亀清旅館でジュディ・リンチ キルト展が2023年5月16日~6月12日開催 Kamesei Ryokan to hold a Judi Lynch Quilt Exhibit May 16 - June 12

2023.05.15: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan, 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi


Here at Kamesei Ryokan, we have proudly decorated our inn with patchwork and quilt wall hangings made by Judi Lynch, the mother of our proprietor Tyler Lynch.  For 4 weeks starting May 16th we will hold an exhibition of works by Judi Lynch in our large banquet room.  The 30 pieces range from small wall hangings to queen-size quilts, many featuring designs inspired by Japan an incorporating vintage kimono material.

期間 Dates:  5/16 ~ 6/12

時間 Time: AM 9:00-11:00  PM 15:00-17:30

場所 Place:  亀清旅館の2階の大広間 Kamesei Ryokan's 2nd Floor Banquet Hall

料金 Price:  無料 Free  *希望者にお茶とシアトルクッキーセット300円 Tea and Seattle Cookie Set available for 300 yen

お問い合わせ Contact Tel 026-275-1032 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan

記念日にプリザーブフラワーの体験を🌹 Making Anniversary Memories: Preserved Flowers Lesson

2023.03.21: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada, 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan, 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi, 活動 Activities



For Kamesei Ryokan’s Anniversary Plan guests can choose a preserved flower making lesson. A couple celebrating their 52nd wedding anniversary gathered in our lobby next to the wood stove and followed the kind instructions of Togura Kamiyamada Onsen’s flower artist Satoh-san from Atelier Bamboo to make a beautiful flower decoration.

さくらんぼ🍒おもてなし Hospitality with Cherries

2022.06.18: 季節 Seasons, 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi, グルメFoodie

先日は常連のお客様の送迎でさくらんぼの出荷場に寄ってお土産に買ってあげました。The other day I was driving some longtime guests home and stopped at a cherry stand and bought them some as a gift.

朝採りさくらんぼ: 90代のお二人にぴったりのお土産
Fresh-picked cherries — the perfect gift for a pair of 90ish ladies.

お客様は90代の女性お二人です。前回に送迎した時はハゼ掛けの時期でしたのでせっかくだから姨捨棚田をサービスで通りました。お二人に凄く印象的だったのようで、今回の滞在で「素敵な思い出だった」と何回か言ってくださりました。(90代の割には頭がしっかり…) The guests were a pair of ladies in their nineties. Last time they came it was rice harvest season so on the drive here I took them through the Obasute Rice Terraces. Apparently the scenery made a big impact on them because they couldn’t stop talking about it. (Both of their minds are quite sharp for being in their nineties.)

今回の送迎でより大きな印象を、と思い、しかし、何が良いかと悩みました。そして、途中にさくらんぼの出荷場があると思い出しました。シーズンが短いんですが運が良く販売してました。On the drive this time I was hoping to do something that would make an even bigger impact. Then I remembered there’s a cherry stand along the way. Cherry season is so short but fortunately they were open.

お二人は朝採りのさくらんぼが初めてだった様で、大喜び。90代の方を喜ばせるのはなかなか難しいですが、おかげ様で大成功しました!It was their first time to have fresh-picked cherries so they were very pleased. It’s not everyday that you can make a pair of ninety year olds happy but this was an outstanding success!

次回はさらに大きな印象が出来る様に、青い目のおもてなしにおまかせください♪ Next time I’ve got to think of something to make an even bigger impact, but that’s what hospitality is about.

セレンディピティなおもてなし Serendipitous Omotenashi

2022.04.16: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi
(English to follow.)
先日は、暖かいおもてなし ありがとうございました。温泉も とても温まり、お料理も美味しく頂きました。天候が悪い中 『戸隠』を薦めてもらい 思っていた以上に神秘的な風景に感動しました。名刺をもらった山口屋のお蕎麦も美味かったです。観光した、善光寺も黒部ダムもとても感動しましたが、一番の思い出は?と、問いかけると『戸隠』に、亀清さんに宿泊してなかったら、行かなかった場所でした。
亀清旅館に宿泊して 本当に良かったです。一期一会のご縁に感謝

Photo of the path to Togakushi Oku-sha Shrine by T-san from Kanagawa Pref.

In Japan there is a concept called "omotenashi".  Usually translated as "hospitality" or "service", it is integral to the overall concept of a ryokan.  The secret behind omotenashi is to simply provide a guest with what they want.  However, the problem is in 'reading' a guest to ascertain what it is they want.  And for some, the guests themselves don't realize what they truly want.  Sometimes, it requires a bit of serendipity, as with this recent example.
A husband and wife arrived by car and didn't seem to be in a good mood.  After checking them in and showing them their room, as I poured their tea they told me that all the places they had driven to and planned on seeing that day were still closed for the winter.  There has been an unusually large snowfall this year so many places are late in opening for spring.  As it had been a disappointing trip for them so far, accordingly the staff and I decided to do a more hands-off approach to serving them.
At check-out, the wife mentioned wanting to eat soba (buckwheat noodles -- Nagano's specialty).  Our favorite place for soba is Togakushi, the area above central Nagano City that is famous for growing some of the best buckwheat in the country.  There is something special about eating soba noodles at Togaushi made from the clear mountain water and in the fresh mountain air.  Our most beloved restaurant is Yamaguchi-ya.  The dining area features a picture window with a stunning view of Togakushi Mountain.  We had run out of brochures for Yamaguchi-ya so I had recently requested them to mail us some more.  Just then a package arrived and, low-and-behold, it was the brochures from Yamaguchi-ya.  Our proprietress handed one to the guests, and off they went.
Yesterday we received a thank you e-mail and pictures from the guests.  Apparently they had enjoyed a relaxing stay at our inn with the onsen baths and our chef's cuisine, but the highlight of their trip was Togakushi, especially the soba at Yamaguchi-ya and the spiritual nature.  The picture shared here is the one they took of the cedar trees lining the path to Togakushi Oku-sha, the Inner Shrine.
If we had asked the guests at the start what they wanted, they probably wouldn't have said "Togakushi".  But through a bit of serendipitous omotenashi, the guests were able to overcome the disappointing start and make a memorable trip.

日本の小宿に受賞♪ しかしながら、努力がまだ足りず Kamesei Ryokan Selected as one of Japan's Top Small Inns

2021.01.12: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan, 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi, メディア Media
An industry newspaper released their annual list of Top 100 Hotels and Inns in Japan as decided by professionals, and our inn Kamesei Ryokan was selected in the Small Inn category.
The same day we received the award, we got a 1-star customer review that called our inn "Low-level, the worst".
Apparently we still have lots of improvements to make.

新しい信楽焼浴槽が完成! New Shigaraki Ceramic Onsen Bath!

2020.12.29: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan, 温泉Onsens, 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano, 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi

亀清旅館の女湯に二つ目の露天風呂が出来ました: この狸色の信楽焼の浴槽。




Kamesei Ryokan's women's onsen now has a 2nd outdoor bath:  this tanuki-colored Shigaraki ceramic bath.

The proprietress and I drove the 260km to Shigaraki (Shiga Precture, Koka City) and picked out the size and color, and had the bath specially made.  Meanwhile, I made the fence surround, deck and pocket garden for the bath.

Our women's onsen has a fairly small indoor bath, but now guests can enjoy not one but two outdoor baths.  And the Shigaraki ceramic is the perfect complement for Kamiyamada Onsen's skin-softening hot spring mineral water.

We hope everyone can come and take a soak in our new bath!

読売新聞の次のコラムが11月2日版。「交流系の観光」テーマ。My Next Yomiuri Shimbun Column on New Tourism

2019.11.01: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada, 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano, 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi, サイクリング Cycling


My next column for the Nagano edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper will be out on 02-November.  The gist of the message is that tourism is evolving from just trying to increase the number of tourists and getting them to spend more money, to  a form that brings more overall benefit to the local community through meaningful interaction.  One example I give is timely with its rugby connection (the Japan Rugby World Cup final will take place on the 2nd).  I explain one of our recent Zukudashi Eco Tours cycling tours.  We had two participants from New Zealand and when we passed an apple orchard, the farmer called out, "Tyler-san!"  I often take guests INTO her fields and experience helping with her farm work.  One of the New Zealanders was Maori, and he did a haka dance for the farmer.  I bet that was the first time in history for a real-life Maori to do a real-life haka dance in a Nagano apple orchard.  The guest enjoyed sharing his culture, and the farmer appreciated it as well.








朝採りなおかつ初物のぶどうを! First grapes of the Season!

2019.09.07: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada, 季節 Seasons, 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano, 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi, グルメFoodie



Grape Season in here!
I took our exchange student from Hungary to Nakajima Orchard to buy the new-crop grapes so serve as dessert to our guests tonight here at Kamesei Ryokan. We got 3 colors of grapes: the purple 'Kyoho', red 'Shinano Smile' and green 'Ouka'.
I also got some bunches of the popular 'Nagano Purple' variety to sell at our front desk. They are seedless, and you can eat the skin (for 'Kyoho' and many other Japanese varieties, you usually have to pop the skin off before eating). Fresh picked this morning and first of the season, and priced very reasonably.
The orchardist said all the rain and the lack of sun this summer meant this year's grape crop is maturing about a week later than usual. Apple trees on the other hand loved the extra rain and it looks like this year will be a bumper crop.
The grape harvest should continue through early October.
Apple season will start in earnest with the early autumn varieties in October, including the 3 Nagano Apple Siblings: the red and aptly-named 'Shinano Sweet', the crisp and green 'Shinano Gold', and deep-red colored 'Akibae'. Then the mainstay 'Fuji' apples are usually harvested in November.
We hope you come and enjoy Nagano's delicious autumn fruits!
中島農園 Nakajima Orchard http://www.nakajima-nouen.com/

旅館の色んな目線 Points of View for Ryokans

2019.08.01: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi, 日米関係Culture Shock



For my regular column in the Yomiuri Shimbun's Nagano edition, I wrote a piece on various points of view concerning Japanese inns.  Much of what I wrote got edited away, but below is the non-edited version.

Basically, I wrote about how the sitting area of many ryokan guest rooms is dropped down 1 step so the eye levels of the people sitting on the chairs there, and that of the people sitting on the tatami mat floor are the same height.  A student of Frank Lloyd Wright named Arata Endo first set that trend in the process of making the Honenmushi wing of the venerable Sasaya Hotel here in our onsen town, Togura Kamiyamada.

Other examples of points of view I used were how low the entrances are to rooms, with the reason being that makes is more difficult for enemies to wield their katana swords (something I get to think about every time I bump my head) and how the handles for the sliding 'fusuma' doors are so low, since the proper way to open them is from the kneeling 'seiza' position rather than standing up.  Unfortunately, my samurai-related comments got edited out as being unsubstantiated, which feels like a smack to the forehead...








行政に鬼?長野地方事務所への提案 Provoking the Government

2019.01.10: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi, その他 Miscellaneous

Once again provoking the local government.  Ideas for concrete steps the regional government could take to promote / improve the area's inbound tourism.




フルーツ狩りができる施設を整理する。2年前から長野地方事務所が「フルーツ狩りをインバウンドに」と言っていた。確かに、ニーズがあります。しかし、ロゴが変わった以外何かアクシオンがあったか?(上記写真参照) アクセス、予約・飛込対応、表記、多言語対応、景色、無農薬などを調査し、出来たら農家さんたちも慣れるためにモニターツアーの実施など。








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