Day 1: Nagano Road Trip

10 Oct, 2010

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During our holidays from our school, we planned a to do a road trip in Japan. We already arranged the car through of course Mazda rent a car Japan (we should get paid for mentioning their name so often), but didn’t have a specific destination. There are still a lot of places in Japan we want to go to, but what’s doable by car in a weekend, hmmm….

During my visit to the drift matsuri I stayed in a small hotel, really close to the track where the commercial trucks for sale, I want it to buy one. I guess we weren’t the only one, visiting the matsuri and staying at that hotel. This is where I spotted this battle-scared Subaru Legacy on TE37.

Eventually we decided to go from Tokyo to Nagano Prefecture and more specifically first to Matsumoto, then to Kamikouchi and end with a trip to Yamanouchi’s Monkey Park. We booked a hotel in Matsumoto for 2 nights and this would function as our base to go to the other locations. Because Pui-Yuk still has her obligations from her part-time job, we planned to leave Tokyo after she finished work.

So Friday the 1st of October I picked up the Demio (aka Mazda 2) at the car rental shop close to Hamamatsucho station in Tokyo. And went back home where Pui-Yuk was waiting for me to pick her up, put the baggage in the car and start our road-trip!

Nagano Prefecture Road Trip - Mazda Demio and on the Road

Everything went pretty as planned, but we had to figure out how the Japanese GPS navigation worked again. After that we were hitting the road. The Navigation indicated it would take a bit over 3 hours to get from Tokyo to Matsumoto. But knowing we would still want to do some stops in between we knew it was going to take a bit longer.


After about an hour of driving we left the city behind us and started to see some mountains as a backdrop. This is really so different from Holland where there are no mountains at all. Because of that the roads are also flat, this is not the case in Japan. The roads go up and down and that makes driving here very interesting. I was already enjoying our Japanese road trip.

Mount Fuji

Hey what’s that in the rear view mirror. Isn’t that Mount Fuji? Yes it is Mount Fuji! It’s not everyday you can see this giant poking his head through clouds. This is one of those moments when you really love Japan even more than you already do. It’s just so beautiful.

Matsumoto Road Sign

Matsumoto! That’s where we are going. We actually wanted to go to Nagoya too but we just did not have enough time to fit that into our weekend. Japan is a big country compared to Holland. Because we are getting old we already made a pit-stop to stretch our backs and went for a quick toilet break.

Our reflection in a truck

Almost there! The further away we move from Tokyo the quieter it get’s on the road. In this picture you can see our reflection in the truck, can you see us waving? No? That’s probably because we weren’t waving. It would have been nice to have a green car though, would stand out more. And I like that color on the Demio.

Arrived in Matsumoto, Hotel and Castle

After arriving at Matsumoto we went straight to the hotel we booked through HostelWorld; Matsumoto Tourist Hotel. They have a parking area in front of the hotel. So we parked the car there and went into the hotel. At the counter we said we had a reservation, but the guy couldn’t find it. He asked us at which hotel we made a reservation. Soon after we realized that we walked into the wrong hotel. Oops! The Matsumoto Tourist Hotel was on the other side of the road. ごめねさい!

So arriving at the right hotel this time everything went fine. The rooms are Japanese sized, which is small but it was the cheapest hotel in Matsumoto. It was clean, free internet (you have to bring your own laptop) so we could not complain for sure. Very good value for your money. Especially good for doing a road trip in Nagano Prefecture, because they have plenty of parking space.

Soon we headed out and went to discover the city. The main attraction has to be the Matsumoto Castle, it was already dark but the castle was well lit with a lot of lights. In the pond in front of the castle were a lot of fish. You could see them eat the bugs which landed on the water. It was getting late and we have not had dinner yet, so we went into town to find some food and went back to the Hotel early. Because we want to get up early the day after and head to Kamikouchi!


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