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Japan Hour

BINGO Theme: Local Bus Trip In Shinshu - Part 2

A hot spring with "changing colours", a sweet which is only available for a month each year and a "cave cafe" inspired by ancient Egypt are among the places featured during this week's bingo race.

The bingo race between Team Tagawa and Team Takashima in Nagano Prefecture continues. Each of the squares on the bingo card has a clue to find tourist spots and speciality foods that are popular in Nagano. The teams must use the clue to find the place and complete a related mission to mark the square. 

Team Tagawa is at Nakajo Fruit Farm and completes the task of harvesting Shine Muscat grapes with a sugar content of at least 20 degrees.

Team Takashima has just completed the mission at Chausuyama Dinosaur Park and receives the news of the other team getting another square after the mission at the fruit farm. Team Takashima decides to go back to Shinonoi and secure all the squares there. The clues there relate to “earthen pot sweets” and “extra-large natto”. The team reaches Shinonoi Station around 4.05pm and finds out the earthen pot sweets can be found at Matsuki, but it is closed on this particular day. 

Team Tagawa is at Suzaka Station and decides to walk to Obuse to look for “an open-air hot spring with changing colours”. It is called Akebi no Yu and is 2km from the fruit farm. The mission here is to enjoy the open-air hot spring and its incredible view. The colour of this hot spring’s water changes according to the temperature and weather of the day. Team Tagawa marks their fourth square after completing the mission at the hot spring in Obuse. 

Team Takashima is still looking for the natto shop when they get the message about the opponent team marking another square. 

Team Tagawa next tackles the clue about “one-month-only sweets”. They walk towards Obuse Station and drop by the Obusedo shop which sells these popular sweets called Suzaku. They are only available at the store for one month in autumn and thus attract long queues. When Team Tagawa reaches the shop, they are told online reservations are required at least a day in advance. So the team makes a reservation for the next day at 10am.

Team Takashima finally finds the natto shop in Shinonoi at 5.30pm. Masuya Nattoten has won the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award for its quality twice. Kawanakajima beans are approximately three times bigger than the usual natto. The mission is for each team member to eat one package of the large-grained natto. The team completes the mission, marks the square and then catches the 5.55pm train from Shinonoi Station to Nagano Station. 

On the second day of the bingo race, Team Tagawa starts from Obuse, a town known for its chestnuts. They head to the shop selling Suzaku, where a queue has already formed. Team Takashima starts from Nagano Station and plans to go to Suzaka to check out a “cave cafe”. They find out that it is located near Murayama Station, one station before Suzaka Station. So the team heads to Murayama Station. 

Team Tagawa finally tries the one-month-only sweets made with Obuse chestnuts. It has chestnut paste inside and steamed chestnuts on top. After enjoying this extremely popular treat, they too decide to head to Murayama.

Team Takashima is on their way to Murayama Station when they get a message about Team Tagawa completing the mission in Obuse. Team Takashima finally finds the cave cafe. It is inspired by ancient Egypt and has become popular on social media among people who love adventures. The mission here is to locate Tutankhamun. The team finds a door to the basement and realises that the cafe has a secret underground space. They finally locate Tutankhamun and mark their square.

Team Tagawa takes the train from Obuse Station to Murayama Station. They are at Murayama when they get the alert about Team Takashima completing the mission at the cave cafe. So they change their plans, take a bus to Suzaka Station and then will catch another bus to Matsushiro. 

Team Takashima is leading at this point. They too choose to go to Suzaka from Murayama Station. They arrive at Suzaka Station in five minutes and then head to Obuse. 

Team Tagawa misses the 11.40am bus to Matsushiro and the next bus from Suzaka Station is only at 1.30pm. They decide to make use of the waiting time to pursue a clue related to a zoo in Suzaka, which is nearby. 

Team Takashima, meanwhile, reaches Obuse Station and enquires about “a doll with a 15-year wait list that brings happiness". They learn it refers to Zashiki-warashi from Yakimono no Sato. The pottery workshop is a 10-minute walk from the station.

In the meantime, Team Tagawa arrives at Suzaka City Zoo, which boasts more than 50 species of animals. Visitors can interact with the animals here. The mission is to make a capybara, a popular animal at the zoo, sleep for 10 seconds. After completing the mission, Team Tagawa marks the square and uses the special card to take the “free zoo” square from the opponent team. After this, the team will head to Matsushiro. 

Team Takashima is informed about Team Tagawa getting another square and using their special card just as they arrive at the pottery workshop. Team Takashima gets to see the Zashiki-warashi handmade dolls. They became popular after word spread that they make people’s wishes come true. These dolls now have a waiting list of 15 years, with 300 people on the list. The mission here is to take a “mystical” picture. After completing the mission, Team Takashima marks their square in Obuse and uses the special card to take a square away from Team Tagawa. Team Takashima then catches the 1.30pm train to Nakano Station, where they will check out a “scary vending machine”. 

Team Tagawa takes the 1.30pm bus to Matsushiro Onsen, which is related to the clue “Shingen no Yu that glows gold". 

It is a tight race as both teams now have one square left to go and are close to getting a bingo. 

At Nagano, Team Takashima visits an information centre to find out about the “scary vending machine". They are told that it can be found at a place called Teramae Shoten, which is about a 15-minute walk from Shinano-Takehara Station.

Team Tagawa’s bus arrives at Matsushiro Onsen soon after Team Takashima leaves Nakano Station. Team Tagawa quickly rushes to the hot spring, while Team Takashima locates the “scary vending machine”. It turns out to be an insect vending machine. Locusts, bee larvae and other insects are often eaten in this region as traditional food. The team’s mission is to spend more than 3,000 yen at the store where the vending machine is. The team members have no choice but to buy some insects from the vending machine. They end up eating large crickets, cicadas and locusts.

Team Tagawa is only 100m away from the hot spring when they get the alert that Team Takashima has completed their insect vending machine mission, clinched their final square and gotten a bingo. So Team Takashima is declared the winner of this two-day bingo race in Nagano Prefecture.


1)    Obuse’s Suzaku sweets are only available for one month each year
2)    Zashiki-warashi dolls are believed to make people’s wishes come true

Source: CNA


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