The overnight trip to Nagano was on impulse with very little research or preparation. As it turned out, it was a week before a big festival in town. Had I planned for that weekend, not only would it have been difficult to find a room, the people at inns would have been too busy to deal with me while running the event. The electricity poles along the main street were padded in the morning when I came back to town from the bike ride. It looks like the festival involves some actions. Maybe next time…
Before arriving in town, I looked at a map and figured, 6.5 km is not an impossible distance for walk if it comes to that. I was half hoping that there is a bus or a train early morning. Little did I realise how overly optimistic I was. When I spoke to people at the inn about it, they basically dismissed me for being crazy to think of walking the distance in the dark (and rain). Instead, they suggested, there was a rental bike shop in town, managed by a large accommodation around the corner. They rang up the hotel and confirmed I could rent a bike. I decided to go over to have a look. The lovely daughter-in-law of the proprietress (the hostess) of the inn offered to show me the way to this hotel. Turned out, this young lady who married into the family that runs the inn, is also from the western part of the country, from a town called Kakogawa, a bit to the west beyond Kobe.
The junior host of the hotel and the bike shop, a tall gentleman who is apparently originally from the states, was out to watch Hanshin Tigers baseball team playing in this town that evening. His teenager son offered to help me out. He rang up his dad to confirm the rate, find out where the keys were, etc. The rental shop was still very new, opened only a couple of months prior, and the bikes looked brand-new. (Sorry, I lost my diary on which I wrote down this handsome young man’s name, etc.) In response to my specific request to use the bike from pre-dawn hour, they kindly let me borrow the bike from the night before. From the selection of bikes from mountain downhill, to comfortable around-town bike, I picked an urban cross-cycle. It ran quite well and made my job so much easier, despite the drizzle.
They also run tours, taking people around places in and around town according to your wishes. May I suggest you include renting a bike at Zukudashi and dipping in Kamiyamada hot spring after in your itinerary.
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