夏休み2021年 姨捨正宗と亀清旅館のコラボ Summer '21: Obasute Sake + Kamesei Ryokan

July 24, 2021: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada, 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan, グルメFoodie

この夏は姨捨正宗と亀清旅館は新しい取り組みを提供いたします。

我が温泉宿に泊まって、酒蔵を訪問刷ればプレゼントをもらえます! 亀清旅館は100年以上の歴史の木造館実乃が中心となっていますが、造り酒屋の姨捨正宗のさらに歴があって、本館が重要文化財になっています。是非に行ってみて頂きたいと思っております。行かれたら姨捨正宗さんから素敵なプレゼントをもらえます。

姨捨正宗は亀清旅館から約9㎞、車で15分です。千曲市の唯一の造り酒屋。もちろん、亀清旅館で提供しております。

This summer, the Obasute sake brewery and our inn, Kamesei Ryokan, are teaming up for a special promotion.  After staying at our inn, visit the brewery and receive a free gift.

Kamesei Ryokan boasts a main building with a history of over 100 years, but Obasute's brewery is even older -- the main building is on the national historical registry.  We encourage everyone to go see it.

The Obasute brewery is 9km from Kamesei Ryokan, approx. 15 minutes by car.  It is the only sake brewery in operation here in Chikuma city.

Long-Stay Vacation in Nagano: 10 Tips with Kamesei Ryokan as Your Base

July 13, 2020: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada, 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan, 季節 Seasons, 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano

How about spending an extended vacation in Nagano?  Make Kamesei Ryokan your base for exploring Nagano Prefecture.  Here are the 10 most popular day-trips.

1.Zenkoji Temple, Nagano City

Our onsen town, Togura-Kamiyamada, has traditionally been considered the resort of choice after visitors make their pilgrimage to Zenkoji.  The venerable temple houses the "Amida Triad Sharing One Halo" image which is the oldest Buddhist image in Japan, having crossed over from the Korean Peninsula in 552.  Once every 7 years it is put on display during the renowned Gokaicho ceremony.  Visitors to the temple usually enter the Main Hall, and take the stairs down into a pitch-black corridor, feeling along the wall in the hopes of finding the 'key' that is located directly under said image.  After transmitting prayers through the image, visitors ascend the stairs to once again be in the light, a sensation similar to being born again.  More info here.

Venerable Zenkoji Temple

The main road leading to Zenkoji, "Naka-mise", is lined by souvenir shops and soba noodle restaurants.  Here you are sure to find the perfect memorabilia to take home, as well as satisfy your tummy.

Access from Kamesei Ryokan:  By car it is 27km (approx. 50 min.) to Zenkoji.  It's best to take Route 18 and surface streets as the Expressway runs in an inconvenient direction.  By train, it is 25 minutes from Togura Station to Nagano Station, and then a 5 minute bus to the temple.

Kamesei Tips:  Leave your car at our inn, take the train from Togura Station, and walk from Nagano Station to Zenkoji.  This allows you to enjoy walking up the Naka-mise street, as most parking lots are located behind the temple.  Also, one block off Naka-mise to both the left and right are narrow lanes lined with Shukubo (temple lodging), a serene contrast to the chaotic scene of the shops and restaurants along the main street.

2.Karuizawa

Nagano Prefecture's premier resort town, Karuizawa boasts a large number of high caliber art museums and galleries, fantastic boutique shops, quaint chapels, and a smorgasbord of gourmet restaurants, all in a lush, natural setting.  And that's not to mention the outlet shopping center.  Plus there are the elegant Mikasa and Manpei Hotels and the fancy summer homes, giving the town an opulent atmosphere.  Official info.

Classic Karuizawa; Mampei Hotel

Access from Kamesei Ryokan:  For by both car and by train, there is a slow and fast option.  By car, taking the Joshin'etsu Expressway and exiting at the Komoro IC, it is 50km, approx. 55 minutes.  If you avoid the expressway and take the Asama Sun Line highway, it will take 10 minutes longer but the rural scenery is worth it.  By train, you can transfer at Ueda to the Hokuriku Shinkansen and reach Karuizawa in 45 minutes.  Or you can take the local train all the way from Togura for a leisurely 1 hour and 15 minutes (and 1/3 the price).

Kamesei Tips:  Karuizawa's roads tend to get congested on weekends and holidays, especially in the summer, so take the train instead.  Many head to Karuizawa to shop at the outlet stores, but the old-fashioned Kyu-Karu "Ginza" and the classy Harunire Terrace offer enticing alternatives.

3.Togakushi

The name "Togakushi" refers to a tale related to Japan's creation myth, appropriate for the area's mystical atmosphere.  Perhaps the place best suited for feeling the spiritual power is the trail to Okusha, the Inner Shrine.  It is lined by ancient cedar trees that give a distinct vibe of the power of nature.  Togakushi is also famous for soba noodles, and there is something extra-special about the noodles prepared with the highland's clear water and clean mountain air.  Togakushi hides one other secret:  the eponymous Togakure-ryu ninjas.  Many of our guests have come back from the Togakushi Ninja Village gushing that it was more fun than USJ!  Official Info.

Zuijinmon Gate with the ancient cedar trees beyond

 

 

Access from Kamesei Ryokan:  By car, there are 2 main routes.  The typical way is to drive to Zenkoji and then up to Togakushi from there.  45 minutes + 45 minutes, for a total of 90 minutes.  Alternatively, you can take the Joshin'etsu Expressway from the Koshoku IC to the Shinano Machi IC, and then the back roads up to Togakushi.  With that route, from our door to the Okusha parking lot, it is 60 minutes.  You have to pay the toll and it's the long way around, but it is considerably faster and less crowded.  By train is is 25 minutes from Togura to Nagano Station, then an hour-long Alpico Bus up to Togakushi.

Kamesei Tips:  Togakushi features 4 very distinct faces, depending on the season.  Autumn is the most popular, with the fall leaves colors peaking in October and the new crop soba coming in November.  However, spring is spectacular for bird watching and for the creamy white marsh lilies (aka skunk cabbage), summer means cool highland temperatures and playing in the streams, and in winter Togakushi is a snow shoeing paradise (ask us for great course recommendations).  For ninja fans, the Ninja Village has an extensive variety of activities, but the Ninpo Center near the entrance to Okusha is much less crowded.

4.Matsumoto

Known as the Crow Castle, the formidable Matsumoto-jo is a designated National Treasure.  It has been recently joined as such by Matsumoto's old Kaichi School building.  Another popular destination is the Municipal Art Museum, with a selection of works by the world-renowned 'polka-dot lady', Yayoi Kusama.  The Nawate-dori and Nakamachi shopping streets round out the must-see spots in central Matsumoto City.  Official Info.

The stately black facade of Matsumoto Castle, aka The Crow Castle

Access from Kamesei Ryokan:  By car, if using the Obasute SA Smart IC, it Matsumoto is a convenient 45 minutes from Kamesei.  By train, we can provide shuttle service to Obasute Station to catch the local JR train Matsumoto Station, also 45 minutes.

Kamesei Tips:  We personally are big fans of Matsumoto's craft scene.  There are several unique shops along Nakamachi, including our favorite, Chikiriya.  The Craft Fair held the end of May is one of the best in the country, and year-round you can go to the Matsumoto Folkcraft Museum and see some outstanding examples of Matsumoto's hand-built furniture.

5. Obuse

Famous for chestnut sweets and the ukiyo-e artist Hokusai, Obuse is particularly popular with two types of visitors:  Japanese and other Asians for the chestnut mont blanc, and Westerners for the Hokusai Museum and ceiling painting of a phoenix at Gansho-in Temple.  Personally, our favorite aspect is the quaint townscape, especially Chestnut Lane and all the Open Gardens.

Obuse's quaint Chestnut Lane

Access from Kamesei:  By car Obuse is 45 minutes using the Joshin’etsu Expressway and the Obuse SA Smart IC (ETC card required).  By train, from Togura Station to Obuse Station transferring at Nagano Station, it takes approximately 80 minutes.

Kamesei Tips:  In the center of town is the Takai Kozan Musem.  Here you can learn about Hokusai’s patron and see what the town was like when the famous artist resided here.  Outside of the center beyond Gansho-in is another temple called Joko-ji.  The enterprising head priest has undertaken many initiatives to make the temple relevant to today’s Japan.  Just one project is indicated by Joko-ji’s nickname:  The Slackline Temple.  By the way, next door is a restaurant specializing in tofu dishes – Yummy!

6. The Roof of Japan – Kamikochi, Utsukushigahara and a variety of Ropeways and Gondolas

One of Nagano’s biggest draws are its many mountains.  The Prefecture is not only home to all three of the Japanese Alps ranges (Northern, Central and Southern), but has Shiga Kogen and the “5 Northern Nagano Peaks”.  Everywhere you go in Nagano you will see mountains!

Convenient Access to the Roof of Japan (Pictured: Ryuoo Ropeway

Many of our guests visit Nagano to go to the mountains, then come down to relax at our inn.  Some of the easiest to access are Norikura (via the Echo Line bus), Komagatake and the Senjojiki Cirque via ropeway, Utsukushigahara Highlands and Mt. Kurumayama by driving the Venus Line and taking the Kurumayama Skylift, SORA Terrace via the Ryuoo Ropeway, Nojiri Lake Terrace on Mt. Madarao using the Tangram gondola, and Mountain Harbor high up in the Hakuba Range using the Iwatake gondola.

Access from Kamesei varies by destination.  We suggest you confer with us and use our collection of brochures (and discount coupons!).

7. Mountain Climbing and Trekking

Lots of guests show up wearing hiking boots after traipsing around Nagano’s mountains and forests.  We are actually fans of mountain climbing, too, and have explored most of the trails around our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada and several throughout the Prefecture.

Explore Nagano's Wilderness

We would be happy to give advice for Nagano's popular trails, such as Mt. Asama and Shiga Kogen, as well as lesser known treks such as abandoned rail tunnels or the Birth-mountain of Kintaro, the Golden Boy -- we've explored them all.  After factoring in the weather and your desired activity level, we are sure to come up with the perfect suggestion.  And don't worry if the day of your expedition turns out to be rainy -- there are indoor options, too, such as rock climbing gyms.

Access as well as our Kamesei Hints depend on the actual trail so feel free to inquire.

8.Winery Tour

Nagano's wineries have been gaining attention on the global stage lately, and we are fortunate to have several "Wine Valleys" in our vicinity.

The eastern section of the Chikuma River Wine Valley is perhaps most famous for Villa d'Est Garden Farm and Winery, but don't overlook its Tomi City neighbor Rue de VinMann's Winery in Komoro has a long-established history, while Chateau Mercian's new Mariko Winery in the hills above Ueda City has already made the global Top 50 list.

The northern reaches of the Chikuma River Wine Valley includes the highly-acclaimed Kusunoki Winery in Suzaka (the chardonnay is a life-changer!) and St. Cousair and its restaurant with panoramic view in Iizuna town.

Access and our Kamesei Tips will depend on your itinerary.  We would be happy to provide suggestions.  And with our Nagano Wine Stay Plan, you are welcome to bring your own bottle of Nagano Wine to have with your dinner.  We also have an eclectic selection of local wines to enjoy with your meal.

9.Apricot Village, Fruit Paradise

The nearby Mori district is nicknamed "Anzu no Sato" (Apricot Village), as our city is Japan's #1 producer of apricots.  In early April the entire valley is covered in the delicate pink blossoms.  It is said you can see 100,000 apricot trees at one time from the viewpoint at the top of the valley.  On a clear day, the snow-capped peaks of the Northern Japanese Alps provide a stunning backdrop.

Pastoral "Apricot Village" Mori with blossoms in the foreground and the snow-capped Alps in the distance

Apricot fruit is available for picking in late June / early July.  The heritage varieties tend to be tart and are ideal for making into jam or dried fruit, but newer varieties such as Harcot are sweet enough to eat fresh off the tree.  And don't forget apricot soft-serve ice cream!

Besides apricots, our area features a parade of fresh fruit year-round.  Later in July following apricots are cherries and then plums and nectarines.  With August comes the famous Kawanakajima peaches.  September means table (eating) grapes while apple season is primarily October (Nagano's "Three Apple Siblings": Shinano Sweet, Shinano Gold and the deep-red colored Akibae, as well as the tart heritage Kogyoku) and November (the mainstay Fuji apples).  Strawberries are available for picking in green houses in the winter through late spring.

Our Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada has several fruit orchards nearby

We are fortunate to have several grape and apple orchards within a 5 minute drive from our inn.

10. Fabled Moon-Reflecting Obasute Rice Terraces  *Japan Heritage Site*

The Obasute Rice Terraces are a quick 10 minutes by car from Kamesei Ryokan.  They are located on a slope at the base of the 1252-meter tall Mt. Kamuriki which towers over our city.  The mountain is nicknamed “Obasute Mountain”, refering to the ancient legend about abandoning elderly people on the mountaintop. From ancient times, the area at the foot of the mountain has been renowned for its stunning views of the moon, especially a phenomenon known as “Tagoto no Tsuki” where the moon reflects in the individual rice paddies.  In October 2020, Obasute was designated a Japan Heritage site for the moon-viewing story. 

Obasute's moon-reflecting rice terraces

Obasute overlooks the Zenkoji Plain.  One of the best places for the view is the platform of Obasute Station.  The lights down in the valley at night are a popular site.

Don't miss the Obasute Night View

Access and Advice:  The Obasute Rice Terraces are just 10 minutes by car from Kamesei Ryokan.  You can park at the Obasute Tourism Hall on the north side and stroll the paddies from Choraku-ji Temple.  We at Kamesei Ryokan through our Zukudashi Eco Tours offer guided cycling tours of the Japan Heritage site.  For the night view, the local tourism association runs a special sightseeing bus.  Kamesei's owner is one of the regularly scheduled guides and would love to accompany you to see the lights of the Chikuma River Valley from Obasute.

Bonus:  The Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park

No visit to Nagano would be complete without seeing the world-famous Snow Monkeys at the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park.  These are the only wild monkeys in the world that soak in an onsen bath.  They draw photographers from across the globe to capture their blissful expression as they luxuriate in the hot spring water.

 

Blissful snow monkeys

While many people go see the monkeys during winter to see them in their snowy habitat, the babies born in the springtime are little fur-balls running all over the place making the Monkey Park a treat to visit year-round.

Playful Baby Snow Monkey

Access and Advice:  By car the parking lot is 60 minutes from Kamesei Ryokan using the expressway.  By public transportation, it is 25 minutes by train from Togura to Nagano, then a 45 minute express bus to the trailhead.  (See the Kamesei blog for updated train / bus schedules.)  Either way, there is a 30 minute walk through a beautiful evergreen forest to the actual park.  If you go in the fall, during the macaques' mating season they may be, err, preoccupied and won't come down to the park.  You can check the live camera feed on the park's website for the latest status.

【ACCESS】The Way to Kamesei, in Photos

July 10, 2020: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

Kamesei Ryokan and our onsen town, Togura-Kamiyamada, are conveniently located near both the Shinkansen (bullet train) and major Expressways.  Access explained below, with pictures; access by car first, then by train below.

By Car

※From Tokyo (Nerima JCT)
190km (2 hr 30 min)
Nerima JCT
Kanetsu Expwy E17 78km
Fujioka JCT
Joshin’etsu Expwy E18 104km
Sakaki IC #11
Route 91 1.5km
"Sakaki IC" Signal (Turn Right)
Route 18 5.5km
"Togurakamiyamadaonsen" Signal (Turn Left)
Route 498 1km
"Kamiyamada Culture Hall" Signal (Turn Right)
Chuo Dori 180m
Second Left (Turn Left)
Koen Dori 30m
Kamesei Ryokan

藤岡JCT Fujioka JCT Bear Left.

坂城IC Sakaki IC

坂城IC入口信号 18号に右折
Sakaki IC Signal; Right turn on to Rt. 18.

「戸倉上山田温泉」信号 498号に左折
Togurakamiyamadaonsen Signal. Left turn on to Rt. 498.

「上山田文化会館」信号 中央通りに右折
上山田文化会館信号で右折。Kamiyamada Culture Hall Signal. Right turn on to Chuo Dori.

2つ目の左 公園通りに左折したら、亀清旅館は真正面になります。
2nd Left. Turn on to Koen Dori and Kamesei Ryokan will be straight ahead.

※From Matsumoto Direction
From Matsumoto IC 45km (45 min.) NOTE: Below instructions are for using the Obasute Smart IC. If no ETC card, use the Omi IC and take the mountain road through the Sakagami Tunnel.
(From Tokyo's Takaido IC or from Osaka / Nagoya direction, take Chuo Expwy E20 to Okaya JCT,  then the Nagano Expwy E18 via Matsumoto.)
Matsumoto IC
Nagano Expwy E18 38km
Obasute Smart IC #6-1
↓ After exiting, turn right and follow the narrow roads down 1.1km
Intersection near Obasute Station (Turn Right)
Route 338 3.2km
"Sarashina Elementary School" Signal (Turn Right)
Route 77 3km
Proceed onto the Onsen Town's main street, past the Kara-Koro Foot Bath to the 1st Right (Turn Right)
Koen Dori 30m
Kamesei Ryokan

姨捨スマートIC (ETC専用) Obasute Smart IC (ETC req'd)

出口を出て右折 Turn right after exiting

下りて、突き当たって右(姨捨駅近辺) Proceed down to the "T" and turn right (Near Obasute Station)

「更級小学校入口」信号 県道77号に右折
Sarashina Elementary School Signal. Turn Right on to Rt. 77.

上山田温泉の本通りに進む Proceed on to Kamiyamada Onsen's Main Street

公園通りに右折したら、亀清旅館は真正面になります。
Turn right on to Koen Dori, and Kamesei Ryokan will be directly ahead.

※From Niigata / Kanazawa Direction
From Joetsu JCT 97km (1 hr 15 min.)
Joetsu JCT
Joshin'etsu Expwy E18 86km
Koshoku JCT
Nagano Expwy E19 (Towards Matsumoto) 500m
Koshoku IC #7 (Route 18 towards Chikuma)
Route 18 8.5km
"Togurakamiyamadaonsen" Signal (Turn Right)
Route 498 1km
"Kamiyamada Culture Hall" Signal (Turn Right)
↓  Chuo Dori 180m
Second Left (Turn Left)
Koen Dori 30m
Kamesei Ryokan

更埴JCT 右から2本目の車線 青い矢印
Koshoku JCT Stay in the 2nd lane from the right and follow the Blue Arrow

更埴IC 青い矢印に従って料金所を通って、右方面(R18・千曲)
Koshoku IC Follow the Blue Arrow. After exiting the toll gate, bear right for R18 towards Chikuma.

「戸倉上山田温泉入口」信号で右折 Turn Right at "Togurakamiyamadaonsen" signal.

「上山田文化会館」信号 中央通りに右折
上山田文化会館信号で右折。Kamiyamada Culture Hall Signal. Right turn on to Chuo Dori.

2つ目の左 公園通りに左折したら、亀清旅館は真正面になります。
2nd Left. Turn on to Koen Dori and Kamesei Ryokan will be straight ahead.

By Train

Closest train station is Togura Station on the Shinano Railway line.  From Togura, nearest Shinkansen (bullet train) stop is Ueda on the Hokuriku Shinkansen.  Detailed explanation as follows.

※From Tokyo
Tokyo Station via Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Nagano / Kanazawa to Ueda (90 min, 1 train per hour). Change to Shinano Railway bound for Nagano to Togura (15 min, usually 2 trains per hour). Alternatively, Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano, then back-track to Togura. This might be faster as there is more frequent Shinkansen service to Nagano, but ticket price is higher.

※From Osaka / Kyoto via Nagoya
Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya. Change to JR Ltd. Exp. "Shinano" bound for Nagano to Shinonoi (2 hr 45 min, 1 train per hour). Change to Shinano Railway bound for Ueda / Komoro / Karuizawa to Togura (12 min, usually 2 trains per hour). NOTE: You may want to stop in Matsumoto to see the castle, then follow instructions from Matsumoto below.

※From Osaka / Kyoto via Kanazawa
JR Ltd. Exp. "Thunderbird" to Kanazawa. Change to Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano (fastest 1 hr 5 min, 2 per hour). Change to Shinano Railway bound for Ueda / Komoro / Karuizawa to Togura (25 min, usually 2 per hour).

※From Matsumoto
JR Shinonoi Line bound for Nagano to Obasute (45 min, usually 1 train per hour).

※From Hakuba
Alpico express bus to Nagano (1 hr, 1 per hour during winter season). Change to Shinano Railway bound for Ueda / Komoro / Karuizawa to Togura (25 min, usually 2 per hour).

※From Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park
Nagaden express bus from Snow Monkey Park bus stop to Nagano Station (45 min, limited frequency). Change to Shinano Railway bound for Ueda / Komoro / Karuizawa to Togura (25 min, usually 2 per hour).

戸倉駅からの送迎 Shuttle Service from Togura Station

※Shuttle Bus

We offer free pick-up from Togura Station 3-5:30pm. Upon arrival, please call us at 026-275-1032. There is a pay phone out front -- you can simply put in 10 yen and dial.
Alternatively from Togura Station you can come by bus (#9, infrequent service), walking (2.2km, approx. 30 min.) or taxi (approx. 1100 yen - recommended).
For guests coming from Matsumoto, we can pick-up at Obasute Station. Please call ahead with your train time so we can meet you at Obasute. Tel# 026-275-1032.
If using a JR Rail Pass, please note Shinano Railway is not covered. Extra charge from Ueda is 340 yen, from Nagano / Shinonoi is 260 yen.

北陸新幹線 Hokuriku Shinkansen (Runs between Tokyo and Kanazawa with stops at our nearest stations of Ueda and Nagano.)

しなの鉄道の車両(例)
Shinano Railway cars (example)

姨捨「田毎の月」棚田は日本遺産認定♪ The Moon-Reflecting Obasute Rice Terraces Designated "Japan Heritage"

June 19, 2020: 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

姨捨の「田毎の月」で有名な棚田は日本遺産に認定されました。

俳句名人の芭蕉や一茶がわざわざ来た姨捨の棚田は広重の浮世絵にもなりました。

姨捨「田毎の月」棚田

この日本原風景が文化庁に認めれらて、 月の都 千曲 -姨捨の棚田が作る摩訶不思議な月景色「田毎の月」ー として伝統的な月見スポットと言う事で、日本遺産に選ばれました。

戸倉上山田温泉・亀清旅館から車で10分。週末は姨捨夜景ツアーもあり。我が亀清旅館の主人も当番でガイドしてます。喜んでご案内いたしますので、是非にお越しください!

(長野県でもう1か所も日本遺産に認定された: 上田市の塩田平。国分寺と生島足島神社が夏と冬に1回ずつ太陽の光で結ばれていて、 レイラインがづなく「太陽と太一の聖地」 ~龍と生きるまち 信州上田・塩田平~ で認められました。 姨捨と塩田平の日本遺産の詳しくは ここ と ここ

The legendary moon-reflecting Obasute Rice Terraces have been designated as a Japan Heritage site.  Haiku masters such as Matsuo Basho and Kobayashi Issa traveled to Obasute just to see moon over the rice fields.  Famed Ukiyoe artist Hiroshige made one of his wood block prints depicting the moon rising over the terraces.  Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs recognized the important moon-viewing heritage of Obasute, and added it to it's highly selective list of Japan Heritage sites.

The  Obasute Rice Terraces are 10 minutes by car from Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada and our inn, Kamesei Ryokan.  Our owner is one of the guides for the Obasute Night View Tour, so please come and see one of Japan's newest Heritage Sites yourself!

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

November 1, 2019: 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

読売新聞(長野県版)の次のコラムが11月2日です。編集される前の文章は下記です。プロに磨かれた文章は2日の新聞に是非にどうぞ。

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.

観光業界はとにかくお客さんを一人でも増やし、一円でも多く落としてもらう事が基本です。しかし、最近はその常識が変わってきました。訪ねる人数だけではなく、地元の皆さんにメリットがあるかどうかが重要です。例えば、外から来る方との交流で自分達に新しい発見やモノの見方が得られるとか。

一つな温かい事例があります。なおかつ今、開催されているラグビーワールドカップの関連もあります。

私はこの戸倉上山田温泉で「ずくだしエコツアー」と言う事業を起こしました。レンタサイクルそしてガイド付きサイクリングと街歩きツアーを提供してます。サイクリングツアーで一番大事なのは自転車から降りる事です。田んぼやリンゴ畑などの周りを走って、農家さんが作業をしていたら自転車を止めて、降りて、「手伝わせてください」と実際に畑に入いります。はぜ掛けなどのコツを教えて頂きながら、皆で体験します。お客さんはお米の育ち方を習って、永遠に忘れられない思い出になります。なおかつ、農家さんは作業が少しでも軽くなるうえ、彼らの努力が分かち合ってもらえるので嬉しいです。

先日はこういうエピソードがありました。ニュージーランドからのお二人をサイクリングツアーでガイドした時に自転車でりんご畑を通ったら「タイラーさん!」と畑の中から声をかけられました。良く田んぼの仕事などでお客さんと交流するおばさんとおじさんでした。私たちは自転車を置いて、どういう仕事なされているか見せて頂きました。そして、私が一人のお客さんの顔と体系を良く見て、気付きました。「もしかしたら、マオリ族ですか?」と聞いてみました。「そうです」と。「ハカは踊れますか?」「踊れるさ!」「じゃ、この農家さんに見せてくれますか?」

恐らく歴史上初めて、本物のマオリ族が本物のハカを長野のりんご畑で踊りました。

りんご農家のお二人が大喜びでした。

これからはもっとこういう交流のある観光を目指したいと思っています。

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

September 7, 2019: 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

海外からの留学生ととぶどう園行きました。今晩の我が亀清旅館のお客さんは初物の朝採りぶどうを食べられます。巨峰とシナノスマイルと黄華の三色。


そして、売店用に話題の皮ごと食べられる種無しナガノパープルも。特別な価格で提供してます。
今年の夏は雨や曇りの日が多かったせいか、ぶどうの出来上がりは去年より1週間ぐらい遅れました。この頃は天気になって、良い色と味になってきました。りんごの方は雨のおかげで大き目になり、豊作の予感です。
ぶどうは恐らく10月上旬まで、
りんごはシナノスィート、シナノゴルド、秋映(長野りんご三兄弟)が10月、ふじりんごが11月の予定です。
信州の果実の秋を満喫しましょう!採りたてが一番美味しいですよ!

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/

信州の山々が読んでます。 Nagano's Mountains Are Calling

August 20, 2019: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada, 日米関係Culture Shock, 信州の山 Nagano’s Mountains, その他 Miscellaneous

お盆が終わって、少し落ち着いたから、

山登りへ!

若女将と戸倉上山田温泉の近くの八頭山を上りました。亀清旅館から見える山ので、その記念で一つの客室は「八頭」と言う名前です。

亀清旅館・戸倉上山田温泉から車で7.6km、約15分で坂上トンネルの入り口近辺が登山口です。割りと短いハイク(2.8㎞)ですが、標高790mの登山口から1204mの頂上までは標高差が約415mなので、良い運動になります。休憩しながら50分で登りました。途中のぽんぽぽ平から大林山へのトレールもあるので、次回は1333mの大林山をチャレンジしたいと思ってます。ルートの詳しくはここ

After the O-Bon holiday, the inn has quieted down a bit so the proprietress and I got to go for a hike.  We climbed the nearby 1204m tall Mt. Hattoh, which is visible from our inn and hence the namesake for one of our guest rooms.  The trailhead is 7.6km (15 minutes by car) from our onsen town.  The hike itself is relatively short (only 2.8km) aggressively climbs up 415 meters to the summit.  With water breaks, it took us about 50 minutes.

近くで沢山のハイキングコースがあるからこそ、キャスケード山脈ハイキングで育った私には嬉しいです。それもあって、次の読売新聞(長野版)のコラムを書きました。9月14日掲載の予定で、編集前の文章:

「長野に来て、ホームシックにならない?」とよく聞かれます。

もちろん、家族に会いたいけど、あまり帰りたいと思わないのは古里のシアトルと長野は共通点が多いからかもしれません。

始めて長野に来たのは、1993年でした。大学卒業後で、更に日本語を習う為に日本に暫く過ごしたいと思って、英会話講師を目指しました。長野の学校で面接しに行くと言う事で、特急あさま(新幹線の前の時代)に乗って来ました。県境を渡った瞬間に雄大の山々が見えて、「ここは私の住む所だな」と一目惚れでした。シアトルではほぼ毎日キャスケード山脈やタホマ富士と言われるレーニア山を見てました。周りに山がないと落ち着かないので、私にとっては日本の屋根である信州は親しみやすい場所です。

未だに休みの日は高原ドライブや山登りに行ってます。今年の家族の夏休みは乗鞍登山と山小屋でした。そして冬はスキーやスノーシューです。新幹線は便利で気楽に東京へ行けるが、そのコンクリートジャングルより長野の山の方が私を呼んでます。

一旦シアトルに戻ったが、旅館の跡継ぎとして再びに長野に住む様になった時、その条件の一つは薪ストーブでした。森林の深い環境で育たれた影響か、自分にとっては薪ストーブが必須です。幸いに長野も薪ストーブが多いです。薪仲間も沢山できたし、選定物を分けてくれるりんご農家と親しくなりました。信州と古里の薪ストーブ繋がりもあって、嬉しいです。

食文化も共通点が多いです。例えば長野県も私の生まれのワシントン州もりんご王国です。(向こうにもフジアップルが主流です!)シアトルは港町で、ネイティブの文化もあってサーモン料理が盛んでいます。長野は海がないですが、信州サーモンはあります。長野に来ても、私の大好きなサーモンを食べられるのは有難いです。

そう言えば、古里は日本に影響されてご当地巻き寿司があります。皆さんはカリフォルニア巻きがご存知だと思いますが、シアトル巻きもあります。中身はスモークサーモンとクリームチーズです。長野巻きを作ったら、中身は何が良いでしょうかね?

祭りの時期♪ 次は8月7日の千曲川花火大会 Festival Season! Next is 8/07 Fireworks!

July 16, 2019: 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, その他 Miscellaneous

上山田の温泉夏祭りは先日の海の日の連休で行われました。私ども亀清旅館の皆も全面的に参加しました。若女将が600人の民踊流しの相談役も。土曜日の近所のお神輿に滞在なされたオーストラリアからのご家族も担ぐ体験が出来ました。大盛り上がりでした。This past weekend was the Marine Day holiday 3-day weekend, and once again our onsen town's Kamiyamada Onsen Summer Festival took place.  All of here at Kamesei Ryokan fully participated in the festival, including our proprietress being one of the leaders of the 600-person folk dance.  A family from Australia was staying with us and they even got to help carry our neighborhood's omikoshi portable shrine.  Everyone had an exciting time.

2020年は海の日の連休が東京五輪の関係で異になります。従って、2020年の上山田温泉夏祭りは7月の第3ではなく、第4週末になります。7月24日(金)と25日(土)に決定になりました。かなり迫力のある祭りなので、皆様に是非にお越しになって頂きたいと思って要ります。For 2020, the Marine Day holiday weekend will be the 4th instead of the 3rd weekend in July in adjustment for the Tokyo Olympics. So the Kamiyamada Onsen Summer Festival will change accordingly.  It's been officially decided to take place on Friday 24-July and Saturday 25-July.  It's one of the most energetic festivals you'll ever see, so we hope everyone can come and experience it.

なお、戸倉上山田のこの夏のイベントはまだまだ続きます。次の一番大きいのは8月7日の千曲川花火大会です。1万発と言う盛大な花火で、皆さんが近くで見れるからほぼ真上で光ります。なおかつ、音が周辺の山から響くから、他の花火大会と更にすごい感動です。亀清旅館はその日、まだ空室がございますので、お問い合わせください。Summer festival season is still continuing, with the next big event being the annual August 7th Chikuma River Fireworks Festival.  With 10,000 projectiles and lasting an hour and a half, it is one of the biggest pyrotechnics displays in Japan.  The viewing locations along the river in front of our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada are in such close proximity to the launching site that it seems like the fireworks explode directly overhead.  And with the sound reverberating off the the surrounding mountains, it is an unforgettable show.   Here at Kamesei Ryokan, we still have rooms available for that night, so contact us for reservations and come and enjoy the festivities! 詳しくはこちらDetails Here.

 

亀清旅館から戸隠へお出かけを! Take a trip from Kamesei to Togakushi!

May 16, 2019: 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

戸隠高原~

パワースポット(奥社の杉並木)、

美味しいそば (長野県の代表の産地)

そして、

忍者!(戸隠れ流のちびっこ忍者村と忍法センター)

亀清旅館・戸倉上山田温泉から日帰りの人気スポット!

お車の方は善光寺経由で普通の道で約90分ですが、お急ぎの方もしくは混んでいる時期でしたら、逆に上信越道で信濃町IC経由なら亀清旅館から奥社の駐車場までは60分で行けます。(遠回りだし、高速代がかかるけど、30分も早い!)

電車の方は戸倉駅からしなの鉄道で長野駅まで25分、それからAlpicoのバスで60分。便利な時刻表:

Togakushi is one of the most popular day trips from Kamesei Ryokan and our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada.

It's famous for it's mystical spirituality (the ancient cedar trees lining the path to the Inner Shrine are breathtakingly-majestic!), soba noodles (Togakushi is one of Nagano's main buckwheat growing areas) and ... ninjas!  There's both the Chibikko Ninja Village (more for kids) by Chusha, the Middle Shrine, and the Ninpo Center by the entrance to Okusha, the Inner Shrine.

Access to Togakushi from Kamesei by car is via Nagano City's Zenkoji Temple (approx. 90 minutes).  If you're in a hurry or going during peak season, we suggest taking the Joshin'etsu Expressway to Shinanomachi IC and approach from the back side.  It's a longer route and expressway tolls apply, but it is 30 minutes faster.

For going by train, use the simple schedule above.  Basically it is 25 minutes by train from Togura to Nagano Station, and then the Alpico bus which takes approx. 60 minutes.

ちびっこ忍者村 Chibikko Ninja Village ←注:忍者屋敷は7月中旬まで工事中 Note:  The Ninja Fun House is under renovation until mid-July

忍法センター Ninpo Center

山口屋 Yamaguchi-Ya ←お勧めのおそば屋さん Recommended Soba Shop

森「日本一あんずの里)は満開になってきました。

April 6, 2019: 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

森「日本一あんずの里」の花は見頃になっ来ました。今週末(4月6-7日)は恐らく満開になります。
是非に見に来てください。
杏ソフトも美味しいですよ!

20190405
The apricot blossoms in Mori “Apricot Village” are approaching peak bloom. This weekend should be perfect!