Tyler with Mari and daughter Misaki in front of Kamesei's entrance
(以前から日本語のプロフィルがありましたが、英語が漏れていました。My profile had only been in Japanese, so here it is in English.)
Hajimemashite. My name is Tyler Lynch. Welcome to my "American Innkeeper in Japan" Blog. I have been enjoying running a ryokan here in Nagano, as well as writing this blog, and hope you have fun reading it. Here is a little background about me:
I was born, reared and raised in Seattle, Washington, USA. Seattle, being a port town, has a long history of interaction with Japan. In the past, it was mostly forest products and fish. Now its Boeing and Microsoft related. When I was in high school, my dad got me a job in the shipping industry dealing with the Japanese trading houses. That, along with influence from the homestay students my parents hosted over the years, led me to study Japanese language in college. Learning the language got me interested in Japan's culture and its way of thinking, which led to an exchange study trip to Kobe. That experience rocked my world, the world I had known unitl then.
After graduating the University of Washington with a major in International Studies, I wanted to improve my Japanese language skills more, which meant living here. I ended up doing an Eikaiwa gig in Nagano. The prefecture's beautiful nature, with the green mountains and all the onsens, really charmed me. When I met the daughter of an onsen ryokan, I invited myself over for a bath, and we hit it off from there!
I ended up dragging Mari back to Seattle where we got married and lived for 11 years. I worked for a trading company dealing with, among many things, shipping produce to Japan. Meanwhile, I kept thinking about how nice Kamesei Ryokan was, with its spacious lobby and warm wood construction, relaxing gardens, watari-roka passageway leading to the detached guestrooms, and (of course) the hot spring mineral baths. Mari, who had seen how hard her parents had to work, wanted nothing to do with it. However, after starting to raise kids, she came to want to return home. Her mother was wanting to retire but with no one to take on the inn, she was going to tear it down and turn it into a parking lot.
We decided not to let that happen.
In the fall of 2005, we moved here to start helping out. People may think that shipping onions and running an inn are too different, but I assure you they are basically the same. As an onion shipper, my job's main purpose was to make the customer happy. That is the essence of a ryokan -- making the guests happy. It's just with here, we get comments back from the guests like, "Thanks to staying at your inn, I feel as if my body's batteries were recharged." I never got feedback like that from my onion customers.
I am fortunate to have this opportunity to work here at Kamesei, and to be able to provide a relaxing experience for our guests. Flipping futons and making outdoor baths is only half of my job. The other half is working with the other innkeepers to make our town more attractive to visitors, and with people throughout the prefecture sharing Nagano with travellers from overseas. This blog is a chronicle of my endeavors, offered for your enjoyment. Yoroshiku.