森「あんずの里」の花は2,3部 Mori's Apricot Blossoms at 20-30%

April 14, 2011: 季節 Seasons

Date spot -- Mori's Apricot Village

昨日は若女将とデート(?)で森「あんずの里」の花状況をチェックしてきました。まだ2,3部でしたが、昨日から温かくなって、今日、明日も20℃続いて、これで週末まで綺麗に咲くでしょう。

またデート(?)して、お知らせします。

Yesterday, Kamesei's young proprietress and I went for a date (?) to Mori's Apricot Village to check on how the blossoms are coming. They're still only at 20-30%. But from yesterday, the temperature has risen and the afternoons will be in the 20's (Celsius) through tomorrow, so we expect the apricot trees to be in full bloom by the weekend.

Will check back soon (another date?) and advise!





智識寺の春祭りは今週の日曜日 Chishiki-Ji Temple's Spring Festival this Sunday

April 13, 2011: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

The venerable Chishi-Ji and its moss-covered thatched roof

戸倉上山田温泉の地元のお寺、智識寺 aka 十一面観音の春祭りは毎年4月17日に行います。今年は日曜日になります。ローカルな、シンプルな祭りなんですけど、だからこそ面白いと思います。

ちなみに、我々上山田お神楽保存会も獅子舞をやりますので、良かったら見に来てください。

A simple, local festival featuring the airing-out of the temple’s ancient scrolls. Several monks give a solemn chant as, along with local dignitaries, they ceremonially air-out the Buddhist scrolls. This is the one time of the year that the sacred 11-Faced Goddess image is openly displayed for public viewing. A sishi-lion dance performance by the Kamiyamada Okagura Preservation troupe will also take place (with Yours Truly on the flute).

Chishiki-Ji Temple, on Nagano Prefectural Route 55 approximately 2km (25 min. walk) from Togura Kamiyamada Onsen. Nearest train station is Togura Station on the Shinano Railway Line.








戸倉上山田温泉イースターエッグフェスティバルは4月24日(日)! Togura Kamiyamada Onsen Easter Egg Festival Sunday April 24th

April 12, 2011: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

It's Easter Egg Time Again!

今年のイースターエッグフェスティバルin戸倉上山田温泉は4月24日(日)に開催です。チョコ入りの卵は1000個を温泉の千曲川沿い噴水公園で隠して、子供達が探すという楽しいイベント。

毎年、町の子供達がこのイベントに馴染んできて、参加者がどんどんと増えています。去年は百数十人のお子さんたちの笑顔がありました。亀清のChef武井を込めて温泉の調理師会青年部が卵料理も提供し、今年はまた馬車が登場する予定です。楽しいゲームもあるし、皆さんに是非参加して頂きたいです。

今年の実行委員長はまた私ですので、是非宜しくお願い致します。

イースターエッグフェスティバルin戸倉上山田温泉
2011年4月24日(日)
13:30-15:30 (受付は13:00~)
参加費: 子供一人200円
エッグハント、ゲーム、エッグアート
完了後、戸倉上山田温泉の旅客見合いの提供で、お風呂の入浴券も付きます。
持ち物: エッグアート用のゆで卵、お風呂グッズ
RSVP: 千曲国際交流協会 Tel/Fax 026-274-3150

This year's Easter Egg Festival in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen will be held on Sunday April 24th. Over the years, the towns people have really taken to the festival (this will be our 6th year!). Last year we had over 100 kids participate at our prime spot by the fountain along the Chikuma River in front of Togura Kamiyamada Onsen.

This year we will once again have over 1000 eggs hidden in the park for a massive Easter Egg Hunt. There will be games and egg coloring. And once again, our Chef Takei and other ryokan chefs will cook up some yummy omelets, and this year, too, we are looking forward to having horse buggy rides.

Yours Truly will once again be the event chairperson, so I hope you can come and participate!

6th Annual Easter Egg Festival in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen
April 24th (Easter Sunday)
1:30pm - 3:30pm
Cost: 200 yen per child
Easter Egg Hunt, Games, Egg Art
Onsen Bath passes for participants, courtesy of the Togura Kamiyamada Ryokan Association
What to Bring: Hard boiled eggs to color, a towel for your onsen bath.
RSVP: Chikuma Int'l Exchange Assoc. Tel/Fax 026-274-3150





牛に引かれて善光寺詣り 5月5日 'Pulled By an Ox to Zenkoji' Walk May 5th

April 12, 2011: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

我々戸倉上山田温泉旅館青年部の毎年の大イベント:「牛に引かれれて善光寺詣り」の第30回は今年、5月5日(木)に行います。今回は東日本大震災のチャリティーとして実施する予定です。この戸倉上山田温泉から善光寺の30kmのウォーキングです。ぜひ、ご一緒に歩きましょう!

去年は私が実行委員長で、宮崎県で発生した牛の病気で、牛の参加は直前に自粛になってしまいました「牛のない牛に引かれて善光寺」でした。今年は牛がちゃんと先頭してくれる予定なので、ちゃんとした詣りになると思います。

RSVPは4月20日までです。問い合わせは千曲観光協会へ

This year's running (walking?) of the 'Pulled by an Ox to Zenkoji' event will be held on Thursday May 5th. This will be the 30th edition of the 30km walk from our onsen town, Togura Kamiyamada to Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City.

Last year it was my turn to be the event chairperson, and it was my luck to have an outbreak of some cow disease in southern Japan right before the event was to take place. So we had to cancel Satoko-chan's appearance. That's the ox that was scheduled to lead us in the walk.

This year, we should once again have an ox leading us. The cut-off for RSVP's is April 20th. I hope you can join us for the walk. Check with the Chikuma City Tourism Bureau for details.


Scene from Last Year's Walk


姨捨駅・周辺の掃除・工事 Obasute Station Construction Alert

April 11, 2011: その他 Miscellaneous

Station Facelift

姨捨駅の外観掃除が始まっています。いつも可愛いらしい駅舎は今、緑のネットで隠れています。6月まで我慢すれば、きっと更に綺麗な外観になります。

そして、姨捨駅・長楽寺周辺は下水道管工事が行われています。道の通行止めもあります。詳しくは千曲市観光協会のHPへ。

亀清旅館の姨捨夜景・伝説ツアーにこの工事は影響がありませんので、お客様の御希望があれば喜んでご一緒に行きます。是非、声をかけてください。この時期は姨捨の「田毎の月」で有名な棚田の田植えの準備が始まっています。今年こそ、田んぼ毎に映っている月様が見えるかな?

The Obasute Station station house is getting a heavy-duty cleaning. The normally cute station house is currently covered in green construction netting. But we'll only have to put up with it for a couple of months, and then the facade will surely be even cuter than ever.

In addition, the roads around Obasute Station and Choraku-ji Temple are being torn up for sewage pipe installation. The construction will result in some road closures. Details are on the Chikuma City Tourism Bureau's website.

None of this construction will affect Kamesei Ryokan's 'Obasute Legends / Night View Tour'. So if our guests would like to go on the tour, I would be happy to go with them. And the famous moon-reflecting Obausute rice fields are in the process of being prepared for flooding and planting. Hopefully this year I'll be able to see the moon reflecting in the rice pads.







5am座禅プランのお知らせ 5am Zazen Meditation Plan

April 10, 2011: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan

喧騒から離れて

地震・津波・原発の不安の中で…

昨日にも書きましたが、旅館は静けさを提供するのが重要だと。その為のプランを提供したいのでお知らせします:

リセットプラン: 若旦那と朝五時座禅

この時こそ、温泉宿に泊まって、心の修業はいかがでしょうか?お泊りになる日の次の朝5時に亀清のロビーで集合し、青い目の若旦那と一緒に開眼寺の座禅堂にて座禅を体験すると言うプランです。その後、亀清に戻り、朝食を召し上がって頂けます。

朝5時に頑張って起きて、開眼寺へ向かって、木造の温もりの座禅堂で小鳥の鳴き声や森の風の音だけ、つまり都会の喧騒から離れて静かなときと場所でご一緒に座禅をしませんか?

このプランではお料理が夕食も朝食もChef武井の手をかけた亀清旅館の代表の料理です。
お湯は上山田の温泉らしいお湯女湯にも男湯にもそれぞれ露天風呂が付いております。
お部屋は離れ風かお風呂前か2階山景色のどれかになります。

注意点:

*座禅のやった事ない人でも大歓迎。若旦那が事前に1ポイント座禅レッスン致します。

*座禅堂の場所はお寺さんなので参加者は志付けをお願いいたします。

詳しくは亀清のHPへ
The 3.11 earthquake and tsunami disaster and the ensuing radiation scare has taken a toll on all of our psyches. As per my previous entry, we here at Kamesei Ryokan are hoping to do our part by providing a quiet place for people to get back in touch with themselves. As part of this effort, we would like to introduce a new plan:

"Reset Plan" 5am Zen Meditation

Perhaps we all need to stop and make time for some meditation.

We here at Kamesei Ryokan would like to provide a relaxing stay at our onsen ryokan, where guests can enjoy our peaceful, traditional inn, the rejuvenating onsen baths, and our chef's tantalizing kaiseki-style dinner, followed by a trip to nearby Kaigen-ji Temple's zazen room for an early morning meditation session.

Kaigen-ji is a centuries-old temple with a modern all-wood zazen meditation hall in the forested hills above the Chikuma River here in the Nagano countryside. At 5am, the temple is silent and still, with only the sounds of birds chirping and the wind rustling in the nearby trees -- perfect for a quiet time of inner reflection.

Note:

Plan includes dinner in your guestroom as well as breakfast served back at our inn following the 5am zazen meditation. Our onsen baths are available 24 hours a day featuring 100% flow-through natural hot spring mineral water. Both the mens and womens baths have outdoor 'rotenburo' baths also.

Zazen meditation first-timers are welcome -- our proprietor will gladly explain the basics in English.

A amall donation for the temple would be appropriate.

For details, please see the Kamesei website.





旅館の提供出来る事:静けさ What a Ryokan can Provide: Quiet and peacefulness

April 9, 2011: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi

静けさ: 亀清の提供

東北地震・津波・原発問題でテレビや新聞などで、辛いニュースばかりです。皆さんは旅するムードがなくなっちゃう。「レジャー離れ」となっています。原発や停電の関係ない長野でも、予約キャンセルの津波が続いています。

アメリカも、9.11のテロ事件の後、皆が自粛して、国内のホテル業界に影響がやはりかなりありました。調べたら、ホテル側で元気を取り戻す方法として、その時に一番必要となっていた「安心感」を提供するのが重要だったそうです。Securityを強化して、その安心感でPRしたそうです。

日本の3.11の後、皆さんの不安に応対する様に我々旅館は何の提供ができるか、色々と考えました。停電、余震、原発、色んな心配はある。その喧騒から離れて、静かな所へ行く必要性があるのではないかと思います。日本の旅館はまさにそんな場面の提供はしています。温泉やお料理でリラックス、満足して、お部屋の落ち着かせる雰囲気、静けさになる。

この間のお客さんから頂いた言葉:「亀清に泊まったおかげで肩から荷を下ろせた」と。

お客様に静けさを提供するのはこれからの仕事。

Following the 3.11 earthquake / tsunami and ensuing radiation disasters, the news here has been filled with gloomy, depressing images. After seeing so many of those, everyone's desire to go travel has taken a huge hit. This aversion to 'leisure' has resulted in a tsunami of cancelations at inns like ours, even here in Nagano which is unaffected by the radiation and electrical shortages.

In America, following the 9.11 terror attacks, the hotel / hospitality industry took a similar hit. Nobody felt like travelling after seeing all the destruction and loss of lives. One thing the industry focused on in order to entice people to go travel again was to focus on security and creating an environment of 'safety'.

I've been giving a lot of thought to what us ryokans here in Japan can contribute to providing an environment where people would feel comfortable to travel again. With all the worries about aftershocks, radiation, power outages, etc., perhaps the best thing a ryokan can do for everyone to provide a sanctuary of quiet and peace. With the relaxing onsen baths and nourishing meals, and the calming simplicity of the guestrooms, our guests can put their worries aside and enjoy a quiet time of reflection.

One of our recent guests commented their stay at Kamesei was like taking a giant weight off their shoulders.

That's what our job as a ryokan is -- providing a quiet place for people get back in touch with themselves.





老舗おそば屋さん: 稲荷山のつる忠 Classic Soba Shop: Tsuruchu in Inariyama

April 8, 2011: グルメFoodie

Tsuruchu's stylish exterior

千曲市の稲荷山地区に「つる忠」と言う老舗なおそば屋さんがあります。お蕎麦にうるさい信州の中で、つる忠は評判のいい方だそうです。先日は初めて行きました。そば屋さんとして歴史が百年以上あるらしいけど、建物事態は割と新しいです。明るくておしゃれな作りで、その背景でお蕎麦はなお美味しく食べれる。

我々欧米人はクールジャパンを憧れています。このつる忠さんで昭和初期までお客さんが馬に乗って来店したそうです。そのころからの馬つなぎ石が玄関に飾った有ります。それが最もクール!

私がお店の事をへたに説明するより、私の稲荷山街並み保存会の仲間の文章を参照してください

In Chikuma City's Inariyama District, approximately 20 minutes by car from Kamesei Ryokan and our onsen town of Togura Kamiyamada, is a classic soba restaurant called Tsuruchu. The other day, I went to eat there for my first time.

Tsuruchu has been serving soba for over 100 years. Their current building was built relatively recently but with a traditional style. The bright, stylish design complements the soba eating experience nicely.

We Westerners are big fans of 'Cool Japan'. And this Tsuruchu restaurant has some really 'cool' touches. Apparently their customers used to come by horse up until the early Showa period (the 1930's), and they have a stone used for tethering horses from back then on display in their entrance. How cool is that!

Rather than attempting to explain the finer details about Tsuruchu here, I will leave it to my buddy at the Inariyama Preservation Society and the explanation on his blog.



The cool horse tethering rock


森「あんずの里」:つぼみ状態 Mori's Apricot Village trees starting to bud

April 7, 2011: 季節 Seasons

Apricot trees starting to bud

森「あんずの里」のあんずまつりは4月2日から始まったけど、今年のあんずの花が遅れています。どんな状況か、昨日、又行ってみました。咲いている木も多少ありましたが、大体つぼみ状態でした。今週末ぐらいから咲き始まるかな?

Our local Mori 'Apricot Village' district's Apricot Blossom Festival started on April 2nd, but the trees are late in blooming this year. Yesterday I went to see how they were developing. While there were a few trees starting to flower, most were still just in the budding stage. Hopefully they will start to blossom by this weekend.

プロのカメラマン、島田さんのあんずの写真はこちらClick here for pro camerman, Shimada-san's apricot blossom pic's



Some trees in bloom


客室の冷蔵庫を工夫した:電源スイッチ

April 6, 2011: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan

亀清旅館の客室の冷蔵庫は今まで24時間365日間で電源が付けっぱなしでした。以前からは気になっていたが、今の震災関係の節電の中で、スイッチを取り付けるチャンスだと思いました。先日に里帰りした時に、適応な物を見つけたので、買って帰りました。この2,3日日間に取り付ける作業をしました。

これで客室の冷蔵庫、全部にスイッチが付きました!掃除のバイトの人が、「えっ、こういう専用なスイッチがあるんだ!」と驚きました。いいえ、専用なスイッチじゃなくて、私が工夫して取り付けた訳。

冷蔵庫のご利用したいお客様はご自由にスイッチをオンにして、ご利用して頂けます。これで電気の無駄使いの一つを防ぐことが出来ました。

Up until now, the refrigerators in the guest rooms here at Kamesei Ryokan have been running 24 hours, 365 days a year. I had always thought that to be a wasteful use of energy. Now with the earthquake / tsunami / nuclear radiation problems resulting in a nationwide electricity shortage, I decided to take advantage of the situation and attach switches to all of our refrigerators. When I was in back home in the States, I picked up a suitable switch at a home center store, and over the past few days I worked to attach them to all of the refrigerators.

One of our cleaning ladies saw them and said, 'Wow, I didn't know there were switches for this.' There aren't -- I had gotten creative and made my own solution.

Now our guests have the option of switching on the fridges whenever they like. Meantime, they stay off, meaning an end to a waste of electricity!