土壁改造:年数もかかるFixing earthen walls takes years

2008.06.30: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan


Kamesei's building with the banquet hall is getting it's earthen wall fixed. The wall was damaged in the snow storm 2 years ago. Last summer, we had the base patches done, and now we are having the surfaced finished. It would be a lot easier just to slap some aluminum siding on it, but we want to preserve the earthen walls of our building as it dates to the Taisho Era.

長野インバウンドサミット:新毎の取材 Nagano Inbound Summit article in Nagano's daily newspaper

2008.06.29: 活動 Activities


The editors of NagaKnow magazine and I are organizing an event in late September we are calling the 'Nagano Inbound Summit'. It's a gathering of people dealing with travellers from overseas coming to Nagano. Today's 'Shinano Mainichi' newspaper had a feature article on 'Inbound' trends and the Summit. It's encouraging to see our work getting this publicity.

長野インバウンドサミットはこちらClick here for info on Nagano Inbound Summit

新毎はこちらClick here for Shinano Mainichi


2008.06.29: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada


"to-FU" goes the sound. Ah, Aoki-san must be coming. In days past, the tofu guy rode his bike and blew a trumpet and sold tofu around the neighborhood. Now, here in Togura Kamiyamada onsen we have Aoki-san going around in his van with a recorded sound track announcing his arrival. At least the taste of the tofu is as good as it was in the old days.

ただ野球だけじゃない It's not just baseball

2008.06.28: 日米関係Culture Shock


Ricoh's company baseball team spent the night with us. One of their managers shared some insight: The company doesn't just sponsor the team to play baseball -- through the game the players learn to cooperate as a team and build strong interpersonal relationships. These are things that come in handy in the workplace.
One more thing he mentioned was baseball helps reinforce the senpai-kouhai (elder-younger) relationships that are so important in Japan. They purposely mixed senpai's with kouhai's in the guestrooms. As ryokans are places to relax, the senpai-kouhai deal also gets relaxed a bit. Even so, the kouhai had to carry the bags of their senpai.
Back in the States, veteran baseball players would teach the rookies all kinds of tips, but I doubt you see the rookies carrying the veterans' bags. Japan's senpai-kouhai relationships are truly unique.

千曲川鮎つり大会 Ayu Fishing Tourney on the Chikuma River

2008.06.28: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada


Today there was an Ayu Fishing Tournament on the Chikuma river. The sponsor was Sports Nihon newspaper, and their organizers spent the night here at Kamesei. It didn't look like many fish were being caught, but the river felt nice and cool in the warm sun.

亀清旅館のHPはこちらClick here for Kamesei Ryokan website

日本政府のアンチーおもてなし Japan Government's anti-omotenashi

2008.06.27: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi

Love Letter from MHLW

Nagano is a long way away from Hokkaido, but our Ryokan Assoc. faxed us this request to be more strict towards our guests from overseas in consideration of the up-coming Hokkaido G8 Summit. On one hand, we say 'Yokoso Japan'; on the other other we suspect guests are terrorists. Isn't that being a bit two-faced? For further info, including add'l comments by yours truly, see my senpai Debito-san's blog on the matter: http://www.debito.org/?p=1764

初めての「とっかん」 My first Tokan

2008.06.26: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

とっかん! Tokan!

Just when you think you're starting to get a handle of things here in Japan, along comes a 'Tokan'. This evening, I was out behind our inn and heard a large explosion ("To-Kan"). At the park behind Kamesei, there was a funky truck with a bunch of people gathered around. It turned out to be an old guy, Arai-san, popping rice. I ran and got our kids, and a bunch of rice, and went back to experience the 'Tokan' in person. He looked at me and said, "I saw you on TV. I've been on TV 90 times, and will be on again next month." I didn't have the heart to tell him that I don't watch the boob tube. Anyways, he went on to explain that he has been doing 'Tokan' for 30+ years, longer than anyone else (presumably in the world). After tasting it, I could understand his popularity!
日本の生活に慣れてきたなと思ったら、「とっかん!」 亀清の裏の方に行ったら、近所の公園からでかい爆発の音が聞こえた。行ってみたら、ある面白い軽トラの周りに沢山の人が集まっていた。荒井おじさんがお米をポップしていた。亀清に戻って、息子達とお米をゲットして、とっかんを直接体験する為に新井さんのところに戻った。「テレビに出たよね」と言われちゃった。「わしも90回テレビに出た。来月にまた出る!」と。(「私はテレビを見ないと言えなかった。。。)話によると、新井さんが30年間以上とかんをやってきました。日本(世界?)一長くだそうです。味は美味しい訳だ!

次の庭も完成!Next Garden Finished!

2008.06.26: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan

Andy and Kenny enjoying Suehiro's ante-garden

Last month, the garden in front of 'Chitose' was completed, and yesterday, Suehiro's got finished. Our gardener, Okada-san, cleverly designed the new garden to be an extension of the first one. Chitose's is fairly shady, and as you move down the corridor, Suehiro's is more open and the choice of plants and the design reflects the sunnier environment. It's something best experienced in person, so please come and have a look!

亀清旅館のHPはこちらClick here for Kamesei Ryokan's website

「仕事に熱心!」と言う公演@坂城中 A Speech on Careers for Sakaki M.S.

2008.06.25: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi

Sakaki M.S.

Our neighboring town's Middle School has beautiful woodwork throughout, and Sakaki is duly proud of it. I went there for the first time last year, and then again yesterday. It was to give a speech for their career class as someone who is intense about their job. One of the main points I wanted to get across was the importance of doing something extra in whatever you do. If your teacher tells you to write a minimum 5 page report, write 6. If you pick up guests at the station, don't just take them directly back to the inn, but show them the view from the temple above the town on the way. In otherwords, +α.
The question asked of me at the end was interesting: How many hours do I work a day. Well, it depends on how you look at it. For example, even going for a bike ride with my son is a chance to look at new things to suggest to our guests. This speech to the M.S. students could be considered separate from work. However, to the extent that our inn exists in this area, we have a responsibility to interact and contribute to the society, so even this speech is 'work'.
That's me, enjoying working as the blue-eyed ryokan proprietor.


2008.06.24: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan

Can you see the baby birds?

It's probably hard to tell by this picture, but the swallows that built their nest above our entrance door are back this year, and their babies are peaking their little heads out of the nest. I guess Kamesei's hospitality extends to birds, too. 🙂