Yuru Camp Backpacking (part 3) / Bye Bye Japan

I won’t do any contents links since there’s only one Yuru Camp location in this post. If you’re interested in reading my Yuru Camp content you can read part 1 and part 2 here. The rest is me accounting what I’ve been up to. Fortunately for those that came here for Yuru Camp, it’s the first thing in the post. Keep reading after that if you’re interested in the other things I’ve been up to.

Tsuetsuki Pass Observation Cafe

14/04/20

The day after my trip to Pine Wood Camping Grounds (link to yuru camp backpacking part 2) I set off to Nagano for the next part of my trip. I planned to see the last few campsites and spots from Yuru Camp here, but I had to skip out on the last couple sites due to reasons I will explain later.

I caught the express train from Kofu to Chino, which took about 45 minutes.

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Chino was the closest station to the first spot I wanted to hike to, the Tsuetsuki Pass Observation Cafe. This is where Shimarin stops for a rest in episode 9 on her way to Jinbagatayama Campground, another campsite I planned to visit later.

I ditched my heavy backpack at the station and began my trek. Here’s a shot of just outside the station.

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While walking through the city area I spotted the observation cafe.

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I continued my walk across the flat area towards the hills.

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I was surprised to see all the blossoms still in full bloom here. Maybe because it’s higher up so the temperatures are colder, so they bloom later? I’m just guessing, I have no idea.

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I made it to the hill and began my climb.

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This climb wasn’t as steep and long as the one I did to Fumotoppara, and I didn’t have a heavy bag weighing me down either. The trail was technically a closed road so it was nice and easy to follow.

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Eventually I made it to the road at the top, and followed it for about 100 meters to get to the observation cafe.

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To find it was…closed. I was expecting this.

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Since I can’t access the balcony there’s only one shot I can properly compare so here it is.

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I couldn’t access the lookout point either, it was all fenced off with a big chain.

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I poked my camera through the fence and sort of got a similar view to the one Rin sees on the balcony.

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I could see the other spot in Nagano where Rin does some wild camping from here in the Takabotchi Highlands area. See where the two antennas are at the top of the hill.

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I ate an onigiri I bought earlier for lunch, bought a drink from the vending machine that was thankfully still working, and headed back down.

On the way back through Chino I diverted a bit to take a walk along the river that was lined with cherry blossoms. Beautiful stuff.

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From Chino station I took the local train to my hostel near Kami-Suwa station. It had a very nice view of the sunset from the common area.

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Suwa Lake

Turns out that this lake is the one used as a model for the lake featured in Kimi no na Wa (or “Your Name” in english). I had no idea. I only found out when the guest house host told me. For those that don’t know Your Name is a super popular anime movie that aired in 2016. So popular it got officially aired in cinemas in the US and all across the world. Click on the link above to find out more about it.

Your Name

I really liked this movie, so I was pretty excited when I heard the lake and all. The host also pointed me to a lookout point at a park further up the hill that was supposedly one of the spots to go during sunset. I did a couple days later.

15/04/20

This hostel was a bit strange, as one of the rules was all guests had to leave at 10am, and return at 4pm. I guess so the owner could leave and do her own things during the day. So I left a bit before 10pm and had a wonder around the city. I went to the lakeside and decided to check out the footbaths that I saw on a brochure.

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Here they are.

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Aaaannnd they were empty.

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I went back the way I came and continued along the lakeside to do a loop back to the hostel.

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I got back to the hostel at around 3ish so I waited for an hour outside. I took some cool pictures messing around with the depth of field.

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In the afternoon I left the hostel at around 5:30ish to catch the sunset at Tateishi park. It was a footpath which was almost entirely just stairs all the way up.

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The host said it would be tiring but compared to what I’ve done already, this was easy peasy.

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I got to the park at the top and took a shot.

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But the field of view on my camera wasn’t wide enough and it wasn’t dark enough. I waited for about 30 minutes, and had a nice chat with my brother and sister on whatsapp.

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Since my phone has a wide angle lens, I took a comparison shot on that. The image quality and colour accuracy isn’t as good as my Lumix, but whatever. Here are some screen caps from the movie.

And here’s some of my pictures.

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The pictures don’t match exactly because apparently the place where the movie really inspired this shot from was a lot higher up the hill in the highlands near the top of Mount Kirigamine. As it so happens this is real close to where Shimarin stops off on her way to the Takabotchi Highlands at the Korobokkuru Hutte Cafe in the middle of nowhere.

But this area was way too far for me to hike to, and there’s pretty much nothing else up there.

There were a few young people playing volley ball, but about 10 minutes later a couple turned up. They watched the sunset with the Your Name theme song playing on a phone. A bit cringe, but it was kinda cute.

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It was starting to get cold. I had a hot coffee from the car park vending machine but its effects were starting to wear off. I headed back down the hill the way I came and took some pictures using night mode on my phone.

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A Sudden Exit

17/04/20

The night before I asked my host if I could stay inside the hostel past 10am since I had lots of writing up to do on my laptop. I used google translate to talk to her. And even though I thought she understood and everything was ok, it was evident the next morning she did not understand. It was about 10:20 when she came into the hostel area, and was asking why I hadn’t left yet. She wasn’t very happy with me at all. Then she came to the decision to kick me out. She gave me back my money I paid to stay the following night and told me to pack my things, saying I was “bad mannered” and there were “rules in Japan” I had to follow. I tried explaining to her that it was simply a misunderstanding but she was having none of it. I decided not to argue with her and left. Instead of heading up to Takabotchi highlands the following day, I thought I might as well go that day instead. But that didn’t go to plan either.

On my way to Midoriko station, the closest station to the place I’d be camping that night, I received the news that the whole Japan had gone into a state of emergency. Maybe that explains why the host was so iffy with me that morning. It was a difficult decision, but I decided then and there that I shouldn’t be travelling around if the country was going to go into a state of emergency. Plus it was due to rain that afternoon and the following few days, and it’s not nice to camp in constant rain.

I got back on a train at Midoriko, and took the express to Kofu, then took the Minobu line all the way back to Kakurinbo. While I was there I had a discussion with my family and thought it would be best I returned back home. I’m lucky Japan stayed open this late and I was able to travel around, but this situation was inevitable due to COVID-19. So I’ve spent the last few days working to pay off my stay at the inn, and preparing to leave Japan. Here’s some stuff that’s happened while I’m here.

The other day Junko-san (the owner of the inn) found an old picture book from her wedding. Some of the pictures she thought were embarrassing and didn’t want us to see.

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The girl on the left with the glasses is Emma. She arrived shortly before I left to Kofu and has been chilling at the inn doing work like me and Damien to pay off her stay.

Even though I love cats I’m allergic to them. There are a few at the inn.Why must it be this way 😦

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One of the jobs us three were tasked to do was renovating Junko-san’s son’s room. The ceiling paper was a huge faff.

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Damien cutting a slit for the electrics
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Emma being a human-ceiling-paper-support
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The cats again

Another day Junko-san took all the staff and family out for Karaoke. It was a first for me so I enjoyed the experience. Lots of drink and lots of fun. I even sang “The Start of Something New” from High School Musical with Emma. Damien did not approve.

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Endo-san singing “Dragostea Din Tei”
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Yesterday I went to Selva again to pick up some Japanese snacks for my siblings back at home. I also got a Shimarin sticker and a Yuru Camp tourism book.

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Oh yeah and I made a cool new home screen on my phone. Smart Launcher 5, Today Weather widget and Resicon Flat icons. Nice.

So that brings me to today, 21/04/20. Tomorrow on Wednesday I leave to Tokyo to stay a night, where I’ll pick up some stuff I bought while I was there last from my mate Alessio. Then the day after that on Thursday I take a direct flight to the UK. On Friday after spending a night in Southampton, either in a hotel or a tent, I’ll take a special flight to Jersey. I had to get special government approval to book this one. I’m interested to see how travel around Tokyo and the UK has changed since I was last there. I’ll document it here. See you in the next post.

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