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Photographer's Note

Take a bus up the mountains for 90 mins from Takayama and you reach Shin-Hotaka ropeway. A ropeway spanning just over 3 kilometers, repute to be the longest in Asia. The cable car brign you to 3200m and the Shin-Hotaka Onsen (Hot mineral springs). In the summer you can hike around the area, but for now a short walk in the snow was enough. We sank up to our knees (at least) (photo of my son after stepping out of the cable car in WS) at every step and the rarity of the air plus the fact that we were laughing so much meant we didnt have the strength to continue. It was also bitter cold.

Getting naked, hot and wet with a bunch of total strangers is perhaps the most quintessentially Japanese thing to do. There are thousands of onsen (natural thermal hot springs) scattered the length of Japan, perhaps a bequest from the gods made as a sort of natural compensation for all of the earthquakes. No earthquakes equals no onsens, and the Japanese are in general fairly happy with the tradeoff. The difference between onsen and sento (public bath-houses) is the water itself (onsen water comes from deep underground, often containing many different minerals, whereas sento water is usually town water from local reservoirs). The mineral content of almost every onsen in Japan is slightly different, and many onsens use the healing effects of their particular mineral mix in their marketing.

Shin Hotaka was in a particularly pleasent setting. Laying in the onsen surrounded by snow.

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Additional Photos by Elaine springford (everlasting) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 786 W: 66 N: 1998] (14496)
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