Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Last family trip of summer 2013, Tateshina, Nagano!!!

Branden and Noah in Nagano, visiting with 2 horses. : ) We had such a fantastic time in Nagano, you guys. And I know I am super delayed getting this post up. But we just really wanted to enjoy our last week of summer. So I haven't been online so much. but now I have time to update. So where should I begin? How about the beginning of the trip, where I left off : ) Well, last week, we were all packed and ready to go, the MPV had a full tank of gas and we were ready. So, at 5:30am, we woke up. And we left the house at 6:30am. Last Tuesday August 27th.
Road trips are fun! We stopped at a rest stop a few times for bathroom/toilet breaks and this particular time we all stopped off for some ice cream. The boys in their comfy clothes.
Beautiful views!
When we started seeing lots of monkey signs and also deer signs we knew, that we were indeed in Nagano! : )
So here’s the plan/the run down. As many of you know, Noboru gets 4 or 5 night free stays at selected hotels throughout Japan, part of the perks for the company he works for. But in addition to that, his insurance group he belongs to, for his work. Owns actual condos across Japan also, and we can stay at these condos 12 times per year. On top of the 4 or 5 nights at the selected hotels too. So this time we booked a condo. We booked a condo for an overnight stay in Tateshina, Nagano. So that was the plan, Tateshina Nagano and also Karuizawa, Nagano also. Though the Karuizawa part, was just for sight seeing on our way back to Chiba though. : ) The majority of our stay and time would be spent in Tateshina.
Around 11am, we stopped for lunch in Saku.
Tateshina was our goal! : )
We went to Cocoichi curry. And we smiled when we saw a local curry, that was offered, cute. : )
All 4 of us, ate a lot and were stuffed from lunch and were on our way to driving to get to our destination. However, Noboru suggested we find a supermarket in Saku, first to get some drinks for the room for later that night. I agreed. : )
Seiyu just happened to be closest to the curry shop. So that's where we went.
A dear friend had emailed me a month ago? To info share and tell me, Seiyu had Betty Crocker on sale. I thanked her for the info. I love getting info share type stuff like that. Very appreciated. I was a little sad though...but only because I don't live anywhere even remotely near a Seiyu. So just my luck to be near one. Yay! : ) I didn't buy a whole lot though. I just bought 4 blueberry muffin mixes and that's it. However that 2 for 300 yen deal is a good one! Thanks for the info Kelsey. : )
There were/are some very populated cities. But also some very very small towns and villages also. This was Saku, pretty modern looking. Very nice. : )
The endless sweet potatoes reminded us a lot of where we live, minus the mountains in the distance. : )
The endless rice fields reminded us a bit of home also, but again minus the beautiful mountain back drop. : )
In winter you need chains or snow tires. Growing up, in Colorado we are used to seeing similar signs in our mountains. : ) Not sure if you can make out the sign it says 24 degrees C. Which for us Americans that's a very nice and mellow 75 degrees F. The weather was awesome!
Again Aspen trees are famous in Colorado. Ever hear of Aspen, Colorado? : ) While in Nagano we drove by, Shirakaba Lake, which shirakaba means aspen (trees), needless to say we saw many many aspen trees. They were plentiful.
For the car ride, the boys dressed comfortably in sweatpants and for comfort mainly, but before we stopped for lunch they switched to regular clothes. By now we were in Tateshina and we stopped along the way to say, "howdy" to some horses. : )
Horses in the distance and you can see some scatterings of a small city in the distance also.
I love this picture! They didn't even know, I was taking it! I zoomed up to take it and was actually standing far-ish away. Noah just absolutely adores his dad! Here he is just chit chattering to Noboru. And Noboru equally chit chatting right back. He loves both our sons so much. : )
I told the boys, do whatever you want, I'm going to take 2 pictures and do whatever you want, make a face, do whatever...entirely up to you though! And here's what these 2 silly boys did! Picture #1, right here. : )
Picture #2, right here. These silly boys! : )
Okay so we arrived! Yay! We were happy to arrive. It is indeed a private resort. Some people own condos/a room here. And some people work for companies who own a room. Noboru's insurance group owns 3 rooms here at this particular place.
And with the zoom off. Lots of greenery.
And on the other side of the gate is where we were headed. After being in the car for those many hours, it was nice to arrive.
Two very happy boys. : ) When we parked our car, men wearing the coolest uniforms. The guys were wearing plaid half pants. I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of them.
The lobby was very big. Everyone was very nice.
The Denver Broncos. : )
Heading to our room.
The tatami room.
Sink area.
Door on the left of the sink area, is the toilet
Door on the right is the tub and shower room.
Beds.
Balcony, we kept the windows open up until we went to sleep, but for the most part we enjoyed the nice breeze. Plus the screens were super and kept out any horse flies or flying insects.
Noboru smartly putting our drinks from Seiyu in the fridge.
Living room.
Yep we opened the windows as you can see.
TV in here. Nice wooden floor hallway, I think you can see a pinch of it in this pic.
I went out on the balcony.
A sweet treat was waiting for us all. Though, I didn't have mine and Noboru didn't have his either, so the boys had 2 each. ; )
The hallways inside.
There were at least 4 golf carts. And they could drive you to your car, show the condo grounds, they're huge the grounds or...they were just at your service, so to speak. A very nice place. However we prefer walk. : ) We're just not shishipoo poo/fancy shmancy type people and we like to walk or drive ourselves just fine. However they couldn't be lovelier though and we'll be back for sures.  : )
The grape seat, I thought was neat! Oh, hey I just made a rhyme, not on purpose ,btw. : )
Us walking to our car! They even double asked us...are you sure you wouldn't prefer a ride to your car, with a cart? Naw, nope, thanks for asking but we're A-okay. A walk will do us some good. : ) So they smiled and waved and we walked to our car. : )  By the next day when we left, the staff really dug us! : ) 
We drove to the lake. To ride a swan boat! And here we walked by....many a bicycle made for two! : )
Hi Noah! : )
Decisions, decisions. Should we go for the swans with tiny fez hats? Or go for the swans with bow ties? We left it up to the boys to decide.
They went with the ones with the...bow tie! ; )
Hi boys! : ) And you know what, Noboru and I decided since we usually are the drivers and takers of places. Let's let the boys drive us around. So we hopped in the back seat and let the boys paddle and steer. And we sat in the backseat, we took a load off and just relaxed. The boys meanwhile loved the idea! They took us all over the lake. They did all the paddling. It was 700 or 800 yen for 30 minutes.
They also went for a drive! 3 laps for 500 yen. Summer was coming to a close. And we figured, why not! : )
Big smiles!
After the swan paddling boats and the boys driving a car. We decided to leave Tateshina and head to the city at the bottom of the mountain which is Chino city. And have some dinner. Also, Tateshina is a small little town on a mountain, but it is funny/interesting to know, fwiw the town we come from in Chiba is technically smaller population wise. Tateshina is a town according to Wiki, with a population of 8,492. Where our town is just under 5,000. So yeah we do come from a very rural town. : ) Chino city has a population of 56,082. Which is quite small for a city, but again just to give you an idea. The small city Branden and Noah went to yochien in, since our  town is too small for a yochien, has a population even smaller then Chino City, and the small city Branden and Noah went to school in, has a population of 47,230. Anyway just in case anyone finds it interesting that we come from an actually less populated area. Hahaha. But and however it was still gorgeous and stunning. And we did enjoy our stay very much. Heading to Chino city for some dinner.
We went to Saizeriya. Good and cheap Italian. The prices are fantastic here and the drink bar is nice. We all enjoyed some salad, and we had pizza and pasta also.
About to head back up the mountain. But reception is iffy at best. I quickly checked the weather and if you see the nights expected lows for Chino City, 59 degrees. F. And keep in mind it was cooler up the mountain. So it was a bit cooler there also. Yeah I would agree, it did dip down to 59 degrees no doubt.  Also while we were driving up the road near our condo we saw 2 deer grazing. They literally stopped like a "deer in headlights" and us too. Hahaha. We stared at them, they stared at us, and then they trotted off.
Let us in, please! : ) Anyway...the lights were so pretty at night.
We ate, we were stuffed and were back in our room. We now headed downstairs to the onsen. The 3 of them went to the guys side. And I pulled my hair up into a pony tail and then bun. And showered and washed my face and body really well and then I walked (naked, everyone was) outside and sat in the open air tub (rotenburo) and I watched the stars twinkling in the summer sky. It was really dropping in temperature by now. I chatted with 1 mom with 2 toddlers in the rotenburo. One, 30-ish lady with no kids, perhaps she has sons too, I wondered. :  ) But mostly I just enjoyed the scenery, all the trees and nature and stuff. The night sky and the quiet. You can really enjoy the stars in Nagano, I thought, while soaking. I do not think I can see them as clearly as I did while in Nagano.  I also wondered if the deer family could possibly cruise by me, and then I thought probably not with the gate and all. Hahaha. : ) Hmm, I guess I sure thought a lot of weird stuff while soaking. : )  We had planned to meet in 1 hour in the lobby near the onsen area. By now I can tell it was getting close, so I got out and walked inside and sat down and shampoo and conditioned my hair and washed my body off again, then I went and got dressed.
After the onsen snacks. I bought all 3 in Chiba near our house except the cheesecake Pocky we bought at Seiyu.
Noboru had a Fall, limited edition beer.
Two squeaky clean boys in their jammies watching TV and eating sour cream and onion chips.
Noboru relaxing watching TV.
We watched a good TV show. I was in my night gown/sleep T. And a pony tail, freshly blow dried hair. Gee we watched TV until we were all ready for sleep.
I opened my covers and what nice crisp and clean sheets. I could barely wait to jump into bed and go to sleep, except I wanted to take a peek on the boys real quick first.
Zonked out to the world. Sweet dreams kids. : )
Noboru and the boys went to enjoy a soak in the onsen the next morning. Meanwhile I got my makeup on, hair done and dressed. By the time they came back from their morning soak, I was ready for breakfast and so were they. : ) We went to breakfast downstairs. It was a buffet. I had fresh fruit, fresh bread and croissants baked on site and an omelet.
Noah had croissants and Cocoa Krispies. : )
We walked around the condo grounds a bit after breakfast.
And leaving. And yes those 2 people do stand by the door and are ready to help you, their customer service was awesome. : ) Bye you guys, and thank you and yes we will come back. : )
Hi Noah, Hi Branden!
Deer crossing. No kidding, they are definitely around. : )
Omiyage. Time to buy a present for, the grandma next door and Ayumi-chan's family. Remember, the grandma next door went to Izu and brought us back something and then Ayumi-chan's dad went to the US and brought us back some fish. Nagano is famous for apples. So we walked around this shop looking for something good for them. We decided on this handmade apple pie.
See that little bird house looking thing near the road? There was salt stops and spots all along the roads we drove. Some looked like this and some looked metal and box shaped. But they all are pretty much... very appreciated come winter. : )
A small-ish city, but wow that mountain view. So pretty! : )
There were many rivers and streams. Even near the condo we stayed at, there was a little stream and we could hear running water. Just really nice.
Now we were in Karuizawa. First we walked on the popular walking road in Karuizawa first. Very touristy of us. : ) And then we went to the outlets in Karuizawa. Again thinking about Fall and upcoming winter. 60% off sales. And stuff. We were looking for long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts. They had no long sleeve tops but they did have the sweatshirts. Noah got 3 Gap sweatshirts in size 140cm (the 130cm which is Noah's real/regular size were freakishly small, even on him and he's a skinny kiddo and average height/not overly tall or overly short). However in size 160cm, which is Branden's regular size, there were few and less choices... all sold out maybe. But Branden picked 2 sweatshirts, but to be fair, he also got a brand new pair of swim trunks for swim club, also at the outlet in Karuizawa at a sports shop, a pair he really loves. And those swim trunks were the price of 2 Gap sweatshirts put together (and no not complaining at all, we'd never : ) , plus he needed them and they are a great brand for swimmers and so worth it), lol, so Branden did do pretty okay. And he was REALLY happy with his swim trunks and his 2 sweatshirts. Both boys were happy with what they got. : ) And again just slowly getting the boys ready for the Fall.
Hi Noah! And Noboru holding 5 Gap sweatshirts in the Gap bag. Hahaha. : )  Heck that bag was heavy. : )
Nagano is such a pretty place. The views. Those mountains! : ) The summer weather was so nice.
In Karuizawa after shopping for the boys, we stopped for lunch. Pizza and pasta again? Yes! It was unintentional though  : ) We were not planning on it, but as we drove around Karuizawa, when we first arrived before hitting the outlets...we had started to think about what to have for lunch....and by gosh, we saw so many Italian restaurants with the words...pizza and pasta. The boys would read the signs and say, "another pizza and pasta sign again." : ) While we were driving around trying to think of what to eat for lunch and also make our way to the outlets. Okay not really subliminal mind messages or anything... but by the time we had seen about 10 restaurants with similar signs we said, yeah, that's a good idea, let's just do that! Let's eat Italian again. : )
They had a nice brick pizza oven. And the crust was so crisp.
Branden so happy about his swim trunks he held the bag and you can see it right next to his arm. Also to be fair we were still on foot and this part attached to the outlets so we hadn't reach our car yet anyway to drop the bags off yet anyway. : )
Spicy garlic tomato pasta.
We did not take the highway back to Chiba we drove the regular roads. We were in no rush and thought it would be more scenic. This is a pretty popular bridge see the people walking on foot and even that man on motorcycle had stopped to see it, in this picture. So many people wanted a picture of this very bridge!
We stopped for supper along the way. The Ohsho (delicious Chinese restaurant) And we also stopped at a supermarket and bought a few more ice cold drinks for the boys. And we also made a Starbucks run during our drive also. So yeah we enjoyed the scenic regular roads. Again for info wise (fwiw), for those of you not living in Japan, in Japan once you're on the highway, you can't get off and on so freely because you pay to use the highway. 2,000 yen to 10,000 yen type prices, but it varies.  Price depends, on time of day you got on or off and distance, you know... that type of thing. So you can't really just jump off the highway and pop back on like how we do in the US. So, yeah it was perfect for us to take the highway to Nagano because we were wanting to be there as quickly as possible. However us taking the regular roads back to Chiba passing all those different prefectures along the way, since we weren't in any rush, it was fine for us to drive the regular roads so we could take our time and stop and whatnot along the way.
Noah having a snack and watching a movie. Our MPV has a DVD player that plays Japanese region dvd's. That comes out of the roof of the car, however they also have 2 American DVD players, 1 per each seat and they can enjoy the American region DVD's and we have more American DVD's.  : )
Omiyage, gift for our 2 neighbors. The grandma next door and Ayumi-chan's family and we also always buy one for our family also. Anyway, that was our family's summer Nagano trip 2013!