Camping in Yamanashi
For winter break I rented a van and went camping in Yamanashi with a side trip to Nagoya. Late December is a questionable time for camping with my 3-season gear, but the weather was cooperative. I first stayed at one free campground with a steep approach road that looked to be dangerous as hell if it ever froze over, especially in the large rental van with regular tires, and later found a spot at a nearby commercial campground.
Mt. Minobu is a mountain with a massive temple complex on it. You can walk around for free. I took the cable car up to the summit and leisurely strolled down the side of the mountain, before having hoto, a Yamanashi soup, for lunch. Because the weather for most of the trip was sunny, with almost no precipitation, walking around outside was great. As long as you don't go too fast and work up a sweat, you're good to go for hours. Another good point of the location in southern Yamanashi is the frequent views of Mt. Fuji to the south and the Japanese Alps to the north. Many of the smaller valleys have parking lots with trails leading up local mountains, and the scenery is nice wherever you go.
In early January I drove down to Nagoya, stayed in a hotel there for a couple of nights, and took a trip into the city. Marjorie told me to go see the ikemen gorilla at the Higashiyama Zoo. Later in the day I walked down to Nagoya Castle, which is quite majestic.
On the last day I drove halfway back to Tokyo, did another short day hike, slept overnight in the van at a rest area overnight, and finished off the jaunt.
My old plan was to travel with my parents during the break. Sadly, Omicron struck in late November and the Japanese government extended the quarantine for re-entry in Japan. As a result, people with in-person full-time jobs such as myself found it impossible to travel abroad. On the one hand, the Prime Minister's anti-foreigner policies are frustrating and accomplish little. On the other hand, domestic tourist spots are less crowded than they otherwise would be, and international travel during the Covid Era has always been a dice roll. So it goes. That aside, it was a nice break.