Kurobe Gorge Adventure

Everytime I see this Japan adevertisement of a train running on a red track across the river with a beautiful nature all around, I feel like dropping everything and find that place.

For this summer, I decided to go to Toyama but I had no idea where to go. A few days before vacation starts , I searched for places to visit which does not cost a fortune.

I found Trini Traveller’s blog and I got the information and booked my train ticket to go to my next adventure 🙂

I prebooked my ticket for the train here (Sorry only Japanese). The round trip ticket costs : 3,420 yen.

The Kurobe Torokko Electric Train starts from Unazuki Station (宇奈月駅) and since I stayed in Toyama area, I need to take another train to Unazuki Onsen Station which is about 1 hour 30 minutes and cost 1840 yen , one way. From Unazuki Onsen Station, it’s about 3 minutes walk to Unazuki Station.

I totally forgot that tourist places like this always have some kind of free pass and  unfortunately I noticed it on my way back. The ticket cost 2,500 yen for Summer and 2,000 yen during Winter.

So let’s start the tour.
Unazuki Station. It was pouring when I got to the station.I arrived an hour before my scheduled train departs so that I can check out around the station and get some breakfast and maybe find a manhole cover. Train Schedule. You cannot just get  on the train.
Their is no assigned seats, so if you want a good one, you need to line up early. My train is next (10:03) so I`m lining up already. Once people go in, they would run to the train so make sure to move fast.

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From the second floor of the station, there is an observation area and you can see the Shin-Yamabiko (Moutain Echo Spirit) bridge where the train will cross it. It was called yamabiko by the fact that the sound of the train passing by echoes in the hot spring town.

Unazuki Dam Once we crossed Yamabiko bridge, we saw Unazuki Dam which is the newest dam in Kurobe Gorge area and was completed last 2001. Shin Yanagawara Hydro- Electric Power plant
Next we passed by a tower but actually a Hydro-Electric Power Plan (Shin Yanagawara)

Suspension bridge for Monkeys

Next is a Suspension Bridge hanging 15 meters over the lake and was specially made for monkeys to be able to traverse one shore to the other.

Hotokeishi (Stone Buddha) Hotokeishi (Stone Buddha). It not man-made but a natural rock formation that bears an uncanny resemblance to the stone Buddha. Another hanging bridge
Another hanging bridge, looks like it`s for human. It would cool and scary to be able to cross it.

to the tunnel we go Leaving Kuronagi Station and about to cross the last part of Atobiki Bridge before entering the tunnel. What is under the bridge ?
What`s under the bridge? Water 🙂 You can clearly see the bottom. The train is open so it`s exhilarating.

Dashidaira Dam We arrived in Daishidaira Dam. Untitled
Would love to stop the train and enjoy the beauty of the place.

We made a short stop and Dashidaira Station while the train going back to Unazaki arrives
Not out train :)

Misty River We passed by this lake with mist all around it. It feels like I`m in some kind of fantasy land. Approaching Kanetsuri Station
Approaching Kanetsuri Station. You can also stop at Kanetsuri Station, it is one stop before Keyakidaira(Last stop). I did not have time to explore and actually did not have much information on tickets so I stayed with my original plan and checkout Keyakidaira first.

Last stop : Keyakidaira Welcome to Keyakidaira. Now, before I boarded the train, their was an announcement that the rain is still pouring so having a rain coat is advisable, so I got one. As soon as my train left the station it stopped, so I did not need the rain coat at all. But as soon as I arrived in Keyakidaira, it poured again. My umbrella was enough though, but the raincoat helped protecting my bag 🙂 I have about 3 hours to explore the place before my return train. So let’s start exploring around Keyakidaira station. First stop is Okukane Bridge. It is 34-meters high above the river and has a really nice view of the river and the surrounding place. Like this : Keyakidaira Station from afar

Okukane Bridge Let’s cross the bridge. After crossing the bridge, you will reach Hitokui Cave Hitokui Iwa (People Eating Crag)

Some view while walking up
Untitled My next way is Sarutobi Gorge The route to Sarurobikyo (Monkey Jumping Gorge)
But before you can reach it , you need to walk into this tunnel.

View around Sarutobikyo Almost there.The kanji mean, Monkey Jump. I heard one of the maintenance worker explaining to a guest, that since a Monkey jump into the gorge, it has been called Monkey Jumping Gorge. It’s an observation platform with a great view. View around Sarutobikyo

View around Sarutobikyo

The rain started again and decided to grab some coffee and noticed that there is a free access to the rooftop and had an amazing view of the whole place
View of Okukane Bridge//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

On the way back, I was seating in the opposite side of the train and was able to see this aqueduct
Aqueduct//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

It was a nice adventure. I’m pretty sure this place will be very scenic during the autumn.
During the winter season, they close the railroad.
So if you are around Takayama area, I highly recommend visiting Kurobe Gorge and enjoy the view.

One more wish granted. 🙂

Summer 2014 : To Matsumoto We go !!!

It was Miss I who actually gave us the idea to visit Matsumoto as she had live there for several years. Since Y and I did not really have a definite plan for the summer , why not right ? 😀

So after our lunch at Nagoya Station, we boarded the train bound for Natsukagawa and from there change to another train for Matsumoto. It was about 3 hours train ride all the way to our final destination.

We both wanted to read and relax in the train but I think the excitement of seeing a new place is getting me all hyped, I can’t concentrate on reading. So taking pictures instead.

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A town we passed.

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Nakatsugawa Station. Took a short stroll outside to find some manhole 🙂

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Mountain and rice field.

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More mountains.

By late afternoon, we finally arrived in Matsumoto City. First thing first, we need to find our guesthouse, find an onsen and food. In that particular order.

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Naruto characters ?

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We are in Matsumoto !!

After we got settled in the guesthouse, we were able to borrow bicycle and it’s onsen time. Base on the guesthouse staff recommendation, we went to Menoyu(目之湯) in Asama Onsen. It was very hot and humid during our stroll in Nagoya, that the thought of soaking our very tired body is amazing. The temperature has cooled down significantly in Matsumoto and we had the rotenburo all to ourselves.

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Menoyu

After onsen, now its time to feed our tummy. Of course, when you are in Matsumoto, you have to try Soba or buckwheat noodles. The owner of the onsen, a nice old man, pointed us to a nearby place which is also a favorite among the locals there.

It was a soba feast. A few minutes later Y and I finished all our food.

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Soba Tempura.


Soba ( I forgot the name )

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The Soba Place.

Onsen, Dinner and adventure. It was a great day indeed. When we finally made back to to our guesthouse, both of us are ready for bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out and the next thing I know , the sun was shining. A new day has started and of course a new adventure. 🙂

Winter 2013 : 10 Hours train ride to somewhere

Yes, you probably think I’m crazy but that was how long it took me to get to my destination last winter break. Of course I was using the Seishun 18 ticket, so basically I can only use the trains that does not require any extra fee, mostly local on this trip.

I had no regrets though, it was a very scenic and relaxing train ride. I passed several prefectures before finally arriving to my final destination.

The train finally arrived in Kamo(加茂) Station in Kyoto Prefecture that will take all the way to Kameyama(亀山) Station, Mie Prefecture.
En Route

Sunrise while en route to Kameyama Station.
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Going deeper to the mountain area of Mie Prefecture , everything was blanketed in snow.
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Even the rail tracks were covered in snow
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The train to Kameyama was a one-manned train and only 2 cars. The train ride was about an hour and 30 minutes and had to wait in Kameyama Station for 24 minutes for the next train to Nagoya.

The train to Nagoya was slowly filled up with people as we pass along the Mie Prefecture so I did not have much room to move around the train to take some picture. It was still scenic though but no snow. The ride was about an hour and 20 minutes and had to wait about 7 minutes for the my next train to Gifu and then change again to another train for Minoota Station(美濃太田)

While going to Minoota, I noticed that some of the stations are unmanned, just like the way to Takeda. Passengers need to pay at front of the train directly to the driver based on where you get on.
En Route

The ride to Minoota was only 30 minutes but unfortunately, the train was late for about 20 minutes. I have to wait for 82 minutes in Minoota for the last train transfer so it was not that bad. I did not find any convenience store or any cheap places to eat like Yoshinoya or Matsuya, fortunately though the hotel in front of the station have a lunch buffet for 1200 yen including drinks so I ate the much needed sustenance and have coffee.

Slowly entering the mountain area of Gifu Prefecture.
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Snow covered station
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One station away to my final stop, the train have to wait for the Limited express train for about 20 minutes. Had a few minutes to walk around and enjoy the view. Can you figure out where I’m going now? 🙂

En Route

Panoramic View around the station.
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I arrived about 40 minutes late than my original ETA but it was okay. Oh and yes I am in snowy Takayama City , Gifu Prefecture.

Shinkansen or Bullet trains are fast and can take you from destination A to B but it does not have any views compared to the local train ride. It does need a lot of patience though and correct timing to connect your train or it will be another hour or two before the next train especially if you are crossing one Prefecture to the next. BUT if you have time, it is definitely worth a try.

Light at the end of the tunnel.

Literally.

I found another interesting place again from Heart of Japan and since I do not have any specific plans for my winter break, I asked some friends if they were interested. Five gave a positive answer, so on the first day of my winter vacation we were off to explore the abandoned railway of the Fukuchiyama Line.

There are two ways to approach the old railway, from JR Namaze Station or from JR Takedao Station. The latter is much easier to navigate but we opted to start from the former, following the  direction given by Heart of Japan.

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Let the hike begin

The warning
The warning sign. To summarize it : “This is not a hiking trail so Enter at your own Risk”, and we did. If you are coming from Takedao station, you will see the same warning.

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Beautiful view of the river. This would be a great place during spring and autumn.

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Another warning this time it says “Be careful of falling objects”.

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Notice the pieces of wood?. Those were the old railway.

First Tunnel
It’s time to enter the first tunnel. I found out that my head lamp was useless and that my iPhone camera was much better. It was a bit scary for me, I’m kinda afraid of the dark but this time it won’t get in the way of this adventure, so in we go.

Inside First Tunnel
We are going in. No turning back now.

Going Out of the First Tunnel
We made it. We can see the light 🙂

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Another warning: ” No lights inside the tunnels.”.

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I’m doing it 🙂

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To the second tunnel we go. This would be very beautiful during the spring.

Entrance to the Second Tunnel
Entrance to the second tunnel and I think the longest one. There are lots of wooden tracks inside so you really need a good light to make sure you don’t stumble and hurt yourself.

what's waiting for us?
After coming out of the 3rd tunnel we found this. A close track crossing the river.

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It would have been really interesting if this was open but unfortunately the other side of this was blocked by a big tree.

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There was a small bridge on the side to cross the river and the side view of the track bridge. At the end of this track you can find some of the wooden track drag to the side and turn into semi-benches. So we decided to make a stop and have some lunch and warm drinks before moving on.

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The other side of the track, trees were blocking the way 🙂

After we came out of the fourth tunnel we saw again the big warning sign and a very nice view of the river.
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We found some old charcoal so somebody was probably making a fire near the it.

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Need directions? The Sakura Trees are just 300 meters away.

5th Tunnel
The fifth tunnel. You can already see the end of it from the entrance.

JR Takedao Station
JR Takedao Station. We safely made it.

It was definitely a very interesting hike. It is very easy but dark and you just need a good walking shoes and a very good flashlight 🙂

Touring Downtown San Francisco

Summer in San Francisco is definitely not summer to me. It was cold.

The next day, I woke up shivering in my friends place somewhere in San Bruno. A really hot shower and hot coffee did the trick. It was supposed to be a whole day tour but T decided to pick me up for an early dinner in Monterey with his family so we have to cancel my Silicon “Geek” Valley tour. I was so looking forward to checking out Youtube’s office but oh well.

Nways, Ri and I decided to take Bart Train from San Bruno Station to Powell St., where we will take the Tram to Fisherman’s Wharf. This way we won’t have to  worry about finding parking area in a crowded touristy place and paying too much for parking.

But when we got there, the tram has not started operating yet and there was already a very long line of people waiting to get a ride so we decided to walk a little bit around the area first.

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Found some really nice building around the area.

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Off to pick up the tourist.

We walked to checked the infamous Union Square, unfortunately there was an event and the whole area was covered. But we found this very big heart near the entrance.

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Before walking any further, we noticed some of the tourist are getting on the tram in front of the Union Square, so R and I decided to give it a try and see if we can get on one. A few minutes later, we are on the tram. We were super excited and forgot to pay and I think the collector did not notice us too , so we were able saved $12 🙂 .

We got to Fisherman’s Wharf and walked all the way to the Ferry Terminal passing by several of the tourist section. R even paid for my Soudough brunch :), I was being spoiled already.

20130819-130015.jpgIt was really good but the serving was still too much for us, we ate half of it . The salad was good but it was soaked in dressing it was starting to get gross.  The meal warmed us up and we were able to continue with our walk with full belly.

20130819-125938.jpgThe Ferry Terminal Building

20130819-125954.jpgI even found a nice Manhole Cover just across the Terminal.

Unfortunately though, we have to cut short our tour since I was supposed to meet with T  and R forgot her phone AND we could not find a working pay phone or a pay phone that is not too complicated to use.

It was a great day, and I was very thankful to R for giving me a tour around San Francisco.  You can read R’s blog called Curly Mom and her adventure as a Mother and all things in between.