戸倉セツブンソウ群生地: 可愛らしいお花で春の合図 Setsubun-so Wildflowers: Cute Sign of Spring

March 9, 2022: 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

戸倉駅の裏山(戸倉宿キティーパーク、別名「天狗公園」)にセツブンソウの群生地がある。「春の妖精」と呼ばれているセツブンソウは雪が融けると咲いて来ます。可愛らしい2〜3cm 白雪の花びらに鮮やかな黄色と紫色の中心部と言うエレガントな彩りさ。暖地で2月上旬に咲いて「節分草」お言われているが、この辺の標高が高くて雪が3月まで残る事が多くて一か月遅れです。(注: 2022年は雪が特に多かったために3月12日の週末から見ごろになりそうです。) 戸倉の群生地が長野県下最大級の広さだそうです。

Setsubun-so (Eranthis pinnatifida “winter aconite”) is a cute harbinger of winter. The wildflower’s tiny (2-3cm) snowy white petals contrast with the purple and yellow stamens to form an elegant color combination. In warmer climates it blooms around Setsubun, the change in seasons around February 3rd, hence the flower’s name. Here at our elevation the snow doesn’t melt until early March so Setsubun-so blooms a month later. (Note: for 2022 there’s been an unusually large snowfall so prime viewing won’t start until around the weekend of March 12th.)

戸倉キティパークの駐車場から徒歩750m、約20分 From the Togura Kitty Park parking lot, 750 meters, approximately 20 minutes on foot
途中の自在山神社と樹齢400年の天狗の松 Jizaisan Shrine and its 400-year old Tengu pine tree

お勧め里山登り: 弘法山(塩田平) 信仰と歴史の探検 Recommended Hike: Mt. Kobo. A Mystical and Samurai Adventure

March 1, 2022: 季節 Seasons, 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano, 信州の山 Nagano’s Mountains

上田市塩田平の前山寺の裏にある弘法山はさほど大きくないけど頂上からの眺めは素晴らしい。それより、塩田城の名残りそして頂上付近の33石仏探検、無茶苦茶楽しい山です。私はアイゼンが必要ぐらいに雪が積もっていて尚スリリングでした。

Kobo-Yama is the smallish mountain behind national treasure Zenzan-ji Temple on Ueda City’s Shioda Plain. Despite its short stature the view from the summit is stunning but what makes Kobo-Yama distinct are the remains of the Warring State era Shioda Castle and the adventure of finding the 33 stone Buddhas tucked into crevices around the peak.

弘法山から見下ろす塩田平 Looking down on the Shioda Plain from Mt. Kobo
塩田城跡(虎口)Shioda Castle: remains of the Tiger Gate
33石仏(弘法の眼)Searching for the 33 stone Buddhas — the Eye of the Kobo (Priest)

弘法山 Mt. Kobo (842m)

距離 Length 1.3km. 標高差 Elevation Gain 280m. 登り Ascent 90 min. 下り Descent 90 min. (探検しながら、前山寺見学含め)難度 Level of Difficulty: 初心者 Easy (冬は雪でアイゼン必須・中級 In winter Moderate due to needing crampons when snow). 2022.03.01

前山手の駐車場(とトイレ)Zenzan-ji parking lot (with toilet)
登山口(後は弘法山) Trailhead (Mt. Kobo in the distance)
足跡がガイド Footprints were our guide
一つ目の石仏見付け♪ Found the first stone Buddha
岩に階段が掘られた Stairs carved in stone
岩場 stone cliff
高さ2mの穴も Some hollows were 2m tall
他は高さ1.5m Others only 1.5 meters tall
背景は菅平 Sugadaira in the distance
塩田平と背景は戸隠山 The Shioda Plain with Mt. Togakushi in the background
塩田城城・虎口 Shioda Castle Remaiy
前山寺の未完成の三重塔 Zenzan-Ji’s “Unfinished” Pagoda

アクセス: お車なら前山寺は国宝なので沢山の看板が出てます。公衆トイレに広い駐車場あり。交通機関なら上田駅から別所線で塩田町駅、⑧信州の鎌倉シャトル線で前山寺バス停(本数と運行期間に限りあり)。 亀清旅館から車で20km、40分。戸倉駅から上田経由で塩田町まで約45分、バス20分又はタクシー5分。https://www.city.ueda.nagano.jp/uploaded/attachment/3023.pdf

ACCESS: By car, Zenzan-ji Temple is a National Treasure so well-signed. Use the large parking lot by the public toilet. By train, from Ueda Station take the Bessho Line to Shiodamachi and transfer to Bus #8 to the Zenzan-ji stop (frequency and operation limited). From Kamesei Ryokan, 20km (40 min.) by car. From Togura Station via Ueda 45 min. to Shiodamachi +20 min. bus or 5 min. taxi.

コース: 正面の登山口と塩田城経由の二つのコースがあるからループ可能。33石仏探しも含めて中嶋豊さんの「信州山歩き地図・里山編III北信東信」がマスト。COURSE: Two trailheads (official one above Zenzan-ji Temple and via Shioda Castle) so can be done as a loop. For both the course and for finding the 33 stone Buddhas, get Yutaka Nakajima’s 3rd hiking book.

冬の最強組み合わせ: 温かい温泉と甘〜い苺 (いちご狩りご案内) Strawberry Picking and Onsen Soaking: Nagano’s Winter Pastime

February 11, 2022: 季節 Seasons, 活動 Activities, グルメFoodie

信州の冬の人気な楽しみ方は温泉にのんびり入ってハウスでいちご狩りをする事です。外は寒いからこそ温泉は気持ち良いし、いちご狩りのハウスの中がぽかぽかです。何しろ、苺が甘くて美味しいです!  Here in Nagano one way that’s popular for enjoying winter is to soak in a hot spring bath and to go all-you-can-eat strawberry picking in a toasty warm greenhouse.

アグリパークAgri-Park

この亀清旅館・戸倉上山田温泉の同じ千曲市にアグリパークと言う有名ないちご狩り場所があります。約19kmで車で18分です。いちご狩りは時間制限無しで楽しめて、複数な種類があります。二段に分けてあるので小さいお子さん達は下の段がちょうど採りやすい高さです。隣接にパン屋さん、食堂、サボテンガーデン、みかん狩りハウス、植木や花の販売もあり、長く遊べます。 In the same Chikuma City that our Kamesei Ryokan and Onsen Town Togura Kamiyamada are located is Agri-Park, a famous strawberry picking spot. Located only 19km away, it is 18 minutes by car (or around 45 minutes by bicycle). There is no time limit For picking and eating the strawberries and several different varieties to try. Agri-Park also has a cactus garden, mikan orange picking, a bakery and cafeteria, and a flower and plant nursery so it is easy to spend half a day there.

亀清旅館の便利のいちご狩り付き宿泊プランはこちら

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アグリパークの入り口 Entrance to Agri-Park

アグリパークの甘〜い苺 Agri-Park’s sweet strawberries

時間制限無しの食べ放題 All-you-can-eat with no time limit
サボテンのハウスも Cactus Greenhouse
パン屋さんと食堂 Bakery and Cafeteria
彩りの花屋 colorful flower shop

アグリパークの詳しくAgri-Park details  

こもろ布引いちご園 Komoro Nunobiki Strawberry Park

東京方面からのお客様にいちご狩りのお勧め: 小諸市「布引いちご園」。ここの苺はまた甘〜い!ハウスも広くて中に食べれるテーブルと椅子もあります。隣接に立ち寄り湯もあります。For guests coming from the Tokyo area, another recommended strawberry picking place is Nunobiki Ichigo-en in Komoro City. The berries there are the sweetest, and the greenhouses are spacious and even have a designated eating area with tables and chairs.

布引いちご園の詳しく Nunobiki Ichigo-en details

 

お勧めのスノーシュー: 戸隠 Recommended Snowshoeing: Togakushi

February 3, 2022: 季節 Seasons, 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano, 信州の山 Nagano’s Mountains

戸隠奥社の杉並木がパワースポットで大人気ですが、実は雪の時も素敵で、なおかつスノーシューに適しています。

信州の冬はスキーやスノーボードが世界的に有名ですが、スノーシューも楽しいです。

The giant cedar trees of Togakushi’s Okusha (Inner Shrine) in the mountains above central Nagano City are popular as a sort of Power Vortex. The cedars are especially impressive during the winter and the area is our favorite place for snowshoeing.

戸隠奥社の杉並木。雪と素敵なコントラスト。The towering cedars lining the path to Togakushi’s Inner Shrine

信州の冬はスキーやスノーボードが世界的に有名ですが、スノーシューだんだん話題になってきています。私たちは菅平、乗鞍高原、御嶽山など県内のあちらこちらでやっていますが、一番の気に入りスノーシュー場所は戸隠奥社です。冬でしか行けない見どころがあるし、雪が深くて普通な靴がだめですから。

Winter in Nagano is synonymous with skiing and snowboarding and rightly so. But steadily snowshoeing is gaining in popularity. We’ve gone snowshoeing throughout the prefecture but keep returning to our favorite: Togakushi. It has areas that are only accessible when covered in snow and would be impossible with just regular shoes.

亀清の女将: スノーシューの笑顔 Kamesei’s proprietress in her happy place snowshoeing at Togakushi

2月の上旬に行ったら雪が1.5mぐらい積もってました。奥社入り口で駐車して、スノーシューを付けて鳥居をくぐって杉並木が始まる場所に位置している随神門へ向かいました。

When we went in early February there was about 5 feet of snow. We parked at the Okusha entrance, put on the snowshoes, passed the Torii gate and headed towards the Zuijinmon Gate which marks the beginning of the cedars.

入り口の鳥居。随神門まではよく通られて普通な靴で行けるがその道から一歩離ればスノーシューが必要。The entrance Torii. The path to Zuijinmon is well-enough traveled so that regular shoes could suffice but take one step off the path and you’ll need snowshoes.
ミズナラ大王 “King of the Forest” Oak

入り口の鳥居から随神門までは約1km。そのちょうど真ん中点辺りから足跡が右斜めに進む。追いつけばこの森の王様に辿り着く。

随神門を通ればパワースポットの杉並木へ

パワースポットで有名の杉並木は雪とのコントラストがまた格別です。太陽が積もっている雪から反射してその特徴の模様の杉皮が光って神秘的です。人間が小さく感じます。

クマさんの目印 Follow the golden bear

杉並木を見てからクロスカントリースキーのコース(黄色い熊のマークが目印)が随神門と鏡池を結ぶ。このコースはスノーシュー(もしくはスキーの板)が必須。

天命稲荷神社を通って Pass by the Tenmei Inari Shrine and its rows of vermilion Torii gates
長〜い影 Long shadows
鏡池の上から見る戸隠山 Togakushi Mtn. as seen from on top of Mirror Pond

冬で鏡池に雪が積もるから上に歩ける。戸隠連峰が迫力ある背景になります。ピクニックには最適な場所。 In winter Kagami Ike (“Mirror Pond”) is covered by a layer of snow so thick that you can walk out on to the middle of the pond, meaning you can literally walk on water. With the towering Togakushi Range as a dramatic backdrop the pond makes a perfect place for a picnic.

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.

夏休みに亀清で滞在♪ 周辺観光の人気トップ10; Long Stay Vacation in Nagano: Top 10 Nearby Day Trips

July 13, 2020: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan, 季節 Seasons, 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano, 信州の山 Nagano’s Mountains, その他 Miscellaneous

この夏は長野で長期滞在の休みは如何でしょうか? 亀清旅館をベースにして、長野を探検しましょう! 亀清旅館のお客さんに調査した結果: 周辺のトップ10人気観光スポットを発表します。

1.善光寺

なんせ、戸倉上山田温泉は善光寺の精進落としの湯ですよ。本堂に設置してある秘仏が一光三尊阿弥陀如来様で、552年に朝鮮半島から日本に渡ってきた。日本で最も古い仏像である。七年に一度にご開帳で披露されますが、普段は本堂の下を潜る「戒壇巡り」で秘仏の下にある「カギ」を触る事が出来る。触る事によって、自分の願いがその秘仏に通じます。そして、その真っ暗の廊下からまた外に出る時に瞬間に「復活」の気持ちが感動的。

善光寺でお参りする際、仲見世通りでお土産を買ったり、信州そばを食べたりするのも決まり。

亀清旅館からのアクセス: 車で27㎞、約50分。国道18号線を下って、長野の市街に入れば看板が出ます。電車で戸倉駅⇔長野駅は25分、それからバスで約5分。

亀清アドバイス:お車の方は亀清で駐車しといて、戸倉駅から電車で行って、長野駅から善光寺まで歩く事。善光寺周辺の駐車場が混むし、大体はお寺に裏にあります。駅から歩けば、仲見世通りのお店を楽しめる。その賑やかな道の両脇の通りに宿坊が並んでいて、又奥深くて静かな佇まい。駅から善光寺までは2㎞、普通に歩けば約30分。

2.軽井沢

長野県の代表的な高原リゾート、軽井沢は自然で恵まれて、美術館やブティック店と飲食店のメッカ、可愛いチャペル、そして…アウトレット! 豪華な万平や三笠ホテルそして別荘地でリッチな気分になります。

亀清旅館からのアクセス:お車も電車も、早い方法とのんびりした方法あります。車の場合、上信越道の小諸IC経由で50㎞、約55分。高速道路を乗らずに浅間サンラインを走れば、10分ぐらい余計にかかるけど、畑や山の景色がその分の価値があり。電車は上田・軽井沢間で北陸新幹線を使えば45分で行ける。戸倉からしなの鉄道にゆっくり乗れば、軽井沢まで約1時間45分(料金は3分の1ぐらい)。

亀清からのアドバイス:お車なら週末や連休、夏休みに軽井沢はよく渋滞になるので、避けた方が良い。買い物はアウトレットが主流ですが、旧軽井沢に軽井沢彫りなど、ユニークな専門店が沢山あるし、ハルニレテラスは信州の自然を活かしたおしゃれな場所でお勧め。

3.戸隠

戸を隠す…という神話から始まって、戸隠は神秘的なパワースポット。特に戸隠奥社の参道を並ぶ杉木で自然の力を感じれる場所。戸隠そばも有名で、その高原の綺麗な水を使ってその綺麗な空気で作ったお蕎麦はやはり一味違う。それで、戸隠はもう一つな秘密がある:戸隠れ流の忍者。うちのお客さんの何組かは戸隠のちびっ子忍者村がUSJより楽しいと感動した。

亀清旅館からのアクセス: お車は2ルートがあります。従来なのは善光寺まで出て、登っていくの45分+45分、合計90分。しかし、更埴ICから上信越道に乗って信濃町ICで降りて、裏から登れば亀清から奥社の駐車場まで60分で行ける。遠回りだし、高速代がかかるけど、早い。電車は戸倉から長野駅まで25分、Alpicoバスで戸隠まで約60分です。

亀清のアドバイス: 戸隠は四季にそれぞれの魅力がある。秋は一番人気(特に鏡池の紅葉風情が良い;10月の週末はマイカー規制がかかるのでご注意ください)。しかし、春は水芭蕉やバードウォッチング、夏は高原の涼しさや川遊び、そして冬はスノーシューのパラダイスです。良いコースを紹介しますので、ご相談してください。 忍者について、忍法センターは忍者村ほど大きくないけど、穴場的なので、お勧め。

4.松本

国宝のカラス城と呼ばれている松本城が昔から大人気で、最近は草間彌生の作品を展示している松本市美術館も注目を浴びている。縄手通りと中町で買い物も良し、旧開智学校こそ国宝に認定された。

亀清旅館からのアクセス:姨捨SAスマートICを使えば、松本・亀清の間は45分。電車の場合、姨捨駅と亀清の間の送迎は出来ますので、姨捨駅・松本駅は約45分。

亀清のアドバス: 私たちは松本の民芸文化が好きです。中町とその延長の日ノ出町で小さな楽しいお店が沢山ある(ちきりや工芸店が大好き!)。少し離れている松本民芸館で松本家具とか見れます。そして、5月末で行われるクラフトフェアは全国から集まる。

5.小布施

栗と北斎で有名な小布施町。日本やアジアのお客さんのほとんどは栗のモンブランを目指す。欧米のお客さんのほとんどは北斎館と岩松院へ。栗の小径もマスト。

亀清旅館からのアクセス:お車は長野道・小布施スマートIC経由で38㎞、約45分。電車は戸倉・小布施を長野駅経由で約80分。

亀清からのアドバイス:町の中心街に高井鴻山記念館が私たちの気に入りスポット。高井さんは北斎のパトロンでしたので、小布施町と北斎のルーツを探れる。 中心街から離れたら、岩松院の奥に浄光寺、別名「スラックラインでら」があります。まあ、とにかく、住職がお寺の歴史を守りながら、色んな発想で新しい取り組みも。隣の「茶房まめ家」のお豆腐レストランがお勧め。

6.日本の屋根: 上高地や美ヶ原、そしてロープウエーや夏リフト

長野は山の国である。北、中央、南の3つのアルプスに志賀高原や北信五岳、どこに行っても、山! 乗鞍エコラインのバス、駒ケ岳ロープウエー(千畳敷カール)、美ヶ原のビーナスラインや車山展望リフト、北志賀高原の竜王SORAテラス、斑尾・タングラムの野尻湖テラス、白馬のマウンテンハーバーなど、すべてが亀清旅館から簡単に日帰りできるし、私達が近年に自ら行ってますから様々のアドバイスが出来ます。割引券もございます。

アクセスとアドバイスは様々ありますので、お問い合わせをください。とにかく、日本の屋根から降りてきたら、亀清の温泉へどうぞ!

7.トレッキングや山登り

沢山のお客様が信州でトレッキングや登りなされる際、我が亀清旅館にお泊りになります。実は、私共もはまってますので、戸倉上山田温泉周辺の山の全てを登っているし、浅間山や志賀高原の有名な所から「金太郎の生まれた大姥山」の様な穴場的なところまで、沢山冒険してます。天気やアクティビティレベルに合わせて、様々のコース紹介が出来ます!雨の日のインドアロッククライミングなどもあります。

アクセスとアドバイスはそれこそ、色々ありますので、ご相談ください。

8.信州ワインバレー

最近、長野産のワインが話題になってきてます。素晴らしいワイナリー(景色、風情、ワイナリーレストランなど)沢山あります。私たちが特に好きなのは東御市の リュードヴァン、上田市のシャトー・メルシャン椀子ワイナリー、隣の坂城町のVino della Gatta、須坂の楠ワイナリー(このシャルドネは人生を変わる!)、飯縄のサンクゼール。

アクセスとアドバイスはまた好みを教えてくれたら、詳しく紹介できます。飲酒運転しない様に。

9.あんずの里、フルーツ狩り

日本一杏の里は近くの森地区です。4月上旬はその農村全体が薄いピンク色に染められる。見事です。一度、是非に見てください。桜と違って限られた場所ではなく森で杏の木は一目で10万本が見えると言われている。背景に雪をかぶっている北アルプスも見えるし、最高な景色です。

杏の実は6月末・7月上旬になります。杏はドライドやジャムが多いけど、この時期は生で食べられる。同じ時期にさくらんぼ狩りが出来、7~8月はネクタリンや川中島のもも、9月はぶどう、10~11月はりんご、冬と春の間はハウスのいちご。一年中フルーツ狩りが出来る。ぶどうとりんごは特に人気があって、果樹園は亀清旅館から2㎞でとっても便利。

アクセスとアドバイスはフルーツ狩りが天候によりますので、その都度に案内します。

10.姨捨「田毎の月」棚田 *日本遺産*

亀清旅館から車で10分に冠着山の中腹に姨捨の「田毎の月」で有名な棚田があり、日本原風景です。俳句家の松尾芭蕉や一茶がわざわざ見に来たし、浮世絵の広重はお月さんが田んぼごとに反射している絵を作った。月の都との事で、日本遺産に認定されている。棚田と近辺の姨捨駅から善光寺平を見下ろすので、その夜景がまた格別。

アクセスとアドバイス:戸倉上山田温泉から姨捨夜景ツアーがございます。亀清旅館の主人も当番でガイドしてます。是非にご一緒に!

 

明けましておめでとうございます。2020年は宜しくお願い致します。Welcome to 2020!

January 5, 2020: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan, 季節 Seasons

2020年になりました♪

2019年にお越しになったお客様、感謝しております。お陰様で2019年に我が亀清旅館で様々な改善が出来ました。一番大きなのは手造り露天「100年風呂」の移築工事が出来ました。お客様の声を聞き入れて、内風呂から直接に行けるようにしました。(それまでは脱衣場を通る必要という不便な場所でした。)なおかつ、ほどほどの深さにしました。(以前の湯舟は深過ぎたという声もありました。)

他には細かい改装は沢山しました。客室の壁の漆喰塗りや洗面台の改装、レンタサイクルの事業(ずくだしエコツアー)は台数が増えて、置き場は亀清旅館の裏側に移しました。等々。

しかし、2019年の一番大きい思い出は10月の台風19号でした。戸倉上山田温泉の土手はあと30cmまで水面が上がりました。怖かったです。幸いに大きな災害がありませんでした。千曲川の土手が崩れた長野市豊野地区に何度も災害ボランティアの活動してきました。ボランティアや関係の作業の方の宿泊は少なくなかったです。亀清旅館はボランティアの皆さんの為の割引宿泊プランを提供しました。2020年に支援の方法を計画しております。

戸倉上山田温泉の宣伝は一生懸命活動しております。海外での知名度も少し上がったのか、外国人宿泊者はまた増えました。(ラグビーワールドの影響もありました。)2019年は1506名(全体の22%)お泊りになりました。比べたら、2018年は1475名(21%)、2017年は1249名(18%)でした。地域として、東アジアは16%、北・南米は30%、欧州は36%、オーストラリア・NZは16%です。国ベースでトップ5は米国、和蘭陀(最近はツアーが来るようになりました)、豪州、UK、シンガポールでした。

2020年はまた大きい改装の予定しております。お楽しみにしてください。またのお越しをお待ちしておりますので、宜しくお願い致します。

The Year of the Rat, 2020 is here!

We would like to take this moment to thank all of the kind people who came and stayed at Kamesei Ryokan in 2019.  Thanks to everyone's support, we managed once again to make some major improvements to our inn.  The biggest change was re-locating our main outdoor bath.  Once again, our "100-Year Bath" is hand-built, made from river rock.

2019's most positive highlight was the Rugby World Cup, but that was overshadowed by Typhoon Hagibis in October.  Thankfully our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada had no major damage.

We have many more improvements planned for 2020, and await your stay!

冬こそ、戸隠へ行こう! Togakushi is Great in Winter, Too!

December 27, 2019: 季節 Seasons, 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano

戸隠はお蕎麦と神秘的な自然と忍者で有名です。

冬は忍者が冬眠(忍法センターもちびっこ忍者村が閉じている)が

戸隠そばは冬にも味が変わらず、最高に美味しいです。

戸隠奥社の杉並木は雪景色でさらに綺麗です。

亀清旅館からアクセスはしなの鉄道+アルピコバスで楽です。2019・2020年冬の時刻表を作りました。

Togakushi is an easy day trip from our inn, Kamesei Ryokan.  It's a 25 minute train + 60 minute bus.  Schedule for Winter 2019/2020 as above.

Snow Monkey Schedule for Winter 2019/2020 冬季スノーモンキー時刻表 

December 9, 2019: 温泉Onsens, 季節 Seasons, 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano

Kamesei Ryokan is a convenient 25 minute train + 45 minute express bus to the trailhead for the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park.  The world-famous Snow Monkeys are an ever-popular day trip from our inn.  We updated the train and bus schedule for the 2019 / 2020 Winter Season.

For this season, Nagaden Bus has increased the express bus frequency.  Also new for this season is a QR Payment stand at the Nagano Station East Exit during weekends and holidays, which will make purchasing the 2-day Snow Monkey Pass a breeze.

This winter, come to Kamesei Ryokan to enjoy our relaxing inn and snowy gardens, indulge in our rejuvenating thermal onsen baths and feast on our chef's sumptuous kaiseki-style dinner, while making a side trip to see the blissful faces of the macaques as they soak in their onsen bath.

地獄谷野猿公苑の登口は亀清旅館から電車で25分と急行バスで45分。当館からのお出かけスポットとして相変わらず人気です。時刻表を2019・2020年の冬季で更新しました。長電バスの本数が増えて、今年からQRコード支払いが可能となりました。

この冬は亀清旅館や戸倉上山田の温泉らしいお湯そして我がChef武井の創作懐石料理を、その可愛いスノーモンキーと合わせて楽しましょう!

 

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/