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The highlight of my last trip to Japan was the stay at the 400 year old Kokuya ryokan in the hot spring town of Shibu Onsen in Nagano.
We booked a room with its own private hot spring bath on the balcony, partially covered and from where we saw a snow monkey on the roof. Both the kaiseki dinner and sumptuous breakfast with the ryokan's own onsen eggs were exceptional, and we ate in our own private dining room on tatami mats, wearing our yukata.
The next day we took a long walk up to see the famous snow monkeys of Jigokudani, where they bathe in their own hot spring.
Afterwards, we attended a private soba noodle class with a local lady that the ryokan had arranged. We ate our own noodles with other little dishes that she kindly prepared for us, including homemade pickles. A truly magical trip!
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