Today, we went into the Norikura Highlands just to the southwest of Matsumoto in the Japan Alps of the Nagano Prefecture.
The intent was to see three waterfalls (Bandokoro-no-taki, Zengorou daki, and Sanbon daki). But we only ended up seeing one along with a bunch of headaches concerning whether we were getting ripped off and whether we'd even make it back to Matsumoto with all the confusion around bus schedules (service here is very infrequent).
It turned out that we ended up paying about 8000 yen (around $88USD with our crummy exchange rates) for the both of us on this out-and-back trip. And I'm not sure a waterfall trip should really cost that much money unless it was a big ticket waterfall, which this one is not (though it is pretty nice in its own right). Perhaps hiring a car for a day from Matsumoto would've made more sense (though I didn't recall seeing a rent-a-car place in town).
Even though we've had some difficulty with logistics and communication in the past week in Japan, I think today was the first time that our lack of knowledge of the Japanese language really hurt us. Julie wonders why they don't have a tourist info center at the Shin-shimashima Station instead of the Kanko Info Center way up in the Norikura Highlands after some steep bus fares to even get there.
In any case, I didn't have time to try to pick up some basics of the Japanese language prior to this trip (something I try to do for just about every place we visit), and it was fitting that we got burned the one time I couldn't get around to taking the time to learn in the one country where we needed it most.
Oh well, you live and learn...