You guessed it The Goats Do Japan
Here’s the plan: • New uniforms • Exciting Nightlife – bars ,restaurants, karaoke • Yummy food • Dressing up – Yukatas • Great train rides – Skinkansen • Ancient culture – temples, gardens & geishas • Beautiful scenery • History – where it happened • Wildlife • Challenge # 1 and/or • Challenge # 2
Train Travel In Japan • Japanese rail services are among the best in the world: they are fast, frequent, clean and comfortable. The services range from small local lines to the shinkansen super-expresses or ‘bullet trains’ which have become a symbol of modern Japan. • The ‘national’ railway is Japan Railways (JR; www.japanrail.com), • There is more than 20, 000km of railway line and about 20, 000 services daily. • The fastest and best-known train services in Japan are JR’s shinkansen. The shinkansen reach speeds of up to 300km/h and some experimental models have gone significantly faster. In addition to being incredibly fast, shinkansen are also incredibly safe: in more than 30 years of operation, there has never been a fatality. • The service efficiency starts even before you board the train. Your ticket indicates your carriage and seat number, and platform signs indicate where you should stand for that carriage entrance. The train pulls in precisely to the scheduled minute and, sure enough, the carriage door you want is right beside where you’re standing. • On most shinkansen routes, there are two or three types of service: faster express services stopping at a limited number of stations, and slower local services stopping at all shinkansen stations. • There is no difference in fare with the exception of the super-express Nozomi service on the Tōkaidō/San-yō shinkansen line. There are, however, regular and Green Car (1st-class) carriages.
Hiroshima • Hiroshima was the first city to be destroyed by an atomic bomb on August 6, 1945. Every year millions of people visit the city to pay their respects to this massive destruction at the Peace Memorial Park and its museum. In stark contrast to its horrific past, Hiroshima is presently a city full of pretty rivers, tree-lined boulevards and attractive museums and art galleries. Located at the west end of the Seto Inland Sea, Hiroshima is a gateway for trips to numerous islands (more than 3,000 islands are located in the Seto Inland Sea, part of which are protected by the Inland Sea National Park) including Miyajima which is home to the world famous red shrine gate which guards Itsukushima Shrine. • If you go...It is only a 30 minute train ride from JR Hiroshima train station to Miyajima-guchi train station, and then a 10 minute ferry ride to Miyajima. Miyajima is gorgeous and the perfect destination to relax and unwind after you have visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park Museum. The island is full of temples and hiking trails, and it is also an excellent place to spend the night.
Challenge # 1:Skiing : Nozawa Onsen Village, Nagano, Japan. Offering a good mix of skiing, culture and food. The village is very small but has all we need, including a good range of Japanese restaurants serving fantastic food and wine. It also has a number of bars and a karaoke bar for those wanting to party late into the night.
Nozawa Onsen Review: Craig Walker: Is there a finer thing on this earth than soaking buck naked in a piping-hot (free) onsen after a long day of cutting turns on a first-rate ski hill? Not if you are staying at Nozawa Onsen. This ski hill is bursting at the seams with long runs, great snow and tremendous opportunities to blast through the trees (and bruise your ego). You would hard pressed to find a more charming apres-ski village anywhere in Japan, to boot. With thirteen public baths scattered throughout the village you will likely find at least one within minutes of your pension or hotel. The facilities are rudimentary, to be sure, but the unmistakable aroma of iron and sulphur just screams relaxation at you, and with some of the hottest baths outside of Kusatsu you'll be re-charged within minutes and warm enough to walk down the sake retailer who is likely giving out free samples streetside. Those with a taste for washoku won't be disappointed by the local fare, either, including the fabulous nozawa natto. Nozawa's streets are very steep and narrow, All in all, we just loved our stay at Nozawa. I cannot wait to go back.
Yudanaka & Jigokudani Yaenkoen : Snow Monkeys • Jigokudani Yaenkoen. You might not have heard that name but you have probably heard about a place in Nagano where you can see "snow monkeys" (Japanese Macaque) taking an onsen. • The Jigokudani Yaenkoen park opened in 1964 and since then many thousands of people from around the world have visited the park to observe the lifestyle of the Japanese Macaque. The Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata) is a monkey species native to northern Japan, and is the most northern-living non-human primate, surviving winter temperatures of below -15 °C. They have brown-gray fur, a red face, hands and bottom, and a short tail - and often seem remarkably human like. • In the wild they spend most of their time in forests and feed on seeds, buds, fruit, invertebrates, berries, leaves, and bark. The monkeys have a body length ranging from 80 to 95 cm. The males weigh around 10-14 kg while the females are usually around 5.5 kg. • The park is located in the Yokoyu River valley, which flows down from Shiga Kogen. At an elevation of 850 meters, the area is called Jigokudani ("Hell's Valley") due to the steep cliffs and hot water steaming out from the earth's surface. It's also a fairly harsh environment in winter with snow on the ground for a third of the year, but it is also a paradise for the couple of hundred monkeys that live there. We're lucky too, because we can enter their world and watch them enjoying themselves. Watching the monkeys play, take a leisurely onsen - or even swim in the onsen - is a lot of fun. All the time the monkeys basically just ignore their human watchers and just get on with whatever it is they want to be doing. • If you are in the area, a visit to see the monkeys of Jigokudani is highly recommended. • Jigokudani is located in Yamanouchi town, at the base of the Shiga Kogen region of Nagano.
“ Of all the ancient customs specific to Japan, the onsen is probably the easiest for a foreigner to join in. There are rituals involved but they are rudimentary: strip buck-naked, scour yourself clean and lower yourself into an indoor or outdoor bath of hot spring natural water.
Given that every part of this process is conducted in full view of vastly more experienced native bathers, whose language you do not speak and whose flesh does not turn a piggy tint of pink on contact with near- boiling volcanic liquid, many visitors might still prefer to try seppuku instead – the more archaic but slightly less mortifying act of suicide by self disembowelment.” Stephen Phelan – The Age , Sept 10 2009.