The cold weather certainly makes you want to stay at home and cuddle up in a ball under the blankets all day. But going out on a winter road trip is a great way to get outside of the house and experience things you can only do in the cold season.
My friends and I went on a winter road trip during December, and we got lots done in half a day. Here, I will share our 10 hour adventure.
First, we met up in Tokyo at 12:00pm. One friend brought a car, and we hopped on without having decided where to go. After everyone was seated, we took out our phones and started searching interesting places we could go in a day. It was a cold day, but the sun was out, so our first choice was hot springs, onsen. After a half hour of deliberations and voting, we finally chose our destination, the Hottarakashi Hot Springs in Yamanashi Prefecture. Yamanashi is a 2 hour drive North of Tokyo, and is famous for Nikko Toshogu, hot springs, and beautiful nature.
Vacation has to come with good food. So, we decided on eating a famous local food called houtou while heading to Yamanashi prefecture, and went to a famous place to eat. Houtou is a type of udon noodle dish, with plenty of vegetables. In mine, there were large blocks of pumpkin, and I was quite full after eating only half of it. Houtou is perfect for cold days, because the bowl it comes in is like a thick cooking pot, keeping the dish hot for a long time.
After lunch, we headed to the hot springs. Hottarakashi onsen is very popular among the local people too, and there were already many people when we arrived, despite its location on the top of a mountain. The onsen has two types of baths: Acchi-no-yu and Kocchi-no-yu. Acchi-no-yu has hotter water and a better view of Mount Fuji. So, naturally we went to Acchi-no-yu. The view from the natural springs outside was spectacular. We got in the bath outside (called a roten-buro) at around 5pm, and stayed outside until it got dark. So we were able to see the sunset gradually turn into a starry night sky. As it got darker, the town in the valley below the onsen lit up. The view that spread before our eyes was amazing. Yes, it was cold outside, but the hot water of the roten-buro keeps you warm. In the baths, you are not allowed phones, cameras, cigarettes, and alcohol. The fees are as follows: ￥800 for the hot springs, ￥200 for a small towel, and ￥1000 for a large bath towel.
It was still 18:00 when we got out and got dressed, so we decided to go to an amusement park that is famous for its Christmas lights. The lights are called Sagamiko Illumillion. It was 4 degrees by night, and the warmth of the hot springs had faded, but the lights were worth it.
We drove back to Tokyo, and arrived at 22:00. We had accomplished 10 hours of winter activities during our road trip, and I felt very good about my productive day.