1. Introduction, 1st Day
2. 2nd Day (Walking Around)
3. 3rd Day (Matsumoto Castle)
4. 4th Day (Walking Around)
1-1 Introduction

A half year has passed since my seventy-seventh birthday. Perhaps because of the age, I'd rather like a stay-at-home nowadays and the sphere of my daily life has been getting narrower.

I had enjoyed travels with Emiko, my wife, either domestically or overseas until several years ago, making use of a rich variety of tours in the guidebooks through the four seasons. Our couple put an emphasis on travels abroad, and enjoyed ourselves twice a year for about ten years after my sixtieth birthday. Besides, we surely took domestic trips once two or three months during the period.

Our trips were mostly realized by joining the tours of major travel agencies.
I had made business trips abroad of my own plan nearly 20 times in my working days with Daido Steel. So, I really felt that the tour travels depending entirely on travel agencies were comfortable with no complaint. Most of both domestic and overseas travels were with an attendant and a guide. In addition we had no worry about every breakfast and most of dinner. Needless to say, the cost must have been much cheaper than by our own planning.

And most of the travels are accompanied by my hobby.
As soon as I return home, I start a travelogue each time, beginning to arrange a lot of pictures. It ends by my own reading of the whole story. Then a new work is added to my homepage one by one.
Every travelogue takes several times as long as its real traveling days.

I have been continuing to translate the domestic travelogues into English, because of an intention to inform foreign people of the unique climate, tradition and culture in Japan I experienced myself in my own way.
The more I knew foreign countries through the business trips in my young days and the couple tours until lately, the more I had a pride in the traditional sources of Japan and wished to advertise them.

- - - - - - - - - - -

I am in the train "Super Azusa 15" which started from JR Shinjuku Station at noon and is heading for Shiojiri Station, Nagano Prefecture. Our destination is Shinshu Shirahone Spa in the mountains, away from there about 75 minutes by car.
Looking over passing views, such and such things flashed in my mind.

While feeling something like social withdrawal nowadays, I decided to join this trip with no positive idea but on impulse, so to speak. The main reason to choose this spa was that I thought it was near Matsumoto Castle which I had not visited yet to my regret.
Anyway, while the train was passing Kokubunji, I took out a note from the rucksack, thinking of preparing for a travel essay this time.

Now it's time to start the travelogue of the 4 days around Shirahone Spa with the above incoherent reminiscence as an introduction.
The following is the itinerary the trip was done just like.

Four Days around Shirahone Spa,
Late Autumn 2017

November
12
(Sunday)
Lv. Shinjuku 12:00 Super Azusa 15
Ar. Shiojiri 14:25

Stay: Tsuruya Inn (Days 12-15)
Shirahone Spa, Azumi, Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture
13
(Monday)
Walking around Shirahone Spa

33 Kannon, Ryujin Falls, Kansuikei, Tsuidoshi, Literature Monument of Nakazato Kaizan
14
(Tuesday)
Matsumoto Castle
15
(Wednesday)
Walking around Shirahone Spa
Funtokyu Hill, Monument of Bokusui and Kishiko Wakayama, Yakushido Temple

Lv. Shiojiri 12:08 Super Azusa 16
Ar. Shinjuku 14:41

1-2 1st Day
Sunday, November 12 2017

Fine, 15℃.
When getting to the near station Maihama, our couple found the surrounding area was crowded a lot with men and women of all ages for Disney Resort under the nice fall weather on Sunday. Especially young people. Many of them were with babies on carriages.

Allow me to make a detour a bit.
Yesterday was November 11, the 11th day of the 11th month. That is + -, + - in kanji letters. So, it was a day of batteries in Japan.
What about today?
It is the day just of half a year since my 77th birthday, and the first day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament. Hang in there, Aminishiki! You surprisingly came back to the makuuchu division at the age of 37.
One week has passed since President Trump landed on Japan, the starting point for a round of visits in Asia. He will stay for another week around Asia. Hope no trouble at all.

Super Azusa 15 started just at noon from JR Shinjuku Station.
Our 12th car of reserved seats were unexpectedly and disappointedly almost empty. Thanks to it, I enjoyed a comfortable train ride for 2.5 hours.

First, I took lunch of sandwitches bought on the station premises.
When the train passed Kokubunji Station, I took out a notebook and began to write anything coming out in mind.
I wrote "Nowadays at the Age of 77, 2017" just half a year ago (The 103rd Story of Zakki-cho Square). I intend to have a sequel to it. The scribbled note may appear before long in a certain article......

The train has arrived at Kobuchizawa Station during scribbling. It is before 2:00 pm. Nearly one hour is left until Shiojiri Station. And then we still have to spend more than one hour to Shirahone Spa by car. The hotel arrival would be around 4:00 in the evening.

The inside of the train is rather hot than warm due to the heat. It is nothing but fine outside with no cloud and no wind. The fields, woods and far mountains passing over the window are at the highest of fall with red and yellow leaves of mottled patterns.

Getting to Shiojiri Station at 2:25 pm, we noticed at the ticket gate a hotel staff was welcoming us with a small flag. The guests were two couples including us.
The staff led us to the parking lot and explained, letting us get on a wagon, "This area is at an altitude of 700 meters. Shirahone is less than 50 km away, but its altitude is 1,400 meters. Therefore, after riding a while, the road becomes a steep hill. Please accept it beforehand."

What he said was proved right. On the way until the hill, the road was surrounded by full red leaves and a lot of apple trees. On the other hand, as soon as the wagon entered the mountain trail, it was absolutely no more feast for the eyes. The wagon, repeating gear changes, jolted endlessly from side to side, up and down.
Finally when the sign of Shirahone Spa appeared, all of us breathed a sigh of relief. The arrival at Tsuruya Inn was just before 4:00 pm.

The difference of altitude is clear, sure enough.
The red leaves were still in the highest down around Shiojiri all right, but they are said all over one week ago up at this altitude.

We are here at Shirahone Spa of the cloudy hot springs called "Getting no cold for 3 years by bathing for 3 days."
I immediately went to the bath room, impatient at changing clothes to yukata, and soaked my shoulders deep in the large hot spring bath, letting the open-air bath tomorrow.
Emiko seemed to bathe later.

Dinner was from 6:00 pm with a variety of dishes. But Emiko seemed to be not in a good appetite. I drank beer and sake with the dishes as a side snack.

Not knowing why, I got tipsy earlier than usual. Both of us were sorry for leftovers and back to the room.
After watching TV for a while, I went to bed. Emiko was still watching TV. "When will she bathe?"

Detour a little

The following was written on the chopstick pouch at the dinner table.

Shirahone Song
 わたしゃ しらほね 遂通し(ついどおし)
  抜けて流れて 梓川
   末は犀川 千曲川
    いずれ苦労は 信濃川
  だがね トントン

I am Shirahone Tsuidohshi
Passing through it to Azusa River
Ending to Sai River and Chikuma River
My hardship will then go down to Shinano River
But, you know, ton ton

The Origin of Shirahone Spa
The bathtub is called a hot-water boat. Since cristals of limestone are stuck to the edge and so it becomes like a white boat, it used to be called Shira-Fune (a white boat).
The present name "Shirahone" has been so called, before we knew it, because the limestone looks like a white bone.