Happy Christmas and New Year from Team Cocorose London

We hope you had a lovely Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year ahead! Thank you to Chris Steele and Emsal Leo of Team Cocorose London, who took this amazing picture on their travels to Nowaza Onsen in Japan. Here's just a little snapshot from their Blog and their amazing time spent there... We left Tokyo early, to catch the Shinkansen to Nagano and then a local train to Togarinozawa Onsen in the Japanese Alps. In Togarinowaza Onsen there was a large temple near the bus station and the snowfall had been so deep that a group of men were employed just to clear the snow off the roof. After lunch we caught the onward bus to the town of Nozawa Onsen, so called because it lies on the site of hot springs, like ‘Bath Spa’. The hot water is plentiful and steaming streams flow through the town, keeping the roads clear of snow even though the hills just above are covered in metres of the powdery stuff. There are around 10 public baths scattered about the town, all free for residents and tourists to use. Our hotel was a ryokan, a Japanese style guest house. When we arrived there was a name tag greeting us on the shoe rack as once inside the building you switch your outdoor shoes for indoor slippers. Our bedroom was a traditional Japanese room, with a tatami floor and sliding screens in the windows. In the middle of the room was a low heater/table which we could sit around and warm our feet whilst having tea. Later in the evening, the staff moved the heater into a corner and rolled out the futons, which had been hidden in a cupboard, for us to sleep on. Our ryokan also had its own onsen downstairs, which was perfect after a day’s skiing. Once settled, we ventured out for a walk around the town and to hire some ski clothes, boots and skis. The town is fairly small with low rise buildings, set in a valley at the foot of the ski slopes. These slopes were the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics.  It snowed overnight and the next day the skies were clear. We had a warm up on the lower slopes before getting the gondola up to the top. The higher slopes, on a clear day, gave wonderful views around the mountain range. We skied around for the whole day, stopping only for lunch at a café midway up the slopes.  Nozawa Onsen was a great resort and perfect for a mini break within our trip. The village was laid back and relaxing, the onsens dotted around gave it a nice feel and the snow was nice and powdery. Japan was an incredible country to visit and the railpass was an excellent way of seeing it. Being so long and narrow, the country has a wide variety of landscapes and environments, covering areas from tropical islands to snowy mountains, one of the world’s largest cities to tiny communities in the wild north. I don’t think anywhere else in the world is the word juxtaposition so appropriate. Ancient shrines next to ultra-modern shopping malls, traditional bamboo and paper sliding doors opening electronically at the press of a button, bullet trains with conductors bowing on entering and exiting the carriage, the list goes on. And of course the food was excellent! We saw a lot of the country but there is still a lot more to see, hopefully one day we’ll be able to go back. (31.01.10-04.02.10)

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