Last weekend my wife and I went on the overnight Kurobe Dam bus Tour.  After a 30 minute train ride from Kawashi-dai to Hon-Atsugi station we enjoyed a burger king breakfast before boarding the bus that would take us on a long adventurous eight hour journey that included rest breaks at some of the most beautiful rest stops, plenty of bento’s and temperatures that started in the high 70’s with sunny skies in Kanagawa  to the snowy single digits in Nagano.

Not to mention the awesome bus driver who was cool as a cucumber while maneuvering that huge bus along the winding mountain roads (while snowing) at heights of 2,700 meters high.  I was sitting at a window seat so when I looked down I saw trees that looked like small fingers and a guard rail that was made of three strands of cable I was like “COOL”.  With all that said, we finally arrived at the Hotel Grace in Hakuba.  Upon our arrival at the Hotel Grace which is a casual hotel that’s situated against the breathtaking backdrop of the Northern Alps, after that long journey we were warmly greeted by the hotel staff who showed us to our rooms and later prepared a beautiful Japanese style dinner fit for a king (a slim king).


 *Click on the thumbnail to view a larger image*



After dinner me and wifey took a evening stroll outside the hotel,   bought a few souvenirs for family and friends, and later returned to the hotel for a good night’s sleep in preparation for the real deal starting tomorrow.  At 05:30 we woke up to a beautiful sunny Saturday morning, packed our bags in preparation for a 06:30 Japanese style breakfast (a few more months of Japanese style meals I’ll be ready for the beach), afterwards we took a nice walk around the area and from the distance you can see the ski slopes that were used for the 1998 Nagano Olympics, and along the road you can see signs with arrows pointing in that direction proudly displaying the fact.




Before leaving the hotel one of the staff members said to me in English that she would like to introduce me to her husband, I said no problem, I  was expecting a Japanese gentleman, but to my surprise I was like “ “damn” a brotha (yes a black dude) named Spencer from Nigera.   If you’ve been in Japan any amount of time you’ll more than likely see black men married to Japanese women, so that’s no surprise, but to see a black man in these parts working in a small traditional Japanese hotel like this one, now those chances are very remote.  Yes, that was a trip, I never thought I’d see black people in these parts, even Spencer was surprised to see me (yes, I’m a black dude too).

Some of the rest stops were pretty interesting; rest stops in Japan are some of the best one’s I’ve ever seen, from the normal grab something to eat and a restroom break, to one with a Shetland pony and goat barn and for a small fee you can feed them, to one called Swiss Village (I didn’t see much Swiss going on) and last but not least, one with a huge mall and a massive food court that included a Peters Gourmet Burger .

Between the bus rides, mountain cable pulley trains (we reached the 2,940 meter height), electric trolley cars (that took us through the Kanden Tunnel), and the Tateyama to Kurobe Alpine route, walking and stair climbing (that seemed like forever), most buildings don’t have elevators or escalators I ended up with “BUN’S OF STEEL” but it was all good.  Also there were many people from different parts of the world to check out the majestic scenery that included the Kurobe Dam and the Snow Wall that reached heights of almost 30 feet.  I also left my mark “BlackManInJapan.com” on the side of the snow wall.






I also encourage you to check out the website on the Kurobe Dam Tour and the challenges of building the Kurobe Dam during the post war period with lack of electric power.



All photos by Harry Maison a.k.a BlackManInJapan


(and sometimes pretty good nature photographer too)

Peace & Namaste


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