japan holiday day 5 / walking in a winter wonderland.

I LOVE KARUIZAWA. This day was such a magical Christmassy day. We’d been crossing our fingers for snow, but unfortunately the weather warmed up just a liiiiittle bit too much! Snow was due on the 24th though, which is nice ๐Ÿ™‚ We weren’t there anymore, but I hope Karuizawa did get a white Christmas! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, snow or no snow, Karuizawa is this picture-perfect winter wonderland, and being there at Christmas-time just feels like a storybook ๐Ÿ™‚


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We took a very adorable old train out to the Hoshino area.

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Arriving in Hoshino!

Here comes the crazy part…

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I didn’t make this up, I went ice skating in a forest at Christmas time, it’s true. Here’s some proof:




Glen and I!


And Vera too!

I was very proud of myself for doing this because I was feeling quite anxious about the whole falling on the ice deal, but at the same time I wanted to do this so badly, so I stuck with it and after about an hour I was skating around comfortably on my own and the anxiety didn’t beat meย ๐Ÿ™‚ CAUSE I CAN DO ANYTHING ๐Ÿ™‚

After we finished skating, we had a little walk around theย reserve that the ice skating borders (the Asama National Wildlife Protection Area).

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Uncle Melvin and Vera walking in the distance.

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A classic Glen photo – just curious as to what this ice is like to step on…

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Auntie Carol and Glen ๐Ÿ™‚

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Me ๐Ÿ˜›

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Then we went to warm up with some yummy hot soba!

We went to the Karuizawa old town, and spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around.

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There are lots of pretty little streets with cute shops.

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A lovely little church!

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Shopping time!

I am currently working on a breathing exercise to help with the panic attacks that I need to do 4 times a day, which can be a bit tricky and time consuming, especially when on holiday, but I’m doing my best to squeeze it in! Glen and I found this very tranquil little cafe that was a perfect spot for doing some breathing for a while! They were even playing soothing piano music ๐Ÿ˜›

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So peaceful!

There were also lots of pretty Christmas lights ๐Ÿ™‚

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And these cute ice cream lights are everywhere?!
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For dinner we took a taxi to a sushi place but it turned out to be closed, so we asked the taxi driver to take us to a sushi place, and he took us to this really out of the way little traditional place that was AMAZING. The couple that own the shop were so cute, and the food was delicious!!

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Such a nice time!

Later we went out to an onsen, the Japanese hot springs. I was a tad nervous about this, because although I do love hot springs, I have never been totally naked at the hot springs. We have hot springs in New Zealand, which like Japan, is a volcanic country… but we really just treat ours the same way you would hot pools – you get into your togs, have a dip, rinse off, get dressed and go home. So, although I am used to thermal springs, the experience of onsen was a pretty foreign concept to me!

I was totally surprised by how revitalising I found the whole experience. The nakedness WAS A TAD WEIRD but only for about the first two minutes, and then it’s sort of like, oh well, everyone is naked, so it doesn’t really matter. And then after a while, it becomes quite comfortable actually. Without clothing and brands and fashion and all of that, suddenly everyone is on an even footing, you know? It was this great reminder about how equal everybody is. I felt a sort of sense of kinship with the women around me, which was pretty cool.

The other thing that really surprised me about the onsen was the ritualistic aspect of it. You get completely clean first, even down to washing your hair and removing your makeup, and then you bathe in the thermal springs, and then you wash upย again, and then there’s hair dryers and moisturisers and things at these little tables to use once you’re dried off, and by the time you leave, you’re completely all over totally clean and fully relaxed and it’s a really amazing feeling.

Today was a day of besting my anxiety and of Christmassy fun times, with a dose of peacefulness to finish up ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a good one!








2 thoughts on “japan holiday day 5 / walking in a winter wonderland.

  1. Julie Wilson says:

    Hi Sarah, I remember my first Onsen in Japan as a 19 yr old… a little scary. Surprised you relaxed in to it so quickly!!! Well done!!! I’ve had lots of those experiences since then (Koreans love that style of bathing as well)… but the first time when you are unsure was for me the most memorable…!!!


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