雨の日に子供とお出かけ:浅間山火山館 Rainy Day with Kids: Asama Museum

July 11, 2010: 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano

Do you dare enter the Volcano Museum?

せっかくの休みの日で家族で出かけようとしたら…雨!
まあ、雨に負けないで、今日は浅間火山博物館に行きました。外が雨でも、博物館の中で火山の色々と見れます。数年前に一度行きました。その時に、博物館の入口の火山の中に入っていくような雰囲気で、息子たちが怖くて怖くて。今回は興味津々でスムーズに入りました。成長したな!今度は美咲ちゃんが「抱っこ!」と言い出した。やはり、まだ三歳だから怖がっていた。
浅間火山博物館は不思議な存在です。火山についての展示はそれなり面白いし、鬼押し出しとかに行けば、火山の事は詳しく知りたくなるので、この博物館に来れば色々説明してくれる。それは良いのですが、不思議なのは、博物館の施設です。まず、本館の上隣に展望台付きの面白そうな、幽霊が出てきそうな、映画に出てきそうな不気味な建物があります。聞いたら、元の博物館だったと;この新しい博物館ができたら、古いのはクローズになっちゃったそうです。そして、現在の本館に入れば、広~い食堂があって、そして広~いお土産売店があって、奥の方に博物館の入口がありました。博物館実態は本館の半分以下です。目的はなんだろうかと思っちゃう。駐車場を見れば、分かる:入口の近くは大型バス専用。時代が変わって団体客より個人客、我々みたいな子供連れの家族とかが増えています。その中でこういう博物館も個人客の感動作りはもうちょっと頑張ってもらいたいな…

It was our family's day off to go for a drive somewhere. Except, nobody told the weatherman. Hmm, what to do on a rainy day with the kids? We decided to still go for a drive, and checked out the Asama Volcano Museum. When we went a few years ago, the boys were so scared by the museum's lava tunnel-like entrance, that they were shaking. This time around, they really got into the special effects. It was their little sister Misaki's turn to ask to be held -- at least she was scared.
The Asama Volcano Museum is an interesting place. The museum itself does a good job of showing the inner workings of volcanoes. So if you go to the nearby Onioshidashi lava fields and your interest in volcanoes is piqued, the museum's explanation is pretty valuable. But the museum's facilities themselves are, well, weird. Above the main building is an old, dilapidated, ghost-like building with a bizarre viewing room on top. It looks like something out of a horror movie. When we asked about it, we were told it's the original museum building, and when the present one was built, the old one was closed down. So it's left to deteriorate instead of being torn down? Anyways, then there's the present museum building. You go in, and first there's a huge cafeteria, then a huge souvenir shop area, before you finally reach the entrance to the museum itself. It makes you wonder what the real purpose is. Actually, that was already given away by the parking lot. The parking spots nearest the entrance were reserved for tour busses. Ah hah! They're still waiting for the busloads of guests to come. Well, nowadays, it's individual families and couples travelling, not large groups. Museums like this have to evolve with the times!

浅間火山博物館のHPはこちら(割引券もあり!)Click here for the Asama Museum website (with discount coupon, too!)







旅館の経営:どんな客層か Running an Inn: What type of clientele?

July 10, 2010: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi

私は亀清旅館のただの布団引き屋じゃなくて、経営者に切り替える中で、色々と広く考えなければなりません。若女将と今、盛り上がっている経営の話題はどんな客層をターゲットするかと。コンパニオンを呼ぶ酔っ払いのおじさん団体?カップルさん?大人の親子?同級会?合宿?ペット連れ?子供連れ?富裕層?外国人?
そして、亀清旅館にどんな客層が合うか整理したら、各客層のニーズを把握しなければならない。どういうプランが喜ばれるか?どういう得点は魅力があるか?
これからは良い良いプランを準備しますので宜しくお願いします。

As I evolve from Kamesei Ryokan's futon flipper to it's owner, I'm learning to look at a lot of things from a wider angle. Mari, my wife, and I are currently putting a lot of discussion into what kind of guests are the best match for our inn. Banquets with heavy drinking guys that call in the "companion" ladies? Young couples? Older people travelling with their parents? Class reunions? School sports teams? Guests with pets? Guests with children? The wealthy? Travellers from overseas?
And once we get a feel for what type of clientele is best, then wew have to figure out what each individual type of clientele would value the most. What plan(s) would be most attractive to them?
We are formulating some new plans now to hopefully better meet the needs of the type of guests who would most appreciate our inn. Stay tuned!




Annabelle Magic アンナベルの魅力

July 9, 2010: 季節 Seasons

Annabelle blossoms in one of the tsubo niwa pocket gardens

亀清旅館の庭師、岡田さんの作った坪庭はどちらかというと、アートです。それぞれの時期に違う魅力さな顔をしてくれるので、お客さんが既に楽しんで頂いております。

今は白い花が目立つアンナベルというアジサイが綺麗に咲いています。我が宿の庭はまだまだ直さなければならないところが沢山ありますが、100年風呂の庭を始め、この坪庭と去年作ってくれた2つの客室の庭という良いスタートができています。

これからも楽しみです。





メードイン戸倉上山田温泉のお土産 "Made in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen" Souvenirs

July 8, 2010: その他 Miscellaneous

Local Specialties of Togura Kamiyamada Onsen

(また千曲市自慢のシリーズです。)

千曲市は認定した80品の「千曲ブランド」を最近に宣伝していますが、千曲市の中のこの戸倉上山田温泉で以前から個々の独特な生産者はここに特化した商品をずっと作り続いています。良いお土産にもなりますのでここで紹介します:

笹鈴の六文銭まんじゅ
どの温泉地でも饅頭があるけど、地元の真田家の六文銭のマークのまんじゅは戸倉上山田温泉の笹鈴さんだけ。毎日焼いていて美味しいです。自分で六文銭を焼き付ける体験も可能です。銀座通り。Tel(026)275-1228。

島屋の鮎の甘露煮
長野県は海がないので、川魚が重要です。島屋さんは千曲川の代表の鮎およびワカサギとハヤの甘露煮を作っています。随時に作っていますので運が良ければ、出来立てのを試食ができます。実際に作っているところが見れます。真空パックで売っていますのでここだけのお土産になります。銀座通り。Tel(026)275-1175。

中島の「誉」ブランドの信州味噌
信州は日本の主の大豆の生産のお蔭、信州味噌が昔から注目されています。戸倉上山田温泉の味噌屋さんは中島です。お店に昔の道具が展示してあるし、味噌や地元の特徴の醤油豆の味見もできます。銀座通。Tel(026)275-1069。

佐良志奈焼きのたからや
地元のリンゴの木の灰で特徴な色が出された:佐良志奈焼きのたからやの陶芸です。お洒落な店内で美しい青い色の陶芸。上田獅子の木彫りや地元の森獏郎さんの版画など、他の民芸品も展示してあります。銀座通りの西入口。Tel(026)275-0778。午前8時から午後7時まで。

旅行の時にお土産を買うと、やはり思い出になるその当地の商品がいいですよね。戸倉上山田はこれだけ地元の商品がそろっているのは自慢だと思います。

Chikuma City recently announced a list of 80 local products designated as "Chikuma Brand". Here in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, we are fortunate to have 4 shops that have been making made-in-Togura-Kamiyamada products for decades. So guests that come and stay at our onsen can enjoy shopping for locally-made items. Here are the 4:

Sasasuzu Manju with the Rokumonsen Mark
You can find manju pastries with the purple adzuki bean paste inside at pretty much any onsen, but you can only find manju with the Rokumonsen mark of the local Sanada samurai family here at Sasasuzu. You can also try your hand at branding the manju yourself with a hot branding iron. Baked freshly every day, so they are extra delicious. On Ginza Dori. Tel(026)275-1228.

Shimaya Kanroni Marinated River Fish
Nagano Prefecture doesn't have an ocean, so river fish are an important part of the local cuisine. Shimaya takes ayu, the main fish from the Chikuma River, as well as wakasagi and haya, to other local types of river fish, and marinates them in a sweet sauce "kanroni" style. You can see how the kanroni process works in their shop, as well as try a sample of some of their creations. They are constantly making new batches, so if you're lucky you can try some just made kanroni, too. The kanroni is available for sale in take-home vacuum packs. On Ginza Dori. Tel(026)275-1175.

Nakajima Miso's "Homare" Label Shinshu Miso.
Shinshu, the classic name for Nagano, is one of Japan's major producers of soybeans. So the prefecture has naturally become known for the quality of its miso paste, Shinshu Miso. Here in Togura Kamiyamada, we have our own maker of Shinshu Miso, Nakajima Miso. In their showroom and shop at the front of their factory, you can sample the different types of miso they make, as well as see some of the antique tools they have on display. Be sure to try the shoyu mame, a local variety of processed soybeans. On Ginza Dori. Tel(026)275-1069.

Sarashina-Yaki Pottery at Takaraya
Our local pottery style, sarashina-yaki, has a distinct blue color resulting from the ash of applewood from the local orchards. Takaraya is a small, chic store displaying lots of the beautiful sarashina-yaki pottery as well as Ueda Shishi lion wood carvings and wood block prints by local artist Mori Bakuro. At the western entrance of Ginza Dori. Tel(026)275-0778. Hours from 8am to 7pm.

When on a trip to a new place, its always nice to buy a souvenir made there in where you are travelling to. We are fortunate to have four shops making local specialties here in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen.







千曲市の自慢:戸倉上山田温泉の能舞台 Pride of Chikuma: the Noh Stage at Togura Kamiyamada Onsen

July 7, 2010: その他 Miscellaneous

Togura Kamiyamada's Noh Stage

注:テレビ局NBSの「千曲市自慢」の連携記事です。
Note: This entry is in conjunction with local TV Station NBS's Pride of Chikuma City blog.
(http://www.i-nagano.com/ipc/ch02/17/single.php)

戸倉上山田温泉の中心の公園「水と緑と潤いのある公園」はこのにぎやかな温泉街の中の静かなスポットです。鯉が池に泳いでいて、池の真ん中の島に水天宮があり、でかい木の間を歩きながら池を一周したり、東間で休憩したり、湯飲み処で上山田温泉のお湯を飲んでみたり、そして新しくできた足湯も楽しめる。この公園の一番目立つところは芝生の前に立っている能舞台です。立派な木造の建物です。ハロウィーンとかのイベントの時によく使われています。そして、この夏は新しく毎週日曜日(夜7時半ごろ)は美女連の日本舞踊の練習、毎週水曜日(夜8時から)は私が入っている上山田神楽保存会の練習が開催されます。10月ごろまでは週二回に日本の文化が水と緑と潤いのある公園の能舞台で戸倉上山田の温泉街を盛り上がります。今までは美女連の踊りの練習と我々お神楽の獅子舞の練習がどこかの公民館とかで行っていましたが、町をさらににぎやかにするために能舞台でやる事にしました。ぜひ、見に来てください。練習ですから気楽で見て頂いて、皆と触れ合っていただけます。

In the center of Togura Kamiyamada Onsen is a small little park with a really long name: "Mizu to Midori to Uruoi Koen" which roughly means "Water and Nature and Moisture Park". In the middle is a cute koi pond with a stone bridge to the island with its shrine to the water god. You can weave in and out of the tall trees as you walk around the pond, then take a rest at the wooden gazebo. And since this park isn't in any old town, it's in Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada, there is a spot to drink the onsen water (the minerals are good for your health!) as well as the new Kara-Koro Footbath, to soak your feet in the soothing onsen. The biggest feature of the park is across from the grassy lawn -- the impressively huge, wooden Noh theater. It gets used for events throughout the year, such as the Halloween Party. And now, this summer it will see some action twice a week. The Bijoren group will practice their traditional Japanese dancing every Sunday night around 7:30pm, and the Kamiyamada Kagura Preservation Group will do their lion dance practice every Wednesday at 8pm. These are both low-key practices, not full performances, so you can interact up close and personally with the members. Both groups typically held their practices in area community centers, but this summer and through October, they will be helping to liven up the onsen town by bringing their traditional arts to the Noh Stage. Come and check it out!



The Bijoren Dancers


Wednesday Night Lion Dance Practice


焼き鳥屋魅力:良い出会い Yakitori Magic: Encounters

July 6, 2010: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi

Yumi's Yakitori: Famous Encounters

神戸で留学したころからの友人が来てくれて、夜は焼き鳥の裕味に連れて行きました。お客さんに良く紹介しますが、自分が飲みに行くのは久しぶりでした。そうすると、既に入っていたお客さんに「あっ、有名なタイラーさんだ!」と言ってくれました。「私はギターを作っている・・・」と言い始まったら、「あっ、もしかしたら、姨捨の方でギターを作っているNHKに出た有名な方ですか?」と私が言い返しました。誰が有名かのバットルの様に、話が盛り上がりました。やはり、偶に外で飲みに行く価値がありますと分かりました。クラシックギターの製作者の上水清さんみたいな方と出会えできる。近所の焼き鳥屋はただのお疲れのビールと美味しい焼き鳥だけではなく、人との出会えの場面という役割もある。なるほど!

A buddy of mine from my exchange student days in Kobe came to Kamiyamada. I took him over to Yumi's for some yakitori (chicken shishkebabs). I often take our guests over for the food and beer and Yumi-san's entertainment. So it was a rare event for me to belly up to the counter and order a tall, frothy one. One of our counter-mates looked at me and said, "Hey, it's that famous Tyler fellow!" He explained that he makes classic guitars. "Oh, over in Obasute? You're the guy that was featured on NHK. I've heard all about you!" So Kiyoshi Agemizu and I had a discussion on who was more famous. Needless to say, we hit it off right away.
It made me realize that neighborhood yakitori joints are more than just frothy beers and good grub -- it's encounters like this that make them special.

上水清さんのHPはこちらClick here for Agemizu-san's website.





インバウンドの波: 坂城vs.須坂 Ups and Downs of "Inbound": Sakaki vs. Suzaka

July 5, 2010: 活動 Activities

Photographer Whitney capturing Robert's knife making

インバウンドの活動は波があります。昨日は坂城町の刀資料館「鉄の展示館」でひどい目に合ったが、今日は須坂の田中本家の関係でものすごく前向きな動きがありました。坂城は以前に書いたNISで長野県のユニークの体験を海外の旅行者に紹介する動きの中で、鉄の展示館の「刀匠の指導でのナイフ作り体験」のモニターツアーを実施する予定でした。前もって館長と打ち合わせしたし、当日は体験する人に時間を取ってもらって、カメラマンも手配したのに、行ったら「定員になった」と断れちゃった。我々は県内から集まったからまだ良かったけど、もし海外から態々来て、そんな様に断れちゃったら、困ります。これからは良~く話し合わないと駄目。
そして、今日は須坂の田中本家の田中館長がこれからのインバウンドの取り組みについて亀清まで相談しに来ました。話してみたら、田中本家はNISのユニーク長野の体験プロジェクトに協力してくれるそうです。300年前のレシピーの本が出たので、田中さんがその料理を再現したので、そのお料理は長野県のユニークな体験として外国人旅行者を長野に呼びたいと思っています。そのモニターツアーを計画しているので後日またここで紹介したいと思います。
長野のインバウンド活動:一歩下げ、一歩進んで。

There are ups and downs in efforts to promote Nagano for "Inbound" (guests coming from overseas). Yesterday was a downer at Sakaki's Katana Museum, but today was a huge upper with the curator of Suzaka's Tanaka Honke Museum paying a visit.
As previously mentioned, the Nagano Inbound Summit members are working on compiling a list of Nagano's unique experiences to promote then abroad. #2 on our list was the katana museum in Sakaki. We met with the director beforehand and (seemingly) secured his cooperation, then had several people take time out from their busy schedules to attend the knife making seminar yesterday. We even had a photographer come. However, when we arrived, we were being sent away because they had already reached the limit for participants. If the monitor tour for locals won't work, there's no way the museum can be reliable for promoting to people coming from overseas!
On the other hand, Tanaka-san, the curator for Suzaka's Tanaka Honke museum, drove to meet me here at Kamesei to discuss ways their museum can better promote itself to foreigners. He agreed to cooperate with our Unique Nagano project, and we are working out a schedule to hold a monitor tour there for their bento lunch featuring a recreated 300-year old menu.
Inbound in Nagano: One step back, one step forward!

Robert's comments about the knife making deal at http://www.go-nagano.net/blog/?p=2999



Katana Apprentice helping out


足湯係:千曲ブランド祭り@姨捨SA Foot Bath Guy: Chikuma Brand Fest At Obasute SA

July 4, 2010: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

足湯はいかがですか?

千曲市は食品80個を認定して、「千曲ブランド」を立ち上がました。今日はそのPRで、高速道路の姨捨SAで千曲ブランド祭りを開きました。千曲市に戸倉上山田温泉がせっかくあるから、上山田温泉株式会社からお湯を提供してもらって、足湯を設置しました。そして、私が市役所に声をかけられて、足湯係りでボランティアーしました。足湯に入りながら、SAに出入りしている皆様に「足湯はどうですか?上山田温泉のお湯を運んできました。気持ち良いですよ!」と。
やってみたら分かりましたが、SAの利用者はトイレや自販機、食堂でちょっと寄って、直ぐ行く人がほとんどです。SAに寄って、足湯にゆっくり入るような雰囲気じゃないですよね。余裕のある方は姨捨SAのビューポイントから善光寺平の眺めを見たりします。私だったら、足湯をそこで設置しました。景色を見ながら、上山田温泉のお湯を楽しめたら最高じゃないですか?

The City of Chikuma designated 80 locally made products as "Chikuma Brand". To promote the brand, the city worked with the highways board and held a Chikuma Brand Fair at the Obasute Service Area rest stop today. Since Chikuma City also has Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, it set up a foot bath featuring onsen water supplied by the Kamiyamada Onsen Company. City Hall asked me to attend the footbath during the festival. So I took our kids up for the morning and soaked my feet, calling out to passers-by to come and enjoy the footbath.
That experience made me realize that your average rest stop user is more interested in the toilets, vending machines or cafeteria, and doesn't have time to dilly dally in a footbath. People with a bit of extra time tend to go over to the viewpoint that overlooks the Zenkoji Plain. If it were up to me, I would have set up the footbath at the viewpoint, so people could soak their feet as they enjoyed the scenery. Alas, it's not up to me, it's up to the guys from City Hall who are more interested in getting the "Chikuma Brand" in front of more people, regardless of whether or not those people have the time or interest.



The kids enjoying the footbath


この景色は足湯を楽しみながら見た方は?


メディアアップ:今度は読売新聞 Media Up: This time Yomiuri Newspaper

July 3, 2010: メディア Media

昨日の読売新聞の長野版に私が入っているNInJAプロジェクトについての記事が載ると聞いていました。新聞を開いてみたら、清泉大の学生の練習で聞き取り調査されているところがイメージ写真として使われました。まさか私の顔がまた映ると思いませんでした。嬉しいような、せっかく忍者の演奏があったのでそちらの方が絵になるのに… まあ、このインバウンドの活動のPRにさえなればいいと思っています。インバウンドの認識度アップ!

One of the members of our NInJA Project group advised that the Nagano edition of the Yomiuri Newspaper would have an article about our group's activities. So it was with a bit of excitement that I opened up the paper to find ... a picture of me getting practice-interviewed by two Seisen college students. Not that I mind the personal publicity, but we purposely had a couple of ninjas do a performance for the camera. Oh well, I don't have a problem with lending my face to the "inbound" cause.


In the Newspaper again


家族でつけばへ Family night out to Tsukeba

July 2, 2010: グルメFoodie

Senmasu Fish Shack

戸倉上山田温泉の真ん中に千曲川が慣れて、川沿いに3つのつけばもあります。亀清旅館の若女将はつけばの体験がなかったので、昨夜は家族で行きました。自分と子供たちは以前に体験したことがあったが、ママは気に入ってくれるかな?
今回行った場所は季節料理「川萬寿」(せんます)でした。つけばの建物の全部は基本的に仮設です。河川敷に固定した建物はだめだから。ですから、「つけば」はどうしても女性が喜び沿うようなきれいなお洒落な施設が少ないです。その中で、川萬寿さんはアットホームな落ち着いた雰囲気で、良かったです。大げさな川ソファに座って、隣の千曲川の流れを眺めて、川辺で遊んでいたキツネを見たり、とっても良い雰囲気でした。
そして、つけばの主の目的:川魚のお料理。鮎はもちろん塩焼きそして天ぷら、唐揚げ、魚田、などなど。最後に出た鮎入りの味噌汁が最高でした。川魚が苦手な方には恐らく地獄だろうけど、好きな人にはそうやって川沿いで川魚の色々なお料理を食べるのは最高!
つけ場を体験したい方には亀清旅館の朝食付きの半泊まりプランがおすすめです。つけばまで歩いて10分なので、夕食はつけばで、また宿に戻ってゆっくり温泉に入ったりしていただけます。
Togura Kamiyamada Onsen has the Chikuma River running down the middle of it. Along the banks here in town are 3 "Tsukeba" river fish restaurants. They're more like fish shacks, as by law they have to be built using temporary construction. No permanent buildings are allowed to be erected along the banks. So, by definition, the fish shacks don't tend to be the elegant type of place that ladies would appreciate.
So when my lady, Mari, mentioned she had never done "Tsukeba", it was with a bit of apprehension that I took her and the kids last night to Senmasu. With its patched up leather couch and eclectic decor, the ambience was a bit tacky. But being able to look out at the Chikuma River flowing by and seeing a fox play in the rocky beach made for an enchanting scene. Plus, the cuisine was delectable. Ayu sweetfish prepared in so many ways: rubbed with salt and grilled, tempura, sashimi (!), etc. The fish head miso soup at the end was outstanding!
For people who don't appreciate river fish, this cuisine is probably hellish, but for those that do, eating river fish on the banks of the river is like heaven!
If you would like to combine tsukeba with a stay at Kamesei Ryokan, we have accommodation only plans so you can walk the 10 minutes to one of the fish shacks to enjoy a tsukeba dinner and return to relax at our inn and soak in the onsen baths.

川萬寿は夏の間営業が続いています。お昼は11:00-15:00、夜は17;00-20:00(予約がおすすめ)
Senmasu's hours are from 11am to 3pm and from 5pm to 8pm (reservations recommended).
Tel(026)275-0019



Family Tsukeba Dinner