, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 photo DSC_0678.jpg

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

 photo DSC_0643.jpg

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.

 photo DSC_0460.jpg
Mostly green still on Mt. Myogi

 photo DSC_0462.jpg  photo DSC_0483.jpg
More colors on the Usui-Karuizawa pass

 photo DSC_0464.jpg

 photo DSC_0488.jpg  photo DSC_0496.jpg
Up on the bridge

 photo DSC_0508.jpg
Colors near where we had lunch in Karuizawa

 photo DSC_0510.jpg
Colors in Karuizawa

 photo DSC_0531.jpg
First look at Onioshidashi Koen

 photo DSC_0547.jpg  photo DSC_0554.jpg  photo DSC_0561.jpg
The temple and temple bell at Onioshidashi, with Mt. Asama in the background

 photo DSC_0572.jpg
My first shuuin in my new book!

 photo DSC_0573.jpg
Incense burning at the temple

 photo DSC_0587.jpg
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.

 photo DSC_0714.jpg

 photo DSC_0626.jpg
A small enshrined buddha

 photo DSC_0627.jpg
Heading onto one of the walking paths around the park

 photo DSC_0634.jpg
Kenji trying to get a good picture

 photo DSC_0662.jpg  photo DSC_0650.jpg  photo DSC_0690.jpg
More pictures of the park

 photo IMG_0680.jpg
A list of some of the leaves that have nice colors in the park

 photo IMG_0692.jpg
Beautiful colors in Kita-Karuizawa on our way to the hotel

 photo IMG_0696.jpg
A tree near our hotel, this maple has the full range of colors

 photo IMG_0724.jpg  photo DSC_0762.jpg
Dinner at the western curry restaurant

 photo IMG_0725.jpg  photo DSC_0768.jpg
And one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted at the french bakery next door. This thing was GOOD!

Day Two

 photo IMG_0748.jpg

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.

 photo DSC_0737.jpg  photo DSC_0788.jpg  photo IMG_0721.jpg
Trees outside our hotel before leaving

 photo DSC_0800.jpg
The view from the highest floor in the hotel

 photo IMG_0711.jpg
The hotel onsen. There was nobody in there so I could get a quick picture!

 photo DSC_0808.jpg  photo DSC_0811.jpg
Motorcycle museum

 photo DSC_0829.jpg
There was also a Volcano museum, but we didn’t go

 photo DSC_0819.jpg  photo DSC_0820.jpg
Onioshidashi Koen from the museum area

 photo DSC_0839.jpg
Leaves and spider webs

 photo DSC_0848.jpg  photo DSC_0867.jpg  photo DSC_0869.jpg
The first falls was split into two. Here are the upper and lower falls of Asama Ootaki

 photo DSC_0854.jpg  photo DSC_0860.jpg  photo DSC_0871.jpg
Asama Ootaki

 photo DSC_0906.jpg
And Uodome no Taki a little further down

 photo DSC_0914.jpg
Colors are already past peak on the mountains near the falls

 photo DSC_0928.jpg  photo DSC_0941.jpg
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.

 photo DSC_0942.jpg  photo DSC_0950.jpg  photo DSC_0961.jpg
Around Shiraito no Taki

 photo IMG_0743.jpg
Going back to Karuizawa via the Shiraito highway was magical. The colors here were the best I’ve ever seen… so beautiful!