Firstly, we drove all the way from Tokyo to Kushihara, through snow and sunshine, and caught a glimpse of Mt Fuji on the way:
We had a few more parties in Kushihara after that, with more dancing, more sake and more delicious food from the mountains. (And fireworks, though everyone was too busy nearly getting killed to worry about taking photos). Below are pictures of giant hornet canapes and a delicious termite-tofu salad:
We went to Nagano prefecture, and the snow was incredible. We stayed in Shibu onsen town, in a lovely ryokan which gave us keys to wander freely around the town in yukata, bath-hopping. The ryokan owners also let us use their cooking facilities to make a particularly good pizza. And in the morning, we went to visit the snow monkeys.
I don't have a picture of everyone who came to visit, but this photo (above) was taken on our last day. Shortly after this photo was taken, we made the amazing discovery that the town we were staying in not only appeared to have more hot springs than people, but also happened to be home to a winery, a sake factory and a beer brewery. All of which offered free tastings. A spectacular end to a pretty amazing couple of weeks.
And so..I want to end this blog post with a proper heartfelt thank you, for all of these January adventures :) I was worried about winter. I thought it might be cold and lonely. After all, there are no hornets to hunt, no wasps to chase, no grasshoppers to catch, and the fields are covered in frost (if not snow) on most mornings. But thanks to my friends who came to visit me, and to the generosity of spirit and hospitality of everyone here in Kushihara, I've had an unforgettable start to the year.