ハニームーンの姨捨思い出 Honeymoon Memories from Obasute

July 8, 2009: その他 Miscellaneous

イタリアからのお2人です。ラブ・ラブに見えるでしょう。当たり前です。TatianaさんとRobertoさんはハニームーンで日本に来ました。(新婚旅行で態々戸倉上山田に来て・・・嬉しいね。)

この写真の場所は姨捨の長楽寺です。去年に改造された茅葺屋根です。とってもいい雰囲気です。夜はお2人を「姨捨夜景・伝説ツアー」にも連れて行きました。私はお客さんに姨捨駅のホームにアル俳句投函箱をいつも案内しますが、実際に書いてくれる人が少ないです。でも、このTatianaさんはいきなり、「ペンを貸して」って。尚且つ、イタリア語で書きました。聞いたら、「光る月、夜景きらきら、指輪ぴか」の様な詩だそうです。ロマンチックですね。

Don't these two look like they're in love? Of course they do -- Tatiana and Robert are on their honeymoon. They came from Italy to Japan for their vacation after their wedding.

The building in the background is Choraku-Ji Temple in Obasute. The thatched roof was just re-done last year. It makes for a romantic backdrop.

That night, I took the two on the Obasute Night View / Legends tour. I always show the guests the "haiku post", but hardly anyone every writes a poem. Tonight, though, Tatiana asked for a pen, and wrote a haiku -- in Italian! It was something like "The moonlight glowing, lights of the town glittering, and my ring shining." Ahh, how romantic!





300年の歴史と伝統を自分の手で体験:上田紬 300 Years of History and Tradition, at YOUR Fingertips: Ueda Tsumugi

July 7, 2009: 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano

始めて長野に来た時に、信州の歴史と伝統で感心しました。最初は上田市に住んでいましたので上田城、上田獅子、昔からのそば屋さん(「刀屋」は300年の歴史がある・・・自分の国より歴史が長い!)、国分寺の八日堂祭り、等々。
その1つは上田紬。個人的に上田紬の模様が大好きで触り感覚も好きです。物凄く憧れています。
今は亀清旅館のある部屋を改造している最中です。「紬」と言うコンセプトで。その勉強を込めて、上田市上塩尻にある小岩井紬工房に行って見ました。味のある歴史的の建物の工房を見学させて頂きまして、織り方をご親切に説明していただきました。販売コーナーも見させて頂きました。昔からの模様は意外にモダンに感じて、吃驚しました。
そして、小岩井工房で自分の手で上田紬を織る体験も出来ると分かって、早速今月末の予約を入れておきました。楽しみにしています。

When I first came to Nagano, I was impressed by the prefecture's long history and rich tradition. I first lived in Ueda City, and got to see and know such historical things as Ueda Castle, Ueda Shi-Shi, soba shops that have been run by the same families for generations ("Katana-Ya" has been in existence for over 300 years -- that's longer than my own country!), Kokubun-Ji Temple's Yokado Festival, and so much more.
One such area of Ueda that impressed me was "Ueda Tsumugi", the traditional silk weaving traditionally used for kimonos. Ueda's style dates back over 300 years and is regarded as one of the top 3 weaving styles in Japan. It was reknown in Kyoto for its sturdiness and beauty.
Ueda Tsumugi owes its existence to the area's silk industry (Nagano Prefecture has traditionally been Japan's largest producer of silk). It's influence can be felt in Shinshu University's School of Fiber which continues to research and develop better varieties of silk. I personally love Ueda Tsumugi's patterns and coloration, as well as its texture.
In Ueda City's Shiojiri neighborhood, there is a studio that continues to make Ueda Tsumugi. It is called Koiwai Tsumugi Kobo, and we went there yesterday for a tour. The building is impressive with its historical construction, and it was amazing to see how Tsumugi is woven. We found out they offer mini lessons and I signed up for one for the end of July. I'm looking forward to making my own bit of Ueda Tsumugi.



The loom


dyed silk threads


woven fabric for women's kimonos


You can make your own Ueda Tsumugi like these.


坂井ほたる祭り Sakai Firefly Festival

July 6, 2009: 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano

The moon coming up over Sakai Village

夕べは田沢温泉の帰りで旧坂井村(現在、筑穂久村)を通って、ちょうど蛍祭りが行われていた。夜8時から蛍達が出てきて、川の辺でぴか~としながらうろうろしていました。お月様が出てきたときに満月で田んぼに反射して、綺麗でした。
坂井ほたる祭りは7月の頭で道の駅「まんだらの圧」の裏です。

Last night, on the way back from Tazawa Onsen, we drove through the old Sakai Village (now part of Chikuhoku Village) and happened upon their Firefly Festival. It was a quaint little setting with fireflies glowing along a little stream surrounded by rice fields. When the moon came up, it reflected off the fields, creating a magical scene.
Sakai's fireflies come out in the beginning of July, and the festival is held at the Mandara produce stand.





客室の庭のアジサイ Hydrangeas in the gardens of our guestrooms

July 6, 2009: 季節 Seasons

今は亀清旅館のお客質の何個に庭にアジサイが綺麗に咲いています。冗談で、お客さんにお部屋を案内する時に、「アジサイの花も手配して置きました」と言います。

Several of the guestrooms here at Kamesei have hydrangeas blooming in the gardens. I joke with the guests when I show them their rooms that we especially arranged for the pretty blossoms for them.

信州戸倉上山田温泉の亀清旅館のHPはこちら Click here for the website of Kamesei Ryokan in Nagano.





田沢温泉へ日帰り温泉 Going for a bath to Tazawa Onsen

July 5, 2009: 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano

田沢温泉の江戸の雰囲気 Tazawa Onsen's Edo feel

温泉旅館をやっている私達も他の温泉街に行ってお風呂に入るのは大好きです。今日は田沢温泉に行ってきました。

田沢温泉で旅館は3件しかない小さな温泉で、江戸時代の建物、雰囲気が残っています。石畳の細い道に2,3階建ての木造の宿、歴史を感じさせる松の木、絵になるような温泉街。
旅館組合青年部で知り合った若旦那、宮原Kenさん(今は、県部長として頑張ってくれている人)の宿、ますや旅館のお風呂に入らせて頂きました。私が大好きな木の造りで迷路のよう長い廊下を通ってお風呂場まで行く。お湯はまあ、田沢温泉がぬるいと言う噂を聞いていましたので噂通り、ぬるかったです。源泉が38℃だそうです。その分で長く入れました。露天風呂に入りながら、青空や周りの松や竹を見ながらゆっくりくつろげました。
信州の自然、江戸時代の建築・・・田沢温泉は良かった!
(戸倉上山田温泉から車で約45分。)

Our family runs an onsen ryokan. So what do we like to do on our days off? Go see other ryokans and take an onsen bath, of course! Today we went for a drive to Tazawa Onsen.

Tazawa is a small onsen with only 3 inns in operation. But the narrow cobblestone street is lined with 2~3 story wood buildings, many built in the Edo era, with manicured pine trees giving the town a classic feel.

We went to Masuya Ryokan for our bath. The innkeeper, Ken Miyahara is actually the leader of the prefecture's Junior Ryokan Association. His inn has the type of construction that I just love -- warm wood with long corridors running along the outside of the building, all in a confusing web of passageways.

As for the onsen water, well, I had heard that Tazawa Onsen is only lukewarm. And sure enough, with the onsen source being only 38C, the baths were quite a bit cooler than ours. But that meant we could enjoy a nice, long soak. The outdoor bath was especially enjoyable, with views of the blue sky above and pine trees and bamboo on the hillside next to the bath.

Tazawa Onsen -- blessed by Nagano's wonderful nature and featuring classic Edo-era architecture. It makes my list of Cool Japan.

(Tazawa Onsen is about a 45 minute drive from Togura Kamiyamada Onsen.)

田沢温泉のますや旅館のHPはこちらClick here for the website of Masuya Ryokan in Tazawa Onsen.



Tazawa's Edo Streetscape


Public Bathhouse


Masuya Ryokan's entrance


長い廊下


杏狩り体験 Getting to pick apricots

July 4, 2009: 季節 Seasons

千曲市は杏生産の日本一だそうです。親戚の庭の木で杏狩りに誘われて、今日は子供たちを連れてやってみました。2週間前の雹で傷は大分あったが、見た目だけが悪いで味が美味しいです。二つの種類があって、小さい方は多少すっぱいのでその尼すっぱさが美味しい!いっぱい採れましたので週末のお客さんに「ご自由にどうぞ」でフロントに置きました。県外からのお客さんは特に喜んでいただきました。

Chikuma City is supposedly the number one producer of apricots in Japan. One of our relatives invited us to go over to their garden and pick apricots in their trees. So today I took the kids and we had fun picking the bright orangish-yellow fruit. A lot of them had damage from the hail storm two weeks ago, but the appearance didn't affect the taste. There were two different varieties of apricots, and the smaller ones had a delicious tart kick to them.
We picked a whole bunch of apricots. We brought them back to Kamesei and put some out on the front desk for the weekend guests to enjoy.

信州戸倉上山田温泉の亀清旅館のHPはこちらClick here for the website of Kamesei Ryokan in Nagano.



two bushel baskets of fresh-picked apricots


祭りの準備: 獅子練習 Getting Ready for the Big Festival: Shi-shi Practice

July 3, 2009: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

7月18,19日の上山田温泉夏祭りに向かって、準備が段々と進んでいます。夕べは獅子の練習でした。その「どこい!どこい!どこい!」が耳にずっと残っています。物凄く迫力のアル祭りなので機会があれば、是非見に来てください。私は今年、また獅子に入りますので宜しくお願いします。
(ちなみに、写真に写っているのは私の先輩、亀屋本店の高野さん。今年の若連のトップです。ご苦労様です!)

Preparations for this year's Kamiyamada Onsen Summer Festival (scheduled for July 18th and 19th) are starting to build into a fevered peak. Last night was the main practice for the Shi-shi lion. The "Dokoi! Dokoi! Dokoi!" chant is stuck in my head now. I can't wait for the actual day. It's an energy-filled event -- if you get the chance, definitely come and see it!

(By the way, the guy in the picture is my "senpai", Takano-san from Kameya Honten. He is this year's Waka-Ren top. Keep up the good work!)





県庁でインバウンドの打ち合わせ Taking Inbound Issues to the Capital

July 2, 2009: 活動 Activities

Ken and Tyler at the Capital

長野インバウンドサミットの会長(私)と事務局長(Kenさん)が長野県の観光部に打ち合わせしてきました。長野市にある県庁の中でした。行政と民間と協力で、今年のインバウンドサミットはどうするかちょっとずつ見えて来ました。取り敢えず、今月の15日に諏訪で次のインバウンドサミットのローカルミーティングが行います。酒屋さん真澄の蔵見学及び御柱ミニ体験を予定しています。参加したい方はどうぞ、ご連絡を下さい。

The Nagano Inbound Summit chairperson (me) and Office Director (Ken-san) went to the Prefecture Capital in Nagano City today to meet with the Prefecture's Tourism Department. We discussed possibilities for coordinating this year's Summit -- a partnership between the government and private sectors. Plans for the summit are starting to take shape.
For now, the next "Local Meeting" will be held this month on the 15th in Suwa. We are planning on including a tour of Masumi's sake warehouses as well as a mini-participation event for Onbashira (Suwa's once-every-seven years huge bash, to be officially held next spring.) If interested in participating, feel free to contact me.



県庁の周辺に色々な面白い建物がある。これは「キャンサー・ハウス」 Lots of interesting places around the capital. This is a "cancer house".


もう1つな面白い建物:西洋のレンガに日本の瓦、尚且つバスケットの1ポイント Another interesting building: classic Western bricks with traditional Japanese roof tiles, plus a basketball hoop!


戸倉駅に野菜キオスク Farmers Market Opened in Togura Station

July 1, 2009: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

グッド・ニュース!戸倉駅に直売りの野菜・果実キオスクが出来ました。地元の農産物を安く手に入れる。他の道の駅で桜ん坊は小さいカップで500円、戸倉駅の市場で割りといい大きさのパックで350円ぐらいでした。そして、トマトは色んな種類、アスパラは緑も紫もあり、美味しそうな野菜はいっぱいありました。戸倉上山田温泉からの帰りの電車にローカルのチェリーはどう?

Good News! A mini Farmers Market has opened up in Togura Station. Good prices on locally grown produce. The other day, I stopped by a "Michi-no-Eki" at another town, and they had a pitifully small cup of cherries for 500 yen. The kiosk at Togura Station had a decent sized pack of cherries for about 350 yen. There were several varieties of tomatoes, purple as well as green asparagus, and a whole lot more yummy-looking fresh veggies. So on your train ride back home after your stay at Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, you can munch on local cherries!

信州戸倉上山田温泉の亀清旅館のHPはこちらClick here for the website of Kamesei Ryokan in Nagano.







新しい客室「紬」の工事 Working on Kamesei's Newest Guestroom: Tsumugi

June 30, 2009: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan

先日に書いた様に、今年の亀清の目標は3つの客室の簡単の改造。その第一歩は「松風」を「紬」に作り直します。知り合いからお蚕さんを育つ為の棚は沢山を頂きました。部屋の窓からはコンクリートの壁ぐらいしか見えないのでその棚を壁に貼り、見た目や感覚をもうちょっとやわらかくする。これからは他にもお蚕や紬のテーマで庭やインテリアを改造していきます。

この間、長野県立歴史館に行ったら、この辺のシルク関係の歴史を学びました。シルクの輸出によって信州は割りと早い内に国際的だった。そのルーツも取り入れて、この「紬」という部屋でお客さんが長野の伝統と歴史と触れ合えれるように作っていきたい。

As previously mentioned, my goal this year here at Kamesei is to do a minor remodel on 3 guest rooms. First up is changing "Matsukaze" to "Tsumugi". To be honest, the name matsukaze (literally, "pine tree, wind") has no meaning to me. Tsumugi, on the other hand, refers to weaving. Our local specialty of silk weaving is "Ueda Tsumugi". Many of the old farmhouses around here have second floors for raising silk worms. In fact, a buddy of mine bought such a house, and gave me several of the bamboo lattice-like sheets used for raising the "okaiko" silk worms.

For part of the room remodel, I am using those sheets to cover up the concrete wall seen from the guestroom. I have several other silk-related ideas for the room, so that guests will be able to get a sense for Nagano's silk producing culture, here in our new "Tsumugi" room.