Tag Archives: komagane

Japan 2014 – 47 A Bus Trip back to Tokyo Narita Airport (2014-10-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 29 DEC 2015

So, with a ride up a mountain and a wedding done right, our two week holiday in the magnificent country that is Japan had finally come to an end.

All that was left were a few last visits with the newly extended Brown family, before Ryan and I packed our bags and joined Hester and Terry on the highway bus back to Toyko (a particularly long trip!), where our flight out of Narita Airport would happily be waiting for us.

(Unselfishly, Terrance and Yuko also made the long drive to Tokyo with us – eager to say good bye to the tiny South African contingent that had come up for their big day, and at the same time probably to ensure that nothing went wrong our final adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun!)

IMG_20141013_125632 terrance and yuko brown on a highway bus trip back to narita airport

The trip back to Cape Town was long but uneventful. We flew once again with Emirates, stopping over at Dubai International Airport as they do, before winging our way back to sunny South Africa.

Ryan of course struggled, which makes sense considering how squashed he is sitting next to me, but I enjoyed a good flight home, taking in plenty of movies and thinking back rather fondly on what had been a truly awesome trip.

10371988_707022269380931_3723184591114517497_n at narita airport - brothers lotter

My first ever overseas trip had gone smoothly in every aspect, with no hiccups and no bad experiences to tarnish the memory whatsoever.  The country is a perfect blend of modern and ancient, has all the technology someone like me marvels at, is clean, safe and easy to get around in, and the people courteous and almost never in your way – and these observations still hold true for me more than a year on (i.e. when I at last got around to writing all these posts!).

Of course, I owe big thanks to Terrance for his friendship and his time taken out to show us the ropes, Yuko for all her effort in making sure that we had accommodation and the the routes all worked out, and an even more massive thanks to my brother Ryan, without whom this trip simply wouldn’t have happened.

So on that note, thank you to each and every one of you! :)

craig lotter, ryan lotter, yuko omiya, terrance brown in komagane japan 2014

Japan has always been a place that I wanted to visit ever since I was a child, and now that I’ve been there, it is definitely a place that I want to return to – and next time definitely with Chantelle in tow!

Japan 2014 – 46 Komagane – Terrance and Yuko Brown’s Wedding Day (2014-10-12) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 28 DEC 2015

Finally, after nearly two weeks of sightseeing in Japan, the real reason for Ryan and I being in the country was at last upon us.

Amazingly, our smart clothes that had journeyed with us still looked reasonably smart, which was a good thing considering the fact that in Japan, weddings are usually quite a smart affair.

The day had arrived. Longtime friend Terrance was to marry the girl of his dreams, Yuko.

IMG_20141012_104800 yuko and terrance brown wedding pamphlet, komagane, japan

We were ferried to Komagane from Ina by Yuko’s father, who we had now met a handful of times over the course of the last couple of days – a tricky venture considering the fact that he doesn’t have any English and we have no Japanese.

However, we made it to the hotel together with Hester and Terry (Terrance’s parents) with plenty of time to spare, and we were ushered to a room where we were to wait with any other arriving family before being allowed into another room where the two families would get to see Yuko and Terrance in their traditional wedding outfits and be introduced to one another.

IMG_20141012_113405 yuko, terrance, terry and hester brown and the wedding, komagane, japan

The wedding ceremony itself was short and sweet, and hilariously, the first thing to go wrong on our entire Japanese trip went and happened at the ceremony itself – the lady priest forgot an important symbolic step of the ceremony!

IMG_20141012_114218 yuko and terrance brown getting married, komagane, japan

Luckily she remembered it on the way out, and so the entire guest contingent was ushered to the outside courtyard where Yuko and Terrance once again made a grand appearance and completed their ceremony to the cheers of everyone there!

(And by cheers, I do of course mean strict silence, with jubilation strictly happening once the go ahead was given. Very, very disciplined the Japanese.)

IMG_20141012_120012 terrance and yuko wedding segment, komagane, japan

Naturally, it was an absolutely awesome experience and such a privilege that Ryan and I could be there to witness Terrance and Yuko’s big day!

IMG_20141012_121557 ryan and craig lotter, with yuko and terrance brown at their wedding, komagane, japan

Of course, no wedding can be complete without a big reception (even if there isn’t really any dancing at a Japanese wedding), and we were seated down in a beautifully decorated room for a series of speeches and of course food.

Lots and lots of food – seven courses if I remember correctly!

(NOTE: Chantelle is absolutely furious that I took one single photo of all that interesting Japanese cuisine!)

IMG_20141012_123146 wedding food at terrance and yuko's wedding in komagane, japan

(Also, Terrance had kindly seated Ryan and myself with some of his colleagues from one of the schools that he had previously taught at, meaning that two or three of the ladies had some English at their disposal, which in turn meant that some decent conversations were actually possible for a change!)

IMG_20141012_133545 ryan and craig lotter, with yuko and terrance brown at their wedding, komagane, japan

We had a lovely time at a lovely wedding for a lovely couple.

In other words, a better end to our two week long holiday in Japan we could not have asked for! :)

Japan 2014 – 45 Under Mt. Komagatake of the Chuo Alps – Suganodai Outdoor Recreation Area (2014-10-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 27 DEC 2015

So having enjoyed the spectacular views of the Chuo Alps thanks to the fantastic Komagatake Ropeway on our last free day before Yuko and Terrance’s wedding, we reluctantly made our way back down the mountain, endured the tricky bus trip back to the starting point in Komagane (tricky because of all the hairpins, combined with the small seats and thus my crushing of Ryan every few seconds), and then relaxed by taking in the views and fresh air by strolling around the tranquil Suganodai Outdoor Recreation Area for a bit .

IMG_20141011_130759 ryan lotter at suganodai outdoor recreation area, komagane

This park has a lot of outdoor views to enjoy, and we found ourselves ambling through the forest walk, enjoying crossing the gorgeous but rather unsteady bridge, spotting beautiful Japanese dogs (which up until now, wasn’t something that we saw very often at all!), and believe it or not, stumbling across some beautifully cared for Volkswagen Beetles of all cars in the process!

IMG_20141011_130351 volkswagen beetle spotted at suganodai outdoor recreation area

Who would have guessed?

IMG_20141011_131531 forest at suganodai outdoor recreation area, komagane

Eventually we called it a day on our solo outing to Komagane (it was a Sunday and we didn’t want to risk missing the train!), and once again we successfully navigated our way back to Ina.

There we strolled around the town for a bit, ducked into the odd shop or two, browsed through a second hand store which made us feel like we were back at home in a Cash Crusaders, and then somehow stumbled into a very large adult store which stocked way more weird pornographic material than one could ever believe possible under a single roof!

We did however find a place that offered food to our liking – i.e. meat – and so we rounded off our evening in Ina with a meal at Cafe Gusto! (Or at least, I think that’s what Terrance translated our logo snapshot that we sent to him to…)

Japan 2014 – 44 Taking the Komagatake Ropeway to ascend Mount Komagatake in Komagane (2014-10-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 26 DEC 2015

Our two week long Japanese sightseeing trip was rapidly coming to an end now. With one day to go to the big day of Yuko and Terrance’s wedding, Ryan and I decided to spend our last day as tourists by taking the Komagatake Ropeway up the local mountain and see a bit of the famous Chuo Alps.

IMG_20141011_111031 craig lotter on mount komagatake of the chuo alps, komagane, japan

To get there we first needed to navigate from Ina to Komagane via train, slightly trickier than in the big cities because out here no English language signage is available.

Nevertheless, we managed easily enough (really, it’s essential to hire a data modem for the duration of your trip – an invaluable tool in this day and age!), and once in Komagane, we made our way up to the bus station where we were able to procure our tickets (an expensive outing mind you) up to the cableway station without too many hiccups.

DSC07894 taking the komagatake ropeway up mount komagatake of the chuo alps, komagane, japan

First opened in 1967 (refurbished in 2014 – lucky us, best timing ever!), the Komagatake Ropeway was Japan’s first ever mountain ropeway, and climbs Mount Kisokoma, running up to the Senjojiki Cirque which is directly below Mount Hokendake.

Its summit station is noted as being the highest in terms of altitude cableway station in the country, coming in at an altitude of 2,611.5 m.

(In other words, the views of the Chuo Alps are simply beyond spectacular!)

DSC07899 the komagatake ropeway up mount komagatake of the chuo alps, komagane, japan

Autumn was starting to hit its stride, meaning that the scenic forests on the way up were all starting to turn various shades of orange and red, making for a fiery spectacle on the way up, whilst at the top the landscape was a lot more barren, with loads of beautifully fragile Japanese mountain foliage on display.

DSC07909 vegetation on mount komagatake of the chuo alps, komagane, japan

Of course, that high up the air was pretty crisp and very cold – not that it bothered us South African blokes mind you – shorts and t-shirts all the way! (Much to the amusement of the other mountain travelers in case you were wondering!)

DSC07914 walking up mount komagatake of the chuo alps, komagane, japan

An absolute treat of an excursion and definitely a recommended pit-stop if you ever find yourself travelling through the Kiso Valley and Komagane in particular!

Oh, and of course, Ryan’s stuffed pig got his photo taken as well:

IMG_20141011_102640 ryan lotter on mount komagatake of the chuo alps, komagane, japan

Related Link: Komagatake Ropeway

Japan 2014: An Adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun My Life 07 MAY 2015

In October 2014 I embarked on my very first overseas trip ever – to the one destination that I’ve always wanted to see above all others: Japan.

Terrance, a friend I have known since primary school, has been living in the land of the Rising Sun since 2011, teaching English as part of their JET programme. In that time, he also found a fiancé in the form of Yuko Omiya, and thoroughly besotted with this wonderful woman, the date for their wedding was set: 12 October 2014.

Of course, he was very keen to have any of his South African friends come up and join him and Yuko on their big day, and although it was certainly something that I wanted to do, it wasn’t something that I could actually afford to at the time (you know, all the usual expenses that comes with being a married adult with children and bonds to pay).

However, my brother Ryan certainly could, and as such, he implored and convinced me to join him on the trip – and thus our Japan 2014 adventure was forged!

craig lotter, ryan lotter, yuko omiya, terrance brown in komagane japann 2014

Surprisingly, we didn’t actually put loads of research into the trip, in fact, it boiled down to less than a handful of Skype and e-mail chats with Terrance, and one or two real life meetups for Ryan and myself. However, it took almost no time at all to come up with a plan that would see us in Japan for a period of two weeks, travelling to the metropolitan marvel that is Tokyo, then to the rich spiritual, historic and cultural hub that is Kyoto, and finally enjoying the fresh, more rural air and pace of Ina and Komagane, situated within the Nagano prefecture.

With our destinations and our period of stay in each decided, Yuko handled the task of tracking down affordable accommodation for the two of us (it was much easier to organise that on their side than for us to try and do it from here), while Ryan handled the nitty gritty of all the flight tickets, insurance, etc. – and once the final hurdle of getting our Japanese visas via the embassy in Cape Town was cleared, all that was left was a little bit of wait time until we finally took to the skies.

Needless to say, I was excited as a puppy dog who has just discovered he can actually chase cats and they WILL run away!

terrance brown and yuko omiya wedding - craig and ryan lotter pose with the main attraction

The trip itself was everything I could ever have wished for (I’ll sum it up as amazing, and not at all what I might have imagined), and despite the fact that we actually spent very little time with Terrance and Yuko as a whole, Ryan and I were more than capable of getting around by ourselves in a land where very little English is spoken – and get around we most certainly did!

(Though to be fair, a big thank you to the wonder that is mobile data and Google Maps is in order.)

I’ve got 47 photo albums taken over the course of those 14 incredible days, all neatly sitting on my hard drive, patiently waiting to be uploaded and thus see the light of day – and although it is now nearly a year later (life as a dad to two small kids is so incredibly busy), I think that you’re finally in for a treat.

In other words, prepare for an upcoming deluge of amazing sights courtesy of probably one of my most favourite countries in the whole wide world – this is Japan 2014! :)