Today we joined our good friends, the Kever’s, for a trip to Nagano (host of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games) to see the famed snow monkeys and also Matsumoto Castle. We rented a van from the base, complete with TWO drivers this time. It really is a nice perk to base living! Upon arrival in the snowy little town (about 4 hours away), our van got stuck on the ice. Luckily, the guys were able to push us back to drier ground. Off to a great start!
It is a good thing we brought the ski clothes!
We haven’t seen snow yet in Tokyo, so the kids were beyond excited!
There is a 30 minute walk to see the monkeys along a very snowy, but beautiful trail.
When you reach the park, the monkey’s are literally right next to you. There are no enclosures or cages, this is where they live in the wild. It was so fun to see. They are not scared of humans, but can get aggressive with food, so you cannot feed them.
They just huddled up together to stay warm.
There was also a lovely waterfall.
We were able to get up close and personal with this one!
And then we got to their onsen, or, hot springs. These monkeys love to sit in the hot springs to stay warm. Can you blame them?!
After a quick break for hot chocolate, we headed to Matsumoto Castle.
This magnificent building is the castle! Built almost 400 years ago.
The samurai inhabited the 2nd floor, and all the little windows were designed for gunfire, and protecting the castle. The war lord stayed on the top floor.
We even got to go inside. The wood work was amazing! It was too dark inside to take pics, but here is one of the kids looking out the window. We all had to take off our shoes and put on special slippers inside.
The kids are like rock stars over here! This girls basketball team was also touring the castle and they shrieked “kawaii, kawaii” (cute) when they saw the kids. Outside they were getting a group photo and I asked for one more, when the kids joined them, they all cheered. It was so funny!
This is my Knight in Shining Armor, my Prince Charming and the King of my castle!
Another great (but very cold!) day!
I love those snow monkeys! Too bad the interior of the castle was so dark –I would have loved to see inside.
So amazing! I love the pic where you were on the bridge really close to the Monkey… Matt looked a little unsure. Lol. Your girls are so lucky to have this experience and you both as their parents! Miss you.