Our Japan trip 2013: Takayama to Nagano

We could have travelled by fast train to Nagoya, but chose the more picturesque route using local trains. This took us through the Hida, the Japanese Alps, rather than through the flat lands with wall to wall residential. We went Minoota-Tajimi, then Shinanano Express with large viewing windows to Nagano. This express was disappointingly one minute late, arriving at 16.55 pm (someone would have their knuckles rapped!).
We passed incredibly beautiful scenery – wild gorges, rivers, waterfalls, steep forested hillsides, towering mountains, hydro-electric dams, tiny villages clinging to patches of land, with all available ground covered in rice paddies, vegetable gardens and fruit orchards; small shrines and temples, groves of Japanese cedar trees, family graveyards, workers in the fields, older villages with architectural features that kept houses as warm as possible during the long winter months.
We descended into Nagano down into a valley, again with great views and landscapes. Nagano has a well planned railway station, the legacy of the Winter Olympics in 1998, and wide modern streets. It is the centre of soba noodle production, because the buckwheat that is used to make this noodle flourishes here.
More on Nagano next…..

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