Plan for the day 13
Our plan was to go up Mount Komagatake and spend a night at Hotel Senjojiki which was located at Senjojiki Cirque at 2,612 metres above sea level. To go up to Mount Komagatake we had to take a bus from the Suganodai Bus center which would bring us to Shirabidaira Station. At Shirabidaira Station we would transfer to a gondola and go up to Senjojiki Cirque by a ropeway. The upper ropeway station and Hotel Senjojiki were housed in the same building.
Breakfast at Chisun Inn Suka
After too many standard breakfasts at Toyoko Inn Hotels we were only too glad to see a different sort of simple breakfast at Chisun Inn Saku. Breakfast was free and though there were similar items like rice, miso soup and salad somehow the taste was different. Maybe it was the mind playing tricks but seeing the food in plates and bowl of different design pattern made the breakfast taste different.
On our way to Mt Kiso Komagatake
This morning the sky was still gloomy and the drizzle that started last evening still had not stopped. Our journey up to Mt Kiso Komagatake would be by three modes of transport – car, bus and cable car. The first part of the journey started from our hotel, we drove for about 50 km in about one hour to Komagane Suganodai Bus center. We did not use the tolled expressway as the non-tolled road that went along the same direction looked rather car-lite and did not seem to pass through too many town centres, so driving on the non-tolled road did not slow us down too much and we saved on toll charges .
One km from the bus center there was a ski area (Komagane-kogen Ski Area) so we detoured into the ski area to take a look. We were just trying our luck as some internet reviews mentioned that the ski area was opened till mid May. As expected the ski area was deserted and there was no snow.
When we reached the Komagane Suganadai Bus center we found that the car park opposite the bus stop, where we were supposed to park our car, closed. There was a rope barricade at its entrance. We needed to park and leave our car at this car park before taking the bus to the ropeway station. The stretch of road between the bus stop and the ropeway station was close to private car the whole year round.
Luckily I had the phone number of a Japanese staff, Isawa Tomomi, of Chuo Alps Kanko Co, who had been liaising with me on my booking reservation at Senjojiki Hotel on Mt Komagatake. It seemed that I was at the wrong place. This car park was closed in low peak season. Isawa Tomomi was so kind, she drove down to meet us and lead us to the correct Komagane Suganodai Bus Center.
Komagane Suganodai Bus Center (mapcode: 143 857 728, co-ords: 35.743271, 137.891209)
At the correct komagane Suganodai bus station I submitted my “Reservation form” and paid ¥9800 per person for a package which included return bus trip, return ropeway trip, one night stay at Hotel Senjojiki with dinner and breakfast. This was a special package that I had spotted on https://www.chuo-alps.com which could only be seen when the display language was in Japanese. The package was very value for money. If we were to book the hotel, return bus trip and return ropeway ride separately the total cost of would be twice the amount we paid for the package.
I booked the package by writing in to the company using the email ID (firstname.lastname@example.org) on the website and after a couple of days I received a reply from Isawa Tomomi. Luckily Isawa Tomomi could speak English so she was able to guide me on the procedure to place the booking.
Behind the ticketing office was a huge car park. We paid ¥600 to leave our car there overnight. In front of the ticketing office was a sheltered bus stop and we waited there for our bus, the bus frequency was at 30 minutes interval.
The bus arrived on the dot and we hopped on board. There was 4 other passengers beside us. The next stop was at the bus stop in front of the closed car park where we were earlier on. A short distance later we saw a huge sign board stating that the road ahead was closed to private car. The bus drove on for about 30 minutes stopping at several bus stops along the way. The final stop was Shirabidaira station and everyone alighted.
It was still drizzling and the temperature was turning cold. We went to the 2nd level of the station to board the gondola. The trip was a short 7 minutes along the ride we passed a pylon stating that we were 2531 metres above sea level. The higher we got the heavier was the rain. Sadly there was no clear blue sky and pure white snow, around us was this layer of whitish mist that got denser the higher we went up.
The upper station of gondola was in the same building of Hotel Senjojiki. We walked down a short corridor and came upon a souvenir store, at the end of the store was the restaurant and the check in counter.
All the hotel rooms were on the level above the restaurant. Our room was a Japanese style room with only a wash basin in the room. Toilets were shared facilities just a couple of doors away from our room. The shared bath was a hot onsen on the floor below the restaurant.
The weather was getting from bad to worse. Not only was it raining, strong wind was howling all around the hotel. We could not go out to explore so we went to the hotel restaurant to have our lunch.
If the weather was good we should be able to see a beautiful view of the sky and snow mountain from the windows in the restaurant, unfortunately the lousy weather had turned the scene outside into one whitish greyish mess.
After the meal we saw two old couples coming into the hotel though the door leading to the outside. In my mind I was thinking maybe the situation outside the hotel was not as bad as it seemed. So we put on our rain jackets and pants and ventured outdoor.
We could not wander far from the hotel because it was just too misty and we could not see more than 3 metres ahead. We could only stay close to the external wall of the hotel. We walked the hotel ground and walked down a rocky pathway.
The rocky path way soon gave way to a dirty snow path that went down hill. We had no idea what was down the snow path and decided it would be too dangerous to proceed. We stayed out in the open for about 20 minutes and as there was no where to go we went back into the hotel.
At 4.30 pm I went to the hotel hot spring bath. There were two baths one for man and the other for woman. I only saw one other female guest in the hotel so I was pretty sure that I would be the only bather.
This bath, the highest altitude Japanese hot bath, used the fresh water from the alpine peaks. Since we were stuck in the hotel with nowhere to go, I might as well have a leisurely bath. The bath was gigantic and I had it all to myself! I planned to soak for 30 minutes, I was going to sit in the bath just beside the huge ceiling to floor window and enjoy the ice cool scenery as I soaked. Unfortunately the water was too hot and I could not last more than five minutes in the water.
I was wondered why I could not last long in the bath, could it that if there were more bathers then the water would not be so hot?
Our dinner was a simple meal. Pork soup and rice. It was not as elaborate as those of four other diners at the next table. Our dinner was part of a package which included room, dinner, breakfast, ropeway and bus trip, this package did not allowed us to choose a different dinner choice.
After dinner we were back in our room. There was no star lit sky as the rain and wind were still going strong. There was nothing to do but surf the internet and watch the latest most popular Korean drama, Descendants of Sun. It was a great thing that we had rented an unlimited data mobile router on this trip. We no longer had to rely on hotel wifi. I had no idea if Hotel Senjojiki had wifi as it did not matter to us.
Plan for day 14
Our original plan was to leave Mt Kiso Komagatake after checking out of Hotel Sejojiko at 10 am. Then we would drive east to River Nagara in Gifu which was 160 km eastward. Along the way we would stop to explore Ena Dam. We should be able to reach River Nagara by about 6.30 pm and would be in time to purchase the “Cormorant Fishing show” tickets. The fishing show started at 7.30 pm and by 9 pm we would drive to Gifu town where I had already booked a room at Toyoko Inn Gifu-hashima-eki Shinkansen for the night.
Unfortunately the entire plan was abandoned because we were stranded on Mt Kiso Komagatake till 4pm! We would not be in time Cormorant fishing show so we just drove as far east as we could.
Breakfast at Hotel Senjojiki
Breakfast was quite a miserable affair. It consisted of three rice dumplings, tea and miso soup and some black sticky stuff. I did not like the breakfast at all. It was also during breakfast when we received the bad news. The ropeway ride was suspended till the rain and wind lessen.
Stranded in Hotel Senjijoki, Mt Kiso Komagatake
We were coped up in the hotel with no where to go. The hotel management told us we needed not vacate the hotel room at check out time. We could use the room until the ropeway resumed operation. While waiting we continued watching the Korean drama “Descendants of the Sun”. At noon a staff came to knock at our door and invited us to the restaurant for a free lunch. By 3 pm, I went online to cancel my hotel booking at Toyoko Inn Gifu as there was still no news of leaving the mountain. An hour later we were finally told that the ropeway would bring us down the mountain at 4.30 pm.
One of our main purposes for coming up Mt Kiso Komagatake was to do some star glazing and with such poor weather there was nothing to see last night or tonight. We were so glad to be able to leave Hotel Senjojiki.
At 4.30 pm, two of us, four other guests and a few hotel staff boarded the gondola and started our trip down the mountain.
By about 5.15 pm we reached our car at Komagane Suganodai Bus Center.
There was no way we could reach River Nagara by 7 pm to be in time for the Cormorant Fishing show. Today was also the first day of the show that ran from 11 May to 15 Oct and we expected many visitors at this first show. Arriving late would meant not getting a place on the boat.
We had to abandon the show and just drive as far east as possible, find a place for the night and start the next day nearer to location of our next sightseeing destination.
From my google map we figured we could drive as far as Tsuruga which was about 245 km away and would required 3 hours of driving. We had been coped up in a hotel for two days and we were not in the hurry to check into another hotel.
We decided to drive on the tolled road all the way to Tsuruga city and the toll charges came up to ¥5470. Mid way we stopped at a expressway rest stop, Owari Ichinomiya for dinner.
Accommodation for the Night
On the way to Tsuruga city, I went online and booked a twin room at Toyoko Inn Tsuruga Ekimae. The cost was ¥7695 for the room and ¥500 for car parking for the night. By the time we reached the hotel it was already near to 9.30 pm.