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Japan Hour

Bus VS Local Trains In Nagano And Niigata Prefectures - Part 2

This week, the bus and train teams have to complete missions at the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium and a scenic open-air hot spring bath known as one of the 100 best sunset spots in Nagano Prefecture.

The “bus team versus train team” race in the Shinetsu region continues. The teams are racing from Matsumoto Castle in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture to Takada Castle in Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture. They have cleared one out of four checkpoints and are now heading to the second checkpoint. They arrive at the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium around the same time. There are more than 60 ski lifts here and only one of them is gold-coloured. For their mission, two members of each team must ride the gold lift and the last member of the same team must take a selfie at the top of the jump ramp, while making sure that the team members on the gold lift will be in the photo.

The train team completes the mission first and rushes to Hakuba Station to catch the 6.15pm train back to Matsumoto Station. The other team finishes the challenge next and takes a bus from the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal to Nagano Station. Both teams are heading to the third checkpoint, Tomi no Yu in Yomase Onsen, about 30km away from Nagano Station. 

The bus team decides to go to Yudanaka Onsen, which is near the checkpoint. This way, they can go to the Tomi no Yu hot spring at 8am when it opens the next day. They reach Nagano Station at 7pm and take the bus 10 minutes later to Suzaka, which will get them closer to Yudanaka Onsen. So the bus team leaves Nagano Station way ahead of the other team. They reach Suzaka Station at 8pm and start looking for an inn in Yudanaka Onsen.

The train team reaches Nagano Station at 9pm after nearly three hours of travelling from Hakuba. They will stay in Nagano and plan to take the first train to Yomase Station the next morning. They manage to book rooms at a hotel near Nagano Station. 

The bus team finally manages to find accommodation at Aburaya Tosen in Yudanaka Onsen. The hotel agrees to pick them up from Entoku Station. It is about 12km away so the bus team spends their remaining taxi money of nearly 4,500 yen to take a taxi as far as they can. They alight once the money runs out and walk to Entoku Station, 600m away. They reach the station at 9.25pm and are picked up by the hotel owner's wife. They find out that Yudanaka Station is a 10-minute walk from the inn and there is a bus going to Yomase Station at 7.05am the next day. From there, the checkpoint is about 3km away. 

The next day, the train team takes the first train from Nagano Station to Yomase Station, the nearest station to Tomi no Yu. They then must walk 3km from the station.

The bus team heads by the 7.05am bus from Yudanaka to Yomase Station but later realise there is no bus going towards Tomi no Yu from Yomase Onsen. They will have to walk the rest of the way. They alight at the Tsukada Danchi bus stop before Yomase, as it is closer to the checkpoint, and walk 2.5km to Tomi no Yu. They arrive at Tomi no Yu at 7.55am. The open-air bath is popular for its magnificent views and is known as one of the 100 best sunset spots in Nagano Prefecture. Both teams’ mission here is to enjoy the superb open-air bath attached to the hotel. The bus team completes the mission first and can proceed to the fourth checkpoint, the Madarao Kogen Hotel, which is surrounded by beautiful foliage. It is about 25km away from Tomi no Yu and has one of the best ski slopes in Shinetsu. 

The train team, meanwhile, decides to change their strategy. Their original plan was to go to Iiyama Station, the nearest station to the fourth checkpoint, from Yomase Station via Nagano Station. But now they plan to take the 9.20am train from Yomase to Shinshu-Nakano Station, take a taxi to Kami-Imai Station and then take a train at 10.55am. It is currently 9.05am and they must walk 3km to Yomase Station first.

The bus team is also heading to Yomase Station and aims to go to Shinshu-Nakano Station next, where they will transfer buses and head to Iiyama Station, which is near the fourth checkpoint. It is currently 9.15am and the bus leaves in an hour. 


1)    Visit Tomi no Yu in Yomase Onsen for its open-air bath with superb views
2)    Madarao Kogen Hotel has one of the best ski slopes in Shinetsu

Source: CNA


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