秋祭りの子供相撲も Kids Sumo, too, at the Fall Festival

September 28, 2010: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

Kenny's winning sumo move

上山田の波閉科(はべしな)神社の秋祭りはお相撲を大々的に開催している。千曲市の全ての神社の中で大人の相撲も子供の相撲もやっているのここだけだそうです。私も以前にお相撲に参加させて事があります。うちの子供達は毎年にすごく楽しみにしています。

今年の子供相撲のLynch家の結果はどうだったでしょうか?少し練習したお蔭か、三人とも勝ちました。二男は特にいい勝負でした。買ったら、「ケン君、良く出来た!練習して良かった!」と言ったら、周りが「練習したの?」と不思議な顔していました。「あたりまえ。だって、去年はあいつが女の子に負けちゃった」と説明しました。

子供達にきっといい思い出になったでしょう。子育てには上山田はやはりいいよね。

Besides the okagura lion dance which I wrote about yesterday, Habeshina Shrine's fall festival also features a fairly elaborate sumo wrestling tournament. It's the only shrine in the whole city that has both adult and kids sumo. I myself have done the full fundoshi and participated in years past. Our kids look forward to the tournament every year.

So, how did Andy, Kenny and Misaki do? All three of them won individual bouts! Perhaps it was because we practiced a bit ahead of time. We were especially proud of Kenny, who put up a very good fight. After he won, I yelled, "Good job Kenny! The practicing came in handy!" Several of the people around were surprised -- "You guys practiced?!" "Well, of course. Last year he got beat by a girl!"

Anyways, this is one of the benefits of raising our kids out here in Japan's countryside -- they get to experience sumo.



Misaki-chan's sumo


Misaki's winning move


Habeshina's Sumo Ring


お神楽の一日 Entire Day of Okagura

September 27, 2010: 上山田お神楽 Kamiyamada Lion Dance

That's me in the back!

昨日は上山田の波閉科(はべしな)神社の秋祭りでした。

私は布団上げとお客さんのお会計が終わったら、作務衣から祭りの格好に変身して、お神楽の皆と一緒に参加しました。開会式の1回目の獅子舞から初めて、神社まで行列で進んで、それからは周辺や温泉街を回りました。夜に神社へ戻って、爆竹付きのグランドフィナーレの一舞。

長い一日でしたが、毎年の秋の楽しみ。

(上の写真は旅館青年部の仲間、小平さんの作品です。彼のブログはこちら; 下の写真は私のです。)

Yesterday was our local shrine, Habeshina Jinja's annual fall festival.

As soon as I got done with flipping futons and checking out the guests, I changed out of my samue work garb and put on my festival clothes. Then I ran and joined the Okagura lion dance troupe just in time for the opening dance. From there we went in a procession to the shrine for another dance, and then went around the neighborhood and the onsen town stopping at the houses of various elders as well as several of the ryokans for yet more dances. Then at night, we made it back up to the shrine for one last dance, a grand finale highlighted by firecrackers.

It was a long day, but a day I look forward to every fall.

(The above picture is from my fellow-innkeeper Kodaira-san. His blog is here. The pictures below are by me.)



Festival Procession


Morning Dance at the Shrine


Dance at one of the elders' house...


... with flutists in the garden


Run-in with the Wrestlers


Afternoon Dance at the Onsen


Dance at Kamesei


廊下の生け花 a la アンディー Hallway Ikebana a la Andy

September 26, 2010: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan

Andy's Ikebana Creation

アーティスティックな従妹のMidoriさんが長男のアンディー君を連れて、川へ出かけました。何をするかなと思いました。戻ってきたら、ススキとか沢山の草や植物を持って来ていた。亀清旅館の客室やお風呂へ行く廊下にこんな綺麗な生け花を作ってくれました。Midoriさんの1-ポイントレッスンでアンディー君が優雅な、そして旬の雰囲気を出す生け花を。お花の力がすごいですね。

Midori, our artistic cousin, took our son Andy for a drive down to the river. I wondered what was in store. When they came back, they brought a bunch of pampas grass and other plant and grass clippings. Midori proceeded to give Andy an Ikebana lesson. I wish I could have watched -- I would love to learn how. Anyways, this is their elegant creation. Doesn't it give a wonderful sense of seasonality?




Ikebana Andy


(私に)隠れていた宝物:陶芸工房「陶」 A hidden (from me) treasure: Pottery Shop 'Sueh'

September 25, 2010: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

'Discovering' our local pottery shop

2年前に吉野明子さんと言う陶芸家が戸倉駅前の元酒倉「酒造コレクション」にて独立したお店を開きました。工房「陶(すえ)」です。正直って、今までは私が吉野さんとあまり交流がなかったけれど、この間に戸倉上山田温泉の英語の散歩地図・グルメガイドを作った時に「ぜひ、参加させてください」と言う強い要望がありました。

載せて良かった!

プチ滞在しているスイス人がマップに「陶芸体験」を見つけて、直ぐ予約を入れました。焼くのに一か月間がかかるからその後の郵送はどうなるかとか、言葉の問題とか、色々と心配していましたから念のために私が彼女を載せて行きました。そしたら、吉野さんが前もって郵送方法や金額を調べてくれていたし、吉野さんは意外に英語がかとこと喋れた。(専門語は私より詳しかった!)

そして、スイス人のお姉さんが宿に戻ってきた時、その笑顔!大喜びだったらしい。「陶芸をやってみたいという夢はずっとあって、ここでやっと実現できて、嬉しい!」と騒いでいました。

彼女の喜びを持て、今度は私も行きたくなりました!

工房「陶」
駅前の戸倉宿
酒造コレクションの明治蔵内
Tel: 090-9843-0714  吉野さん
(要予約)

2 years ago, pottery artist Akiko Yoshino opened up her own shop in Togura. "Sueh" is located in a Meiji-era warehouse in the Shuzo Collection former sake brewery across from Togura Station.

To be honest, I haven't had the opportunity to familiarize myself with Yoshino-san's work or her shop. She has been offering pottery lessons and in the past I've dropped off a few of our Japanese guests have gone at her studio to do the lessons. But I wasn't sure how to approach the situation for guests from overseas. There's the issue of how to send the pottery after the month-long baking process, and of course the language barrier. So it was with some misgiving that I accepted her ad in the Togura Kamiyamada Onsen walking map that I made this year.

It turns out I needn't have worried.

Yesterday a guest from Switzerland saw her ad in the map and we made an appointment for her to go to the studio. Yoshino-san had looked up the costs for shipping, and it turns out she speaks enough English to convey how to work the potter's wheel. And judging by our guest's wide grin on her face when she came back to our inn, I'd say the lesson was a huge success.

If you, too, want to take a pottery lesson by Yoshino-san, feel free to contact us to make a reservation for you.

Pottery Studio "Sueh"
Located inside Shuzo Collection by Togura Station
Tel: 090-9843-0714 Yoshino-san
(Reservations Required)





目ざましテレビに戸隠と戸倉上山田 Togakushi and Togura Kamiyamada on Fuji TV

September 24, 2010: メディア Media

Showing Midori-san the grapes from Tobita-san's orchard

フジテレビ「めざましテレビ土曜日」の松尾みどりアナウンサーとのプロデューサなどの皆様が戸倉上山田温泉に来ました。旅行情報コーナーに戸隠と我が温泉を9月25日の番組で紹介する予定です。戸隠はおフランスのSylvieさん、戸倉上山田温泉は私がガイドする。外国人の目から見た日本の魅力との特集。機会があれば、是非ご覧になってください。朝7:40頃OAだそうです。

Midori Matsuo-san, announcer from Fuji TV's 'Mezamashi TV Saturday' show, and the production crew came to shoot some footage here at Togura Kamiyamada Onsen. It's for a travel corner for the show this Saturday, 25-September and will feature current power spot "boom" in Togakushi as well as our onsen. Sylvie from France will be the guide for Togakushi, and I the one for Togura Kamiyamada, showing Japan's attractiveness through the eyes of foreigners. The show will be aired around 7:40am, so catch it if you can.

Fuji TV めざましテレビのHPはこちら





Chef武井の今のメニュー Chef Takei's current menu "magic"

September 23, 2010: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan

Our Chef's current line up

ちょっと見直しました。

亀清旅館のChef武井のお料理を。

もともと評判が良かったので、特に今の時期にメニューはヒット商品は何品があります。でも、昨日、テレビの撮影でアナウンサーが食べた時に、あまりにも褒めてくれて、見直しました。

もちろん、テレビだから何でも大げさにする癖があるけど、アナウンサーがただ「美味しい!」だけじゃなくて、「レタスがしゃきしゃきしていて、お肉がジューシーでサクサクしていて、梅ソースの酸味でレタスの甘みが目立って、このコラボレーションは初めてだ!」とか、上手にお鍋を表現して、感心しました。今度カメラがオッフの時に茶わん蒸し(別名:「びっくり茶碗」)を食べた時に、また大喜び。テレビの為だけじゃない事、良く分かりました。こんな食べ歩いているプロがChef武井のお料理をこんなに褒めてくれて、その作品の良さがさらに分かりました。

Chef武井の今のメニューの品書きは下記です。

I have to reconsider Kamesei's chef's cuisine.

Chef Takei's dinners have been getting favorable guest reviews, and especially lately a couple of the dishes have been big hits. But last night, for a TV shoot, the announcer was praising each dish like there was no tomorrow. Rather than just the obligatory "Umm, Delicious!", she would exclaim after eating the 'nabe' hot pot, "Oh, the lettuce is so nice and crispy, and the pork so juicy, and the sourness of the plum sauce brings out the sweetness of the lettuce -- This is the first time I've eaten this colloboration of ingredients!" Even off-camera, you should have seen her delight in eating the chawanmushi steamed egg custard dish. So she wasn't just hamming for the camera. When someone this well-travelled (and well-eating) praises our chef's menu this much, I have to give Chef Takei more credit! His current menu line-up is as below.

9月の品書き September Menu

旬の物 焼き秋茄子 Grilled Autumn Eggplant
酢の物 佐久鯉南蛮漬け Saku Carp Spicy Nanban Seasoned
サラダ 信州サーモン Shinshu Salmon Salad
蒸し物 びっくり茶碗 Surprise Chawan egg custard
つくり かじき、甘海老、タコ Kajiki tuna, shrimp, octopus
焼き物 鮎塩焼き Salt-rubbed Grilled Ayu
台の物 ポークと高原野菜(菅平レタス)と梅ソースPork and highland lettuce with plum sauce
別皿  味噌漬け豆腐、白醤油焼きと(気持ちで)松竹のホイル焼き Miso-seasoned tofu, eel grilled in white soy sauce and a touch of matsutake mushrooms baked in foil
揚げ物 まぁーずうまい唐揚げ Mahz Yummy Karaage Pork with Miso-based Sauce
お椀  蜆汁 Miso Soup with fresh water clams
香の物 野沢菜 Nozawana and other pickled vegetables
水皿  採れたてぶどう三色 3 Varieties of fresh grapes





稲狩りを見るとホッとする… Peaceful scenes of the rice harvest

September 22, 2010: 季節 Seasons

Relaxing patterns of rice fields

戸倉上山田の周辺の田んぼは稲狩りが始まっています。田んぼを高い所から見れば、金色の波になっている収穫前の田んぼと茶色土が残っている狩った後の田んぼと干してある稲の列、色と模様のモザイクになります。

私の大好きな風景です。ずっと見たくなっちゃう。農家さん達の稲刈りの作業のリズムを見て、なんとなく落ち着きます。(そう言っちゃうと、「何もしないで見るだけなら、手伝って一緒に作業しろ!」と言われっちゃうのかな?)

The rice fields in and around Togura Kamiyamada are starting to get harvested now. The farmers are trying to strike the right balance between letting the fields dry out enough to work them with waiting for the rice plants to mature. With rain scheduled for tomorrow, I noticed more farmers out in the fields today cutting down the plants and stringing them up to dry.

I love the look of the rice fields in this mix of golden waves of ripening rice plants contrasting with the brown dirt of the harvested fields, punctuated by rows of rice fronds set out to dry. I could watch this scenery all day; it's especially with the relaxing slow, steady pace of the farmers working to harvest the crop. Of course, they'd probably get angry at me for just watching and not helping with the work.





信州にモロッコのレストラン A Bit of Morocco in Nagano

September 21, 2010: グルメFoodie

Cafe de Marok's inviting entrance

亀清の若女将が「連れて行きたいレストランがある」と嬉しく言っていました。今日はせっかく休館だったから二人で軽井沢へドライブ。手前の御代田町に、浅間サンライン道路からちょっと入っていて、キャベツ畑の前に可愛いおうちの一軒があります:カフェ・ドゥ・モロッコ 。オーナーの梅川さんが若い女性。モロッコのお料理やスタイルがすごく好きみたい。信州への旅でこのアフリカ風の宝物に寄ったら如何ですか?

Kamesei's young proprietress had been telling me about a restaurant she'd been wanting to take me to. Today was an off-day for our inn, so we hopped in the car and went for a drive to Karuizawa. Just before that resort town in the quiet town of Miyota, a bit off the main Asama Sun Line highway, and literally right next to a cabbage patch, is a cute white house, the setting for Cafe de Marok. The owner/chef is a young lady named Umekawa-san. She studied cooking in Europe, and apparently developed a liking for Morroccan cuisine and style. The interior decorations express North African while the background is classic Japanese architecture with some impressive exposed wood beams. I've never been to Africa, but my sister-in-law has some Tunisian roots and has introduced us to some of the cuisine. As far as I could tell, Umekawa-san has done a fine job of authentically preparing the dishes.

So if you have a hankering for some North African cuisine and ambience, make a trip to Miyota Town and Cafe de Marok.

最新情報:
2011年12月にて閉店。オーナーはお嫁に行ってしまったそうです。

UPDATE:
Closed as of December, 2011. The owner got married and left.



Cafe de Marok's exotic interior


Kamesei's proprietress enjoying Cafe de Marok


戸倉上山田温泉⇔新宿 往復3800円?! Shinjuku to Togura-Kamiyamada for 3800 yen rt?!

September 20, 2010: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

Harvest Highway Bus to Kamiyamada

高速バス会社「ハーヴェスト」が10月1日から新宿から戸倉上山田温泉まで片道1900円の高速バスを始まる予定です。東京・上山田間は往復で3800円となる!一日一本です。「温泉へ行きたいけど、交通費は高くて」と思った東京の皆さん、この機会で是非、戸倉上山田へおいでになってください。

不景気の中で、または海外からのお客様に円高の中で、交通の為の予算が厳しくなってきています。ハーヴェスト社のこの手頃の値段で温泉への旅が日曜的な生活に少し近付いたのではないかと思います。

★下り★
新宿駅西口センタービル前:   10:00発
戸倉上山田温泉 カラコロ足湯前 13:25頃着

★上り★
戸倉上山田温泉 カラコロ足湯前 13:35頃発
新宿西口センタービル前:    18:50頃着

平日料金: 片道1900円
週末料金: 片道2400円

期間: 10月1日から11月30日まで  注:12月は出発所が東京駅に変更の予定。

問い合わせ: Tel03-3266-5959
ハーヴェスト社のHPはこちら

Highway bus company "Harvest" will start a new Shinjuku to Togura Kamiyamada service commencing on Friday 01-October. The round-trip price is as low as 3,800 yen.

If you've been wanting to take a relaxing trip to an onsen but the cost of getting there has been too much, now is your chance! The poor economy and worsening exchange rates has put a crunch on peoples' travel budgets. With a round trip price of only 3,800 yen, making a trip to Kamiyamada Onsen has just become a lot more affordable. Take advantage of this opportunity to leave Tokyo's hustle and bustle (not to mention concrete) and come out to Japan's countryside for a rejuvinating stay at an onsen ryokan.

Harvest Tour highway bus, Shinjuku - Kamiyamada run

Outbound
Departs Shinjuku West Exit 10:00am
Arrives Kamiyamada in front of the footbath 1:25pm

Inbound
Departs Kamiyamada in front of the footbath 1:35pm
Arrives Shinjuku West Exit 6:50pm

One-Way Price: 1,900 yen weekdays, 2,400 yen weekends

Term: October 1st to November 30th, 2010. Scheduled to change from Shinjuku to Tokyo Station for December.

Reservations: Tel 03-3266-5959
Or try Harvest's website, here.





亀清の中井さんがぶどう狩り? Kamesei's Room Attendant Picking Grapes?

September 19, 2010: 季節 Seasons

Shimizu-san will be glad to tell you where to go grape picking

戸倉上山田温泉から車で4,5分でぶどう畑があります。9月はぶどう狩りの時期なので、亀清旅館でその採れたてぶどうをデザートとしてお客様に出しております。私は何度も買付しに行った事があるし、うちの子供達やお客さんも連れたりするけど、今回は初めて亀清の中井さんと一緒に行きました。若手の清水で、本人からお客様に周辺の面白い所の案内が出来る様にまずは本人が体験する必要がある。と言う訳で、清水がぶどう狩りをしている写真です。

ぶどう狩りは農家によって、来週で終わるところもあり、10月の頭まで続く所もあります。温泉+ぶどう狩りはどうですか?

Our onsen town, Togura Kamiyamada is fortunate to have U-Pick grape orchards just a short 4-5 minutes away. Here at Kamesei Ryokan, we serve our guests fresh-picked local grapes as dessert with their dinners during the month of September which is grape season around here. I go to the orchards on a regular basis to buy grapes directly from the growers. And every once in a while I take our kids and even sometimes our guests. This time, I took Ms. Shimizu, one of our room attendants here at Kamesei. It is important for her to be able to give local sightseeing and activities advice to our guests, and the best way for her to be able to do that is to see and do herself. That's why she is picking grapes in this orchard.

Depending on the grower, the season will run until early October. Some are already starting to finish up, though, so if you want to enjoy an onsen + grape picking holiday, you'll have to hurry!

中島農園の詳しくはこちら Click here for details on Nakajima Orchard

クラウン農園の詳しくはこちらClick here for more on Crown Farm