Thursday, September 5, 2019

Japan Kantō Winter Drive to Mt Fuji - Part 3 (Lake Kawaguchi-Kusatsu)

The amazing Matsumoto Castle...

After Lake Kawaguchi, we were supposed to make a 3.5 hour drive to Kusatsu. However I chose to make a detour to visit Matsumoto Castle. I'm a big fan of Japanese castles and I was not going to miss this as Matsumoto Castle has the oldest castle donjon remaining in Japan.

So instead of driving straight up North, we took a drive Northwest into Nagano prefecture... As the drive continues, the snowy peaks of Nagano starts to appear~

And hidden within the mountains is the city of Matsumoto 松本 and the castle is right in the middle of it all~

The castle looks best from across the Southwest moat. I think of all the castles I've visited in Japan (including Himeji), this one really gives out a mystical aura. The reflection of the castle in the water amplifies the black and white tone of the castle walls.

As we cross the bridge to enter the castle grounds, we were met some staff in ninja and samurai costumes. That's when J got all excited and rushed over to pose with them... (Naruto phase of his life...)

Being a supposedly low season weekday, there wasn't any queue to go into the castle keep. Inside the keep you can see how people managed to build such a magnificent architecture marvel in those days. Along the way to the top of the castle keep there were also displays of antique Japanese weapons.

A hundred narrow steps on the stairs up and down Matsumoto Castle later, we made our way out of the castle grounds for a walk around Matsumoto City.

There wasn't much to see in Matsumoto City so we hopped onto our car and proceeded to Kusatsu...

.... and J didn't miss a chance to grab a softcream ice-cream from one of the highway rest stops along the way... ( ^ ^;)

Hello Kusatsu!

Over at Kusatsu 草津 we stayed at Kusatsu Onsen Hotel Village

The reason why we chose this hotel was because of J. He wanted to play with snow on this trip but we weren't going to any ski resort so this was the next best thing we could think of~ and it came with free parking! :p

View from our room~

Our room, one side tatami where we can have futon laid out, and 2 x single beds on another side. Perfect for us~

My job at every stop is to setup a charging station to that all devices are fully charged. 1) Powerbank 2) Wifi Router 3) J's iPad!

After setting up the charging station, it was time to reward myself with chill-time 

The stay came with dinner and breakfast. Both were buffet-style meals and the crab legs were very popular. After dinner we took the hotel shuttle bus which took us to Kusatsu.

Kusatsu at night looked lovely with the snow-capped buildings, steam from the hotspring water and light-ups~ Highly recommended to bring along some small towels so that you can soak in one of the hot spring foot baths around the Yubatake.

Kusatsu Yubatake

Hot spring foot bath beside Yubatake

Kusatsu Yubatake
After we finished our soak, we also took a look at some of the souvenir stalls as well as grabbed a bite from the yakitori stand while waiting for the shuttle bus for the return trip to the hotel to end the night~

See other posts from this trip below:

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