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Ideas for your free time - Yudanaka and Obuse
Yudanaka is an onsen town surrounded by the Shiga Kogan mountain range. This region is fantastic for walking, hiking, cycling, visiting the famous 'snow monkeys' as well as Obuse, a charming town full or art, museums and small boutiques.
Accessed via Nagano, Yudanaka sits in the Shiga Kogan Mountain range. A famous area for skiing, this region is a brilliant option year round due to its striking scenery, sleepy onsen towns and of course the Japanese macaques. What we like most about Yudanaka and the surrounding towns is that visitors get a glimpse into a very real and remote part of Japan that can easily be explored at your own leisure. It is also the perfect place to experience a traditional onsen ryokan, a must do in Japan. We'll provide with a detailed guide to Yudanaka before you travel, but here are some ideas for your free time to get you started.
Depending on how long you have, and how energetic you feel we would recommend starting at Jigokudani, it's here that Japanese macaques have learned to bath in the bubbling hot spring waters. The 'snow monkeys' are generally found there year round, but they tend to only bathe during the winter months when it's cold. You'll often find them playing on the grass in the spring and summer months with their new born babies. Depending on where you are staying (in Yudanaka or Shibu Onsen) it's a short bus, walk or taxi ride to Jigokudani - so just ask your hosts.
If you are active we highly recommend hiring bikes from Jigokudani and cycling back to Yudanaka. There are several routes that take you through villages, farms, apple orchids and forests. The routes are mostly all down hill, apart from a short steep ride at the beginning. You can also stop off at Obuse en route - one of our favourite small towns. Obuse was the famous retirement home of Hokusai, one of Japan's most renowned artists who created 'The Wave' - arguably of the most recognised pictures globally. Spend time here exploring the boutiques, cafes, temples (Ganshoin is a must see), sake breweries and museums (there is the very good Hokusai museum). The route also passes through Shibu Onsen, a beautiful riverside town with dozens of traditional onsens. On arrival back into Yudanaka, enjoy a drink at GOEN, a small cafe and here you can leave your bikes. Please ask your specialist for more information.
For those that don't fancy cycling you can very easily catch the train between Yudanaka and Obuse. In your guide you will find several suggestions of things to do in Obuse.
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