The “Golden Week” which is continuous national holidays has just started since this weekend in Japan. If you have day-offs both on 1st and 2nd May, 9 days holidays is possible at most. How many holidays you can have depends on every year’s calendar dates and it is a good one for this year. Therefore, many people plan to go on a trip both in Japan and foreign countries during the Golden Week. In particular, everywhere in Japan is so crowded by people. Transportation such as bullet trains and air planes are fully booked and plenty of cars on highways lead heavy traffic jams during the week.
Our “Golden week” plan for this year is to see rich moss
As for the golden week for my husband and I, we normally don’t go on a long distance trip and just wander around Tokyo. However, we decided to go to “Shirakomaike” in Nagano prefecture where is famous for rich moss forest this time. The reason why we chose the place is that my husband has been interested in raising “Kokedama“, a moss ball which is a kind of Bonsai Art like a hybrid of moss and plants for recent years. So, we wanted to see natural and wild moss world. (Incidentally, I also started to raise my moss balls and a miniature bonsai at home by his influence, however, he has to take care of all moss balls in my house after all, because I am originally poor at caring for plants…)
Although we considered to have 1 night 2 days trip, an accommodation fee during the week is almost twice higher than usual. So that, we decided to rent a car and left our house at late evening in order to reach the parking lot there at midnight and to stay in the car until morning. Night driving was so fun and comfortable. We enjoyed light meals at a service area and dropped by a convenience store to get something for breakfast on the way. Fortunately, it was about 4 hour driving from Tokyo to the destination without any heavy traffic jams. In fact, we went there two years ago by the same way as this time and stayed in the car until morning, however, we were hit by very hard rain in the morning and it didn’t stop at all. We had to give up going on a hiking with fully disappointment, so that we really wanted to come back there to walk around moss forest again.
Shirakomaike in Nagano is a well-known place among moss lovers
When we reached the parking lot near Shirakomaike, some other cars has already been parked, which means everybody has the similar idea as ours. Anyway, we stayed in a car and spent at very cold night (The altitude there is 2,115 m and the temperature was 7℃ outside) with sleeping bags and thick blankets until the morning.
We waked up around 5:30 am after short sleep and the weather was so fine without our worries. Soon after passing the entrance, the deep moss forest appeared in front of us. There was so calm in the early morning since there were few people except us. The landscapes reminded me of one scene on the famous Japanese animation called “Princess Mononoke” by the Studio Ghibli while we were walking along boardwalk in the forest. The surface of water seemed like a mirror because of no wind when we reached Shiraomaike, and we stood beside the pond in silence for a while to see the great scenery.
Although we tried to go up to the mountain hut called “Takami-ishi-goya”, we had to turn back on the way because so much snow remained there despite late April and we didn’t bring crampons together. (You never miss to bring crampons in case you visit there in this season.) Even we just walked around the pond slowly while observing a various types of moss, the atmosphere made us so refreshed and we could release all of our stress in our busy life. I really need to get out of the massive urban city and to stay in the nature periodically in order to re-charge my energy for everyday life. Of course, Tokyo is very exciting and unique city to visit, stay and work, but it sometimes requires me too much energy to stay there. So, I try to keep my good balance between physical and mental by being apart from the city.
After nice walking, we went there, of course!
3 hours hiking in the early morning was so comfortable and we decided to leave there before noon to avoid traffic jams on highways in the return. In fact, the parking lot near the pond was completely fulled with cars from various cities on 9:00 am. Needless to say, we dropped by a day visit hot-spring called “Yahho-no-yu” which means “hot spring with eight peaks” near Matsubarako Lake before coming back to Tokyo, because my hiking is always a set of hot spring as I told before. We were healed by good quality of hot water and a view of mountains from open-air bath. Luckily, we never met any heavy traffic jams on our way home as well. The first half of Golden week was relatively nice for us and I am wondering how I should spend the second half of the week right now…