The town of Suwa

During onbashira, we explored some interesting places in Suwa and learned a little about its history. Next to one of the shrines is an Edo-era shop selling a salty type of shio yokan. In a country that often eliminates its past, it is amazing to see a small business that preserves traditions. We also visited an Edo era guest house, which still retains a beautiful small garden in a property that shrunk over the generations.

Suwa’s famed lake is stunning. We saw many types of birds, including tonbi (black kite) and ducks.

The town is also known for its hot springs. We saw this early 20th century building which served the silk factory workers and was known for its “stand-up onsen.” Apparently there were too many bathers for them to sit or lie down in the hot water pools.

Tour of Suwa continues after the jump

Based on the number of Western-style “chapels” and bridal costume and photography businesses, it seems that marriage is one of the main industries today. It is hard to understand why Japanese are so fond of faux Christian weddings, and many of the chapels seem to have seen better days gone by. Perhaps many were created in the 1980s Bubble economy, and now the facades are showing signs of deferred maintenance.

It was interesting to see public facilities for foot baths using the abundant hot springs. This one above is across from the lake. We saw another one on the JR platform, inside the station gate.

Lastly, the trip involved many amazing meals: including my first horse meal (sukiyaki and sashimi), eel, soba, and tempura.

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