Yesterday I met a girl named Tomoko for lunch.
She took me to a great soba restaurant. Yamagata is famous for delicious soba and I finally got to have some. It was indeed super delicious. The restaurant owner was so nice and friendly to me and gave us extra sides and free dessert. I love kindly restaurant owners in Japan, they always remind me of how great and generous people can be here to foreigners.
Suddenly, Tomoko suggested we drive to Ginzan Onsen in Obanazawa. It was already afternoon so we wouldn't be able to go into the hot springs without staying for the night, but she just wanted to drive there. That made me really happy. I love spontaneous road trips so much. And I had just given her a mix cd, so we had great music for driving, haha.
Ginzan Onsen is really famous all over Japan. TV dramas and commercials have been filmed there. It's full of old buildings and it's beautiful in the winter. It was very quiet when we got there at dusk, and very cold. Even though we didn't go into the hot springs, we felt so relaxed by the peaceful street, the smell of sulphur and the big clouds of steam rising out of the ashiyu.
To get to this waterfall, we had to cross a narrow, snowy footbridge across the river. It was scary and fun. I was sure if anyone fell in it would be me.
I love onsen, especially in rural Japan. Ginzan Onsen was just as beautiful and charming as everyone says and I'll probably return there soon to actually enter the hot springs.
Here's a real picture of snow monkeys chillin in an onsen in Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano, Japan.
It's part of a national park famous for a large population of Japanese Macaques. When the snow monkeys get cold in the winter, they come down and hang out in the hot springs all day, then go back into the forest at night. God that's fucking awesome!