Thursday, 4 March 2010

On the road to Shirahone Onsen

It was all up hill from Takayama. We're well and truly in the snow now. It looks like it there hasn't been a big snow fall in a couple of weeks but there are huge mounds of leftover drifts everywhere. We made it to the turn of for the last 20 or so kilometres to Shirahone and Awanoyu Ryokan (a Ryokan is a traditional Japanese hotel) when we came to a road block. A bunch of what appeared to be warning signs. So we did the typical tourist thing and drove around them only to be confronted by more signs blocking half the road. We came to a third roadblock, a gate and small gatehouse, and a older guy came running out, cigarette clenched between his teeth, waving at us to stop. Apparently the road is closed until April from what we could gather. I pulled out my Japan road atlas and pointed at the spot on the map where we were and then at Shirahone. The old guy figured out what I meant and motioned for us to keep on the main road and turn off on another road to some other town that loops back around to Shirahone. This road is the only road to Shirahone, of 3, that was still open. Hopefully. Well after missing the next turn off and having to double back we made it to a ski village, Nikagawa (check that Shane), that is about 8 km from our destination. By this time it had started to rain, sleet really. Then the road angled up even more sharply and it started snowing. I was really glad we had snow tires then because some parts of the road were covered in the stuff, snow not tires, especially on the downhill run into Shirahone. So yeah, we made it.

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