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:
A large, wooden sign displaying the name of the hostel, along with wood-carved depictions of rabbits and trees.
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.
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.
“Oh my god,” the girl said. “If you have a chance, you’ve got to see the snow monkeys.”
“The snow monkeys?” asked one of the other travelers.
“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!”
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.
Sigh… More gimmicky tourist shit. Fortunately for us, we’ll be making our way to Kanazawa and won’t have any time for it.
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.
“Well,” I said. “Guess it’s time to unroll the futons. It sure is chilly in this room, but you know, I kind of—"
When I turned around, I saw that Jotaro was still standing in front of the door. He hadn’t budged an inch.
I flipped on the lights—his gaze was transfixed on something an impossible distance away. He spoke just two words under his breath:
Good grief… but I laughed. I should have seen this coming from miles away.
Okay, okay… I’ve learned my lesson. Set course for snow monkeys!
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.
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.
Torako just replied to a message I’d sent some minutes ago.
“tHe SnOw MoNkEyS! THE SNOW MONKEYS! [Watashi], your brother is such a normie.”
I sent a sticker of anime character waving her hand dismissively.
“I know, I know, but it’ll be a nice change of pace. Plus, I sort of owe it to him.”
I went ahead mapping out a new train route—one that would take us from Nagano to Osaka. But something wasn’t right.
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.
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.
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.
“Torako… There’s no bullet train from Nagano to Osaka.”
“EVERYTHING IS FUCKED. THE TRAIN RIDE TO OSAKA IS FIVE HOURS!!”
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.
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.
Not only that, but finding more hotel rooms on such short notice would be extremely risky.
“Calm down, [Watashi]…” Torako said. “Show me a map of where you’re at. I have an idea.”