Gaijin on Getas Blog

Travel Tips

Jigokudani Yaen-Koen Snow Monkey Park

Posted on December 26th, 2017 by Stephanie Miera

After a short bus ride from the Nagano station you will find yourself on the side of a hill with a sign depicting a monkey in water urging you upward. These signs will lead you on a short walk through a small town to a forested path that will end at the snow monkey park.The path is easy and well marked, surrounded by tall trees and vines and it is not hard to believe this is the home to the monkeys you are looking for.  After about half an hour of walking you will see a geyser shooting water high into the air and a nearby onsen across the river that you are now next to.  You will climb several flights of stairs on your side of the river to the small shack where you will pay your meager 500¥ to enter the Jigokudani Yaen-Koen Snow Monkey Park.  

Once inside, you will follow a trail lined with warning signs about not feeding or touching the monkeys.  This is no zoo with cages of animals brought to you.  Instead you have come to their home so must watch your manners to avoid upsetting your hosts.  The path is not long but follows a stream with some small waterfalls where you can see baby monkeys playing and trying to keep up with their parents.  The path ends at a wall of large stones that the monkeys love to lounge on next to the hot spring bath.  When they climb into the water and begin to relax and calm down, the monkeys seem even more human-like. You will want to join them but keep in mind they are wild animals.  

While this trip will fill a day if coming from Tokyo, it is definitely worth it.  Not only will you get to make your friends jealous of getting to see such a well-known Japanese attraction, but if you enjoy a relaxing hike through the woods and some beautiful countryside you will not be disappointed.  For a taste of the experience a man from Google with a strange 360 camera backpack has made the trek and you can follow along with Google Street View.  Then check to see who is currently in waters with a live camera feed from the parks website here.

Google street view

https://www.google.com/maps/@36.7326444,138.4621934,2a,75y,264.85h,90.02t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1siB8gCPaUj52te4tMj1zceA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Live cam

http://en.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/livecam2/video_en.php

Nyuto Onsen – Historic and Remote Hot Springs

Posted on August 19th, 2017 by Mike Roberts

Nyuto Onsen is a collection of seven popular and remote hot spring inns, located in the Towada Hachimatai National Park in north-central Tohoku. The name Nyuto Onsen means “nipple hot spring” and comes from the suggestive shape of nearby Mount Nyuto. With a history of over 300 years, many of the springs were visited by feudal lords during the Edo Period seeking hot-spring cures. Located deep in the mountains, and surrounded by dense beech forests, you feel far removed from the rest of the world.
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Goshuincho – Red Seal Books

Posted on August 12th, 2017 by Mike Roberts

If you are looking for a unique souvenir for yourself from Japan, we recommend that you consider purchasing a “御朱印帳”, or “Red seal book”. You can use this to get unique, one-of-a-kind seals and calligraphy at temples and shrines. Or, you can bring a notebook for the many ink stamps you will find everywhere in Japan. Or even better, bring both. Read the full post »

Shiretoko National Park

Posted on July 23rd, 2017 by Mike Roberts

Shiretoko National Park

Shiretoko National Park

Shinkansen efficiently transporting thousands of people every day. Concrete jungles with huge neon signs turning night into day. These are the things that immediately come to most people’s mind when thinking about Japan. However, Japan does have a natural side. Shiretoko National Park is one of those places. Shiretoko was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, and is one of my favorite places to see nature in Japan. Read the full post »

Tokyo Sky Tree

Posted on October 8th, 2014 by Takako "Tammy" Ota

Tokyo Sky Tree 2The Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー) is a digital broadcasting tower and a new landmark of Tokyo. At a height of 634 m, Tokyo Skytree is the tallest tower in the world. It is the core of the Tokyo Skytree Town, near Asakusa. Read the full post »

What is a Ryokan?

Posted on April 12th, 2013 by Rachel Moore

When looking at our tours, you will notice that we often stay at ryokans, instead of  a “western style hotel”.  So what is a ryokan?

Ryokan Entrance

Ryokan Entrance

Well first, so you know how to pronounce it, say it with me: ree-o-kahn. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn.  They are smaller, more quaint, and often more hospitable than your mainstream hotel.  Since our tour groups max out at 16 people, it allows us to have the opportunity to stay at such wonderful facilities. You could almost compare the mannerisms to bed and breakfast lodging that we are used to in Western culture, though the room layout is very different.  The rooms will have traditional tatami (straw) mats on the floor, and you will have your own mattress (similar to a futon mattress) to sleep on.  You can often layer a couple of these mattresses to give yourself a little extra height and/or cushion.  Some ryokans offer a few western-style rooms, but you will need to check with us on the particular tour you are interested in to see if this option is available.  The food is also very wonderful (they can cook for a smaller amount of people, giving their food more attention to detail). The “Kaiseki-style” dinners are a treat for both your tastebuds and your eyes. Everything is delicious and served with excellent presentation. Read the full post »

Money Matters in Japan

Posted on February 3rd, 2013 by Rachel Moore

With exchange rates, international charge fees, and money conversion, it can be very confusing to know what the best way to pay for things in another country are.  Japan is very much still a cash society and you are expected to pay in cash most of the time, but you still have options.  Here are a few things to help you be more prepared: Read the full post »

Luggage 101- How Much Luggage to Really Bring

Posted on January 10th, 2013 by Rachel Moore

It’s not everyday that you get to travel across the globe and visit an amazing, historical country you have never been to before. Or maybe you have been to Japan, and know what amazing goodies there are to offer to bring back home to your friends and family. Either way, we do like to shop and bring back great souvenirs, as well as look stylish while we are there, and (if you are like me) be prepared for anything that may come your way (weather, fancy outings, last minute opportunities, etc.). But that may often cause a problem…there is only so much you can take (and bring back) with you! Which raises the question: how much luggage can/should I bring (and how large)? Read the full post »

Dogo Onsen

Posted on December 23rd, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Located in the city of Matsuyama on the island of Shikoku, Dogo Onsen is considered to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest onsen in Japan. There are references to Dogo Onsen in documents from the 8th century. It is reported Prince Shotoku (considered to be the father of Japanese Buddhism) enjoyed the baths, and the baths are mentioned in the “Tales of Genji” written about 1,000 years ago. According to the legends, long ago many egrets lived in Dogo. One day, an egret who injured his leg was seen soaking its leg every day in the hot water. Eventually the egret became well and flew away. The people who saw this began to use the hot springs and their health improved. The news spread that the hot spring was beneficial for ones health, and the hot spring became popular.

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How much walking do we REALLY do?

Posted on December 21st, 2012 by Rachel Moore

Tour Group

Tour Group

Japan is so beautiful, and you seem to see more, take more in, and get more of a ‘cultural immersion’ experience when you travel by foot and public transportation.  Another common question that comes up when people are considering our tours is “How much walking is there, really?”  We have clients of all ages participate on our tours, and all are welcome, but you will want to be very comfortable with walking and staying on your feet for long periods of time.  We always suggest comfortable, broken in walking shoes to use on the tour.  We take public transportation everywhere. So we walk to the subway and train stations, then we walk to our destination which is always nearby, but may be a good 10-20 minute walk, and we are often on our feet going through wherever we are visiting.  We do encounter stairs, and while there are often elevators or escalators around, they are not everywhere and not always available. Read the full post »