

The ones I found the most useful is the discounts to the onsens and a 10% off the bus ticket from Takayama to Shirakawago (JPY240)!  Although I couldn't take advantage of the discount this time as I came from Shirakawago to Takayama, I still find this ticket a great deal as the tickets will cost at least JPY7,100 if bought separate.  

The only tricky part about this ticket if you are not coming from Nagoya is that you will have to buy the ticket voucher using a Loppi machine at any Lawson in Japan.  Click here for a tutorial on how to use the machine.  (Sorry, it's in Chinese only.) Or you could do what I did - I gave a printout of the Japanese brochure to the staff at Lawson!  

Shin-Hotaka Ropeway
Click here for a walkthrough on how it works.
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We took the 8:40 am bus and arrived around 10:16 am
The Japanese's time management skill is something the world should learn from.
(You could also say that they are control freaks... but I mean it as a compliment here...)
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The ropeway schedule works seamlessly with the bus schedule.
Ropeway #1 leaves every '00 and '30
Ropeway #2 leaves every '15 and '45
A 15-minute lag time is for passengers to walk from one section to another.
It's these little things where you see the thought behind the schedule
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If you use the value ticket, you will have to exchange the voucher for tickets at the booth.
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It is quite a cloudy day so the visibility is not the best.
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can't see anything at all on Ropeway #2
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this is the open observation deck atop of Ropeway #2
although we didin't visit on a perfect day,
you could visualize how  gorgeous it will be on a fine day.
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Japan's highest post box!
Best place to mail out postcards to your loved ones~
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what you can do with an old hanger~
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seems like my iPhone takes better pictures this time~
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Top 5 souvenirs!
I don't see it posted in any other language...
I guess the Chinese people probably spent a fortune here.
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As we were appreciating the surroundings, we forgot we need to catch the return cable...
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You could hike downhill... but not me...
However, remember to register here so people will know you are in the mountain!
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This person hiked uphill! (/applause)
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but they are going down with us using the cable :)
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the sky seemed to clear up as we go down...
what a bummer!
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We enjoyed an onsen soak here
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Had the entire place all to ourselves!
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I love Japanese vending machines - there are always so many choices!
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hot and delicious!
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snack time
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onsen eggs are a must!
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Next stop - Hirayu
It's about a 30-minute ride from Shin-Hotaka
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the Hirayu onsen is first discovered by monkeys!
Apparently, Japanese monkeys must be really good at this
as I recalled the origins of many onsens in Japan are started by monkeys!
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We were starving!  Luckily, they have a food court at Hirayu.
(Everything at the Shin-Hotaka food court is sold out!)
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Yes... they sell food via a vending machine here.
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Hida-gyu Hobo Miso Set (JPY1,980)
I am maximizing my Hida beef experience~~~
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I love beef!
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My friends both got the chicken & mushroom hotpot set
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it's very delicious as well!
I am pleased by the quality of food at this little food court!
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Note:  if you see something you want, grab it!
we wondered around too long and then the shop is closed!
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I wanted to try this so bad!!! ~>.<~
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same thing happened to me when I walked by the Hida Gyu Man stall
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At least we got to enjoy the onsen here
not as nice as the one at Shinhotaka
in fact, there are many onsens in the area and they are much nicer
however, we didn't have the time or a car this time to explore :(

because of the rain and cold, I didn't go to the Hirayu waterfall >.<
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view from the onsen
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snow in April...
waiting to board the bus to return to Takayama
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foot soak
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The last bus leaves at 17:28.
We were so worried it won't show up as everybody else left!
Luckily, the bus stop attendant assured us the last bus did not leave yet... whew~
Taxi would have cost us JPY12,000!!!
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Finally back to Takayama!
We went to eat Hida-gyu for dinner again!
Click here for my post!
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Never miss a chance to indulge on a yummy Japanese desserts!
Off topic:  Don't think I will be able to finish the Japan series before I leave for my vacation this Friday (again!?) :P  I am off to Beijing / Inner Mongolia for 10 days!  So excited!!! Yet, I am not looking forward to flight delays and cancellation... (The airlines already told me my flights are delayed - seriously!?!? and yesterday's flight was cancelled... UNBELIEVABLE!!!  Don't fly with Hong Kong Airlines if you have a chance... they are cheap but it sure is a pain in the ___.)

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