So today we made the journey to the Monkey Onsen. And oh what it a journey it was. Remember back in the day before GPS, before Navigation in the car. When you had to look up directions to someone’s house, or another destination, and then you printed them off. You drove along to their house checking every street sign, and counting your miles. Those days were frustrating right? Those days we used to spend hours lost in the middle of suburbia dissecting streets named Williams Circle, Williams Drive, and Williams Valley …..and screaming too ourselves at the top of our lungs in the car. How *&%^ing annoying ey? Well today was that day.
I speak “Choto Nihongo,” (Little Japanese), and today it got put to the test. Josh was driving, and I was passenger seat navigator. We drove the K Truck, if you have no idea what that is, imagine driving a truck a little bit larger than a go cart on a highway. It’s Echo size I liked to say. It’s ok if you’re a midget, if not your knees may start to ache.
I decided to be a rock star before the trip by taking screen shots on my phone of the directions. I thought I was well prepared. But everything on google maps was congi symbols. I may speak little Japanese, but I read not a damn bit of symbols. That’s an art form my friends, and I am not prepared to go down that worm whole just yet. Regardless I was pretty well set in my role, and figured that I knew my way.
So let’s move on to hour one of the trip. We hadn’t even left the neighborhood yet. We found a tiny café at the top of the hill called Panaroma, and guess what…..they had vegan chocolate cake. Where am I? We are surrounded by Ramen, and sashimi but no vegan, vegetarian anything. What a treat. So we sat, and had Mocha and a pastry or two, and chatted with the locals. Just as the guests from our lodge had told us, the café employees told us the journey to the Monkey Onsen was super easy. They said easy as, no worries. So we jumped into the K Truck, and were on our way.
We were lost within 10 minutes, but we had no idea. In our minds we were proud that we were so navi savvy, and that we were getting quite good at reading Japanese signs. The first big turn onto the highway was a complete fluke it appears. We paid for it for the next three hours.
We stopped somewhere along the way at Lake Nojiko, and flew the drone because I have been practicing, and trying to get better. But of course I forgot to take off the gimble guard before the first flight, so the first flight was completely unstable. And then as I flew it home I chipped a bit of one of the propellars off on a power line. That was fun.
We realized along the way that somehow we took our managers advice incorrectly. She told us do not go to Nagano, go to Nakano….very different places. So we pretty much followed every sign that went away from Nagano. Only to realize much later that Nakano was actually on the way to Nagano, and that we had to head towards Nagano to get to our destination. So we journeyed all around the area until we ended up in a place we thought was the Monkey Onsen.
We had stopped at about 3 different Lawson’s (Japanese Convient Store), and I had fumbled my way through Japanese. “Ohiyo Gizamous!!! Jigokudani wa doko deska??? (Hi there, where is the Monkey Onsen)….first the employee would laugh at me. Then make a couple of confused noises, and say Hai, Hai, Hai (Yes, yes, yes) and proceed to help me along my way.
Hour 3 into the trip we celebrated. We were sure that we found the place we were looking for but we were on the wrong side of the river climbing up a dodgy snowy mountain path that lead to what we thought would be the monkey Onsen, we were wrong. We ended up getting stuck because Josh things he’s a Nascar driver. Just kidding. But seriously. A little Japanese man showed up in the middle of nowhere with his little walkie talkie, and greeted us. He tried to explain where we were, which in my broken Japanese I could barely pick up. But Josh kept saying Hai, Hai, Hai so the man continued to have long conversation with Josh. Josh kept smiling and shaking his head like he knew what he was saying so it took some time before we left. I kept laughing to myself because, obviously Josh had no clue what he was saying.
Somehow eventually we ended up finally finding Jigokudani, thirty minutes before it closed.
The forest was beautiful, the walk was well needed, and quite speedy since we were on time crunch. My ass was numb by the time we made it there from sitting for so long. And as we got to the Monkey Onsen all the monkeys had gotten out of the water except one. I totally get it little one, I like bathing alone too. The rest of the troops were flinging shit at each other, jumping on each other’s back, having sex in front of strangers, slapping one another, or chasing each other around screeching. I felt like I’d just walked into the aftermath of some shitty bridesmaid’s party gone wrong. A bunch of winging brats, but holy hell they were cute.
They aren’t much for eye contact though I’ll tell you that. I bent down to get on the same level as some. I thought they were so adorable. I stared into their little red faces, and looked deep into those Green eyes and almost got bitch slapped a couple of times. Personal space, I get it. Alright alright. I guess they just aren’t that into me.