Bessho Onsen

A few weekends ago we took a trip to Bessho Onsen, a little town near Nagano, in a pretty little snowy valley. It's the last stop on the local train and has several ryokans and shrines. We stayed in a magnificent place called Ryokan Hanaya Nagano.


It used to be a Samurai residence, and has been a ryokan Since the Meiji era. Our room was sublime and we spent most of our time there tucked up cosily in the kotatsu!

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I loved the rotemburo, the baths and the dining rooms and drew some of the beautiful dishes we were served.


We walked around the town in the freezing but beautiful sunny weather and admired Anrakuji where the wooden octagonal pagoda is a national treasure of Japan.

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I wish there were more weekends I could spend in this luxury...

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Japan trip: Wakayama

I've just spent a lovely few days in the Kii peninsula, in Wakayama, Japan. We stayed in traditional guest houses, in onsen towns along the Kumano Kodo ancient pilgrimage route. Our first stay was in Yunomine.The tiny public onsen 'tsuboyu' there is the only UNESCO world heritage recognised hot spring! After enjoying that, and cooking our own onsen eggs, we walked part of the Kumano Kodo, over a mountain, enjoying the moss and ferns.I love the combination of lush green, tall trees, and ancient stones.We then stayed at the delightful Kameya Ryokan in Kawayu Onsen, on the Ota river.We sat on the rocks and swam in the river, where the cold running water mixed with the bubbling hot spring water rising up through the stones.I love onsen holidays!