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This past weekend was yet another three day weekend. We had a typhoon roll in on Friday and Saturday, but as Sunday and Monday were supposed to be nice, we did some last-minute planning and decided to take a two-day motorcycle trip to Onioshidashi Koen on Mt. Asama, which straddles Gunma and Nagano prefectures and is near the resort town of Karuizawa. For a hastily planned trip, it turned out really well!

Day One

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We started the morning by heading out early towards Mt. Myogi, the same road we took two weeks earlier to see the cosmos flowers. The flowers are most likely gone by now, but the fall colors still haven’t started to show much in the lower elevations, so the mountain was still mostly green.

We then headed past Myogi to the Usui-Karuizawa pass road, which has the famous Annaka Megane-bashi bridges on it, left over from an old railroad track. These nice brick bridges are now a walking path spanning the length of the road, but you can also park and walk up to the main one, which we did. The colors were more prominent in this area, but still not at peak.

From there, we headed into Karuizawa for lunch at an Italian restaurant, then, bypassing all the weekend traffic, headed north up a toll road to reach Onioshidashi Koen in the early afternoon.

Onioshidashi Koen is a park enclosing magma formations caused by an explosion in the 1700s which cooled to form interesting and unique rocks. There are plants growing in the rocks that are in full fall colors now, as well as a temple to visit, and some walking paths around the park. It is a really neat, interesting place!

After exploring the park for a couple hours, we headed into Kita-Karuizawa (really the town of Naganohara on the Gunma side) to check into our hotel and to walk to dinner. We had dinner at a Western curry restaurant which was very good, then headed next door to a French bakery place for an excellent dessert. We were pretty tired by then, so after enjoying the onsen at the hotel, went to bed pretty early.

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Mostly green still on Mt. Myogi

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More colors on the Usui-Karuizawa pass

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Megane-bashi

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Up on the bridge

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Colors near where we had lunch in Karuizawa

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Colors in Karuizawa

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First look at Onioshidashi Koen

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The temple and temple bell at Onioshidashi, with Mt. Asama in the background

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My first shuuin in my new book!

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Incense burning at the temple

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A so-so pictures of us. Kenji always complains that other people we ask can’t take pictures as good as he can. He is usually right.

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Kenji

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A small enshrined buddha

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Heading onto one of the walking paths around the park

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Kenji trying to get a good picture

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More pictures of the park

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A list of some of the leaves that have nice colors in the park

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Beautiful colors in Kita-Karuizawa on our way to the hotel

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A tree near our hotel, this maple has the full range of colors

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Dinner at the western curry restaurant

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And one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted at the french bakery next door. This thing was GOOD!

Day Two

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Day two found us eating a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and heading to the onsen one last time before leaving. We went back to the Onioshidashi Koen area to see the motorcycle museum, then went to a few different waterfalls before heading back to Gunma in the late afternoon.

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Trees outside our hotel before leaving

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The view from the highest floor in the hotel

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The hotel onsen. There was nobody in there so I could get a quick picture!

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Motorcycle museum

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There was also a Volcano museum, but we didn’t go

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Onioshidashi Koen from the museum area

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Leaves and spider webs

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The first falls was split into two. Here are the upper and lower falls of Asama Ootaki

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Asama Ootaki

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And Uodome no Taki a little further down

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Colors are already past peak on the mountains near the falls

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Shiraito no Taki, a famous falls that is really short (only 3 meters), but long (over 70 meters) and appears to just magically come out of the rocks.

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Around Shiraito no Taki

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Going back to Karuizawa via the Shiraito highway was magical. The colors here were the best I’ve ever seen… so beautiful!

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