Chichibu Bus Tour
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again. Living in Tokyo, it’s easy to forget just how mountainous Japan is. Today I went on a bus tour with Rikkyo Unviersity, and it was probably the most scenic road trip I’ve ever been on. We stopped at Mitsumine Shrine, Hotel Miyama, and then we did wooden boat rafting on the Arakawa River.
I absolutely love the view of all the mountains. The bus twisted and turned as we made our way down the curvy roads, giving splendid views of the surrounding mountains. If you were lucky you’d catch a break in the trees and get an amazing view of a small creak with all the mountains in the background. I know I’m pretty short, but being up here in the mountains, I may as well have been an ant. I did my best to get pictures, but it was a little hard on a moving bus. I have to say though, I’m glad I wasn’t the one driving. It was a little scary seeing how close the bus was to the edge of the cliff.
Matsumine shrine was absolutely beautiful. It was set up high in the mountains and had an observatory where you could look out over the valley. The entrance gate and shrine were absolutely beautiful. I was captivated by the amount of detail that decorated the tops. I could spend at least an hour or two walking around the buildings and seeing all the different pictures, but unfortunately I only had half an hour here (the downside of going as part of a bus tour).
After that we made our way to Hotel Miyama. At first I was like, why did we drive an hour just to come here? From the outside it didn’t look like anything spectacular. However, inside I found that they had prepared a full Japanese style meal for us, complete with the floor seats and tables.
After lunch we took a dip in the onsen at the hotel. It was the first time I had ever been in an onsen (the sometimes natural and sometimes artificial hot springs of Japan), and it did take a minute to get used to the fact that I was walking around naked, but so was everybody else. Honestly, I know there are a lot of people who have hesitations about onsen, but if you’re in Japan, I feel like you should try it at least once. For me personally, soaking in the onsen was nice, but not too much different than sitting in a hot tub back in America. Also, almost all of my friends are guys, and because the onsens are naturally gender separated, if I go to an onsen, I don’t have anybody to talk to. I’d rather go to a joined onsen where everybody wears bathing suits, but that’s just me. Some of my friends love onsen, while others have tried it and find it too uncomfortable. It really just depends on the person.
We ended the day with wooden boat rafting on the Arakawa River. It was by far the best part of the day and an absolutely amazing experience. The water was pretty clear and the sun was just starting to set so the water seemed to sparkle. Most of it was pretty peaceful, but there were some parts where the boat would start moving a little fast and you could get wet if you were unlucky. However, I didn’t let that stop me. I made sure to take pictures the entire way. Also, they took a group picture of us, but that will be sent to me in the mail so I won’t have it for a little while. However I’ll make sure to upload it as soon as I get it.
Today was absolutely amazing. This place wasn’t the easiest to get to. I didn’t see too many trains, so I’m not sure how you would get here if you didn’t do a bus tour like I did, but if you can make it here, I highly recommend doing so!