Japan Travel Entry: Minakami, Gunma Prefecture

As of today, we are expected to head back to the States at the end of January, 2018 – John hates when I jinx us…I guess there is always the possibility of an extension, but only time will tell.  With that being said I’m now on a mission more than I ever was before to check things off of my Japan bucket list, which some how keeps getting longer and longer.  Shocking!

This little weekend adventure took us to the north, Minakami to be exact.  Minakami is in Gunma Prefecture about a few hours northwest of Tokyo.  It’s about the point on the main island of Japan where anything north of it is in no-mans land.  Despite that it’s definitely worth checking out because turns out it’s absolutely beautiful there.  I’m not sure how many blog posts I have of me just raving about the beauty that is Japan, but seriously guys this country really has it going on.  The best part about it, is that it’s small enough that if you’re here for two years (like us), then you have the time to see a lot of it.

The primary reason I chose Minakami was because I wanted to let my adventure flag fly free and try some adrenaline junky activities.  For this trip it happened to be canyoning.  If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry neither did I.  Basically, the idea is to body surf and jump your way down a river in a canyon.  Sound like fun?  Well it totes was! After being sold by some friends in Nagoya, I gathered up a group and to the north we went.

One of the best things Japan has going for it is the Shinkansen, it’s fast, easy to use, and always on time.  However, one problem for us is cost.  A super fast train isn’t cheap and therefore we decided to take our weekend trip on the road.  Five and half hours later, on a Friday night, we found ourselves at a rad little lodge in the middle of the mountains.  Of course arriving as late as we did we weren’t expecting much but to go to bed, however, the lodge owner and his dog, Lucky, were waiting up to greet us.

Since we had the place ourselves that night and the owner was a laid back Aussie, we decided to stay up enjoying a few ビール before bed.  I won’t lie that one of my favorite things about living abroad is the places you go and the people you meet along the way.  It’s honestly the best part about traveling.  I’m sure I’ve said it a zillion times, but really travel is the only thing I truly believe gives you a rich life.  Something as simple as enjoying a few beers, with friends, and a lodge owner, telling tales of past adventures always makes for great memories.

Despite a bit of a late night we were up early for a bit of hiking before heading to the canyon.  Because we were there for other reasons we didn’t do any serious hiking, just a short trailhead to the rock face of Mt. Tanigawadake.  The lodge owner even let us borrow his dog for the hike.  Which was a bit histarical…#becausejapan.  Take a look at a few pics.

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Lucky our new dog friend

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Hated to say goodbye to this guy.  However, he had a pretty exciting day ahead as per his owner his girlfriend was on her way into town 😂🐶

After regretfully saying good-bye to Lucky and Tenjin Lodge (highly recommend a stay here if you’re ever in the area), we headed out for canyoning.

Of course activities like these always require you to sign your life away and that death is a possibility, blah blah blah.  So an extensive safety video and a list of emergency contacts later, we were off.  I booked the half day tour which gave us about 4 hours in the canyon.  The cool thing about it is the more your master it the harder canyons they offer.  For those reading this blog for tips we used Canyons Japan and they were fantastic.  English and Japanese speaking guides, a sweet backpacker lodge, and nice BBQ option and bar are all available through them.  Here’s a few pictures from our time in the canyon.

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#dontgochasinwaterfalls

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haha too much action in this action shot that my face is blurry

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What better way to end a day like that then with a riverside BBQ and some ice-cold namas (draft beer).  We decided to make a thing out of it and stay at the backpackers lodge after our canyon trip.  I also really recommend this.  It was nice to just relax, hang out, and have drinks with friends.

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Men and their BBQ

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It’s typical in Japan that after strenuous activities to go hang out in a onsen for a while for ya know rejuvination purposes.  Well turns out Minakami is home to one of the most famous onsens in Japan, Takaragawa Onsen.  The funny thing about this onsen is that in my blog post Gifu, Prefecture I had googled photos of Japanese onsens and turns our I used one from Takaragawa.  I’m rambling, but long story short the next day we hit this place up and it was stunning.  The only weird part was it happened to be co-ed.  Let me tell you that was a special experience.  Ah well, when in Rome…or Japan.  The first three photos I was able to take of the river and nearby the onsen, the others are thanks to my friend Google.

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Whew are you tired yet?  Well to soak up everylast drop of this weekend, we decided to make a little pit stop on the way home to a wasabi farm.  I won’t lie I really didn’t know what to expect, but turns out it was pretty cool and in true Japanese fashion they had wasabi flavor everything.  So because I’ve always wanted to know all about wasabi I learned a lot of things that day, but mostly that I don’t like wasabi flavored soft cream.

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Well cheers friends! Thanks for following along as always! Hopefully, I’ll be sharing a few more adventures with you before my impending return Stateside.  Gah that’s just so freaking sad…I need to plan another vacation STAT! 😂

Until next time! じゃまた!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Tofu says:

    That’s amazing! Thank you for sharing!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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