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Japan Hour

Local Bus Adventure To Nagano Prefecture - Part 2

Highlights this week include staying in a renovated traditional folk house with tastefully decorated rooms and discovering local specialities of Yamanashi, such as Kyoho grapes and houtou noodles.

Our two-day bus journey from Mount Takao in Tokyo to Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture continues. So far, we have taken six buses and manage to reach Otsuki Station in Yamanashi Prefecture. We then take a bus from Otsuki to a stop near the Sasago Tunnel. We assume there will be buses at Kai-Yamato Station after the tunnel, which is only accessible by car. So we take a taxi just to go through the tunnel. It is 7.20pm by now and the taxi driver tells us no buses operate at this hour. We arrive at Kai-Yamato Station at nearly 8pm and the taxi ride from Shinnakahashi has cost us nearly 2,500 yen. This leaves us with only about 2,300 yen left for taxi rides on the second day. We took three taxis on day one itself and our taxi budget for the entire trip is only 10,000 yen. 

We decide to spend the night near Kai-Yamato Station and manage to book rooms at a hostel. It is a renovated traditional folk house with rooms which are tastefully decorated with a lot of wood. This guest house is popular among foreign tourists.   

The next morning, we start from Kai-Yamato Station and travel by the first bus at 8.05am to Enzan Station in Koshu City. We visit the tourist information centre to enquire about heading towards Kofu. We are told there are buses from Isawa Onsen Station to Kofu Station. But to reach Isawa Onsen, we will have to go to Yamanashi City Hall and then catch the 11.10am bus from there to Kosei Hospital. We walk for an hour to the city hall. Along the way, we see some grape trees. Yamanashi is one of the top producers of grapes in Japan. Yamanashi City is located on the east side of the Kofu Basin. Its climate and temperature make it an ideal place to grow grapes such as the Kyoho variety, known for being juicy and flavourful. 

We board the 11.10am bus at the city hall and head to Kosei Hospital, which is about 15 minutes away. The bus bound for Isawa Onsen Station leaves the hospital at 11.50am and the journey takes 20 minutes. We have 50 minutes before the bus to Kofu Station leaves at 1.05pm. So we have lunch at Tsuki no Usagi near Isawa Onsen Station. We order Sanuki udon noodles and houtou, a speciality of Yamanashi Prefecture which comes with an appetizing spicy Korean hotpot-style soup.  

After this, we head to Kofu Station by bus and arrive at the city centre of Kofu after 30 minutes. Once again, we make enquiries at the information centre about heading north to Lake Suwa. We are advised to take a direct bus from Kofu to Nirasaki. From that point, there is a bus bound for Shimokyoraishi, near the prefectural border of Nagano. So we board the 1.50pm bus at Kofu Station and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery as the bus heads to Nirasaki Station. The journey takes about 50 minutes. After going to the information centre to discuss our journey ahead, we take the 3.30pm bus to Shimokyoraishi and arrive at 4.10pm. 

As suggested at the Nirasaki information centre, we take the 4.45pm bus to the Yamaguchi School bus stop. There are no buses here, so we take a taxi to Obuchizawa Station at 5.10pm. The plan is to take a bus from Obuchizawa to Hara Village in Nagano Prefecture to get us closer to Lake Suwa. Unfortunately, our leftover taxi money of 2,300 yen is not enough to get us to Obuchizawa Station. So we eventually alight from the taxi and walk the rest of the way to the station, which is less than 1km away. It is 5.30pm by the time we reach Obuchizawa but the last bus which crosses the prefectural border left at 3.25pm. It is impossible for us to reach Lake Suwa by the 7pm deadline as it is about 40km away. So our two-day bus journey across four prefectures is unsuccessful.


1)    Do your research to find out if certain places are only accessible by car 
2)    Kyoho grapes and houtou noodles are among the specialities of Yamanashi Prefecture


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