Chapter 19:

Nagano: Chapter 15

The Kimochi Warui Diary


It was dark when we arrived in Nagano. The air was moist and threatened a chance of rain. Luckily, our hotel wasn’t far. We followed my phone’s GPS through dimly lit streets until we found it: Bookmark here

A large, wooden sign displaying the name of the hostel, along with wood-carved depictions of rabbits and trees. Bookmark here

We checked in, dumped our backpacks off in our room, and spent some time hanging out in the lobby. There was a low table where other travelers had gathered and shared a pot of tea.Bookmark here

In particular, one foreign couple was sharing their experiences. They seemed like your average young tourists—checking out Japan as just one of the many places on their travel list. Bookmark here

“Oh my god,” the girl said. “If you have a chance, you’ve got to see the snow monkeys.”Bookmark here

“The snow monkeys?” asked one of the other travelers. Bookmark here

“That’s right,” the girl’s young husband said. “There’s a monkey park up in the mountains. You have to do a bit of hiking until you reach a hot spring, but it’s worth it. A bunch of these snow monkeys gather there to bathe and play with each other. You can get up real close and take as many pictures as you’d like!”Bookmark here

I looked it up on my phone as they spoke. The first picture was, sure enough, a steaming hot spring filled with dozens of red-faced, furry monkeys. Flakes of snow were stuck in their fur; the rocks behind them capped with snow.Bookmark here

Sigh… More gimmicky tourist shit. Fortunately for us, we’ll be making our way to Kanazawa and won’t have any time for it. Bookmark here

Jotaro and I stuck around the lobby to finish off the tea, but it was getting late—everyone was turning in for the night. We followed suit and went up to our own room.Bookmark here

“Well,” I said. “Guess it’s time to unroll the futons. It sure is chilly in this room, but you know, I kind of—"Bookmark here

When I turned around, I saw that Jotaro was still standing in front of the door. He hadn’t budged an inch.Bookmark here

I flipped on the lights—his gaze was transfixed on something an impossible distance away. He spoke just two words under his breath:Bookmark here

“Snow monkeys.”Bookmark here

Good grief… but I laughed. I should have seen this coming from miles away. Bookmark here

Okay, okay… I’ve learned my lesson. Set course for snow monkeys!Bookmark here


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That night, I went to work revising the plans. I’d have to sketch out which trains to take—and when—while ensuring we could still make it to our hotels on their respective check-in dates. Bookmark here

But no one can gain without sacrificing something—it seemed increasingly more likely that Kanazawa wouldn’t fit in the plans anymore. I’d have to say “sayonara” to my visions of a cherry blossom petal landing in my lunch.Bookmark here

Bzzz! Bzzz! Bookmark here

Torako just replied to a message I’d sent some minutes ago.Bookmark here

“tHe SnOw MoNkEyS! THE SNOW MONKEYS! [Watashi], your brother is such a normie.”Bookmark here

I sent a sticker of anime character waving her hand dismissively. Bookmark here

“I know, I know, but it’ll be a nice change of pace. Plus, I sort of owe it to him.”Bookmark here

I went ahead mapping out a new train route—one that would take us from Nagano to Osaka. But something wasn’t right.Bookmark here

That’s odd… For some reason, the train app wasn’t giving me a direct path. It wanted me to take several stops in between.Bookmark here

It wasn’t until I looked over the railway map that I made the horrifying discovery…Something that would prevent us from reaching Kanazawa or the snow monkeys entirely.Bookmark here

I sent Torako a sticker. This one had an anime girl with a pained, but reserved, expression—like she was holding it all in except for the single bead of sweat forming above her head.Bookmark here

“Torako… There’s no bullet train from Nagano to Osaka.”Bookmark here

“…?”Bookmark here

“EVERYTHING IS FUCKED. THE TRAIN RIDE TO OSAKA IS FIVE HOURS!!”Bookmark here

Due to the mountainous region, it was impossible for a bullet train to take us from Nagano to Osaka—something that hadn’t even crossed my mind until discovering it for myself.Bookmark here

Our only option was to take normal train cars—which would be running even slower due to the terrain. If I wanted to make time for snow monkeys, I’d have to cancel every hotel I’d booked in advance, eating both the reservation fees and the cancellation fees.Bookmark here

Not only that, but finding more hotel rooms on such short notice would be extremely risky.Bookmark here

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“Calm down, [Watashi]…” Torako said. “Show me a map of where you’re at. I have an idea.”Bookmark here

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