A little over a 2 hour drive from Nagoya city, Gero Onsen in Gifu Prefecture will have snow when there is none to be seen on the streets of Nagoya to the south. The kids wanted a snowball fight, so this seemed the logical choice to head for. Peaceful and relaxed Gero is an excellent place to unwind over the New Year vacation.
We stayed at Hotel Fujihara, south of the Hida River, a short drive west of JR Gero Station. Built in the 1960s, Fujihara is showing its age, rather grimy surfaces all covered with thousands of maneki neko cats. Insulation? Open your room door and an icy blast will sweep in from the valley outside. The bath, too, is a small affair, not much bigger than most bathrooms at home, but the water is piping hot and there are no curfews.
Fujihara's selling points are its price - just 8,000 yen a night including dinner and breakfast - and its excellent local food. Grilled river fish, local mountain vegetables and delicious ji sake. There is no dining room, so meals are served in your room.
If you want a touch of luxury try the more central Gero Spa Suimeikan Hotel (Tel: 0576 25 2800) right at the station.
Tel: 0576 25 2620
From Nagoya Station or Gifu take the JR Takayama Honsen Line Wide View Hida express (tokkyu; 3990 yen; 1 hour 28 minutes) north to Gero or travel south on the same line from Takayama and Toyama (2 hours 16 minutes). By road, drive via Nakatsugawa on the Chuo Expressway and then turn off the highway on route 257.
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Saturday, January 02, 2010