Travelling in Japan - Part 2 (Gunma & Osaka)

The second week of our trip in Japan took us to the north of Tokyo to the Takaragawa ryokan onsen in Minakami-Machi, Gunma. We travelled by train to the north where we greeted by gorgeous white snow. We traveled to the onsen by bus and started our retreat to the Japanese mountains.

Takaragawa onsen in Minakami-Machi, Gunma.
After signing in, we went to our room which was a traditional Japanese ryokan room with sliding doors and a large table in the centre of the room which you would sit at, cross legged. We put on our yukatas and headed out to the hot baths. The snow was falling into the hot spring river that ran through the onsen creating a winter wonderland. We relaxed in one of the larger baths for a while, enjoying the warm water and the beautiful scenery. We felt relaxed and very lucky.

That evening, we had a delicious 4 course Japanese meal which was beautifully presented. This included shabu-shabu where we cooked our own meat and vegetables. The food just kept on coming. After dinner we went out for another bath in the dark. The snow was still falling and it was a beautiful experience.

The following morning we had breakfast after taking one final bath at the onsen. After the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, the onsen felt peaceful. We felt rejuvenated as we boarded the bus to head back to the train station. We headed to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey park where we trekked in the snow for 40 minutes to see the small monkeys run around and enjoy the hot springs bath. It was very crowded so we headed back to our next ryokan in the nearby town. The town was a winding road that had small onsets and shops. The onsen was smaller and much older than the previous one but it was very cosy and we enjoyed a lovely bath alone.

The small onsen town had a total of 9 onsens which are all said to heal different ailments. We wore our yukatas and wooden clogs and went exploring the local area and enjoyed a nice meal nearby. The area had lots of small shops that were left open and had 'honesty boxes' for people to leave money for their purchases. There were several temples and shrines nearby. We also tried a can of coffee from a vending machine which was interesting! The hot springs water was constantly running and we saw soft boiled eggs for sale outside a hotel.

Onsen in Gunma. 
Togura Kamiyamada Onsen town 

The following day we travelled to Osaka, the second largest city in Japan. Whilst similar to Tokyo, Osaka is a bit more laid back and relaxed. We had a nice hotel not too far from Dotonbori. We had a rest then headed out to explore the area. We found a nice coffee shop where we spoke to the owner then headed to Dotonbori to see the famous Glico running boy and Super "dry" neon signs. The area was extremely crowded with people as far as the eye could see. We had ramen for dinner and had a look in some shops.

Osaka Castle

The next day we travelled to Osaka station and went to the Umed sky building which made my legs shake as it was so high! I wasn't brave enough to venture to the very top! We walked by Osaka castle which was nearby the Osaka-Jo Hall which I knew as Prince had played there in early 1989. After a rest at the hotel we headed to Dotonbori for some food and a stop at Mr Donut which had become a place we went to several times a day!

Temple shrine near to our hotel in Osaka.
We travelled south to Hiroshima the next day. We got a bus to the site of the atomic bomb in 1945. The site was very sad but also very peaceful and the area was a lovely memorial to those who died. We went into the museum nearby to learn about what happened.

After lunch we went to the ferry terminal to go to Itsukushima where the infamous Itsukushima shrine is.
The island was beautiful and had wild deer wandering around with the tourists. The gate looked stunning, surrounded by water. At night as we left the gate was lit up. We traveled back to Osaka and had ramen for dinner. The next day we were travelling to Fuji to rent a car and drive near Mount Fuji.


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