Road Trip on Shinano Railway Line (Part 2)

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Road Trip on Shinano Railway Line (Part 2)

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Road Trip on Shinano Railway Line (Part 2)

Our two-day journey of discovery continues on the Shinano Railway Line in Nagano Prefecture. On the first day, we have dinner at Tsukeba Hut along Chikuma River near Ueda Station. The sweetfish ramen we order is the restaurant’s original creation - the person who came up with the dish is Mr Nishizawa. The salt-based ramen is filled with all sorts of sweetfish and the soup takes over half a day to prepare. A whole grilled sweetfish is placed on top of the ramen. 

We want to visit another recommended spot, Ueda Castle, after this. However, as it is rather late and it is going to rain soon, we decide to call it a day and visit the castle the next morning. We check into a business hotel near Ueda Station. 

On the second day, we make our way to the castle, where Tokugawa Ieyasu was defeated twice by the Sanada clan, which included famous general Yukimura Sanada. The castle was abandoned during the Meiji Period when fiefs were abolished. Many of the turrets were disassembled. However, civilians repurchased two of the turrets and relocated them to where they stand today. So the main castle no longer exists and only the turrets remain, which is why the area is now known as the Ueda Castle Ruins Park. We check out the Ueda Fief War Monument, from where one can see the whole town of Ueda.

We return to Ueda Station, purchase a one-day pass again and take the 10.20am train to Tekuno-Sakaki Station. A passenger tells us there is a large convention hall for meetings in the area. We arrive at the station after a 10-minute ride and have until 11.35am to walk around. We go to the convention hall, which offers a nice view of the surroundings. We find out that towards the end of the Showa era and the beginning of the Heisei era, this was known as a business venture town. Sakaki now has many manufacturing industries and small- and medium-sized companies. 

A lady tells us about the Sakaki Chikumagawa Rose Park along Chikuma River near Tekuno-Sakaki Station. As it is quite far, she offers to drive us to the park. It boasts 320 kinds of roses, numbering over 2,300. A rose festival is also held here yearly in the middle of the year.

We make our way back to the station and decide to go to Togura Station. The area is well-known for its various hot springs, such as the famous Togura Kamiyamada Onsen. With a retro Showa-era atmosphere, it has been known as a hot spring town for more than 100 years. Kamiyamada’s hot spring water is said to be good for the skin. The town has over 50 hot spring sources and there is free-flowing hot spring water at public baths in the area. The Kamiyamada Onsen Festival is also held here. 

The train arrives at the station in 10 minutes. We ask a local about the hot springs and hot spring lodges at Togura Kamiyamada Onsen. The person tells us to take a bus to the Hot Springs Park and then check out the Kara-Koro Foot Bath next to Kamiyamada Hotel. It is free of charge so it is a perfect treat after a long journey. After trying the hot foot bath at Togura, we ask around for places to eat lunch. Two ladies we come across recommend we go to Pasta and Pudding COCORO, which is known for its soup pastas. It has more than 40 kinds of pasta on the menu. We order the salmon with tomato cream soup and tomato soup pasta with seafood. 

We then take the Hotto Bus back to Togura Station and hop on the 3pm train going to the terminal station, Shinonoi. The train enters Nagano City, crosses the Chikuma River and pulls into Shinonoi Station. We speak to a resident who recommends we visit the Nagano Olympic Stadium - also known as the Minami Nagano Sports Park - where the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Olympics were held. It is now a baseball stadium, with the platform bearing the Olympic flame situated at the entrance. 


Tips:

1) A must-see spot in Ueda is the Ueda Castle Ruins Park
2) Soak your aching feet in the free Kara-Koro Foot Bath in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen after a long walk


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