ヒバ風呂:テスト入浴 Test Soak in our new Bath

December 27, 2008: その他 Miscellaneous


I filled up our new bath for the first time to see if all the plumbing works. Our kids went ahead and did a test soak. Even though the temperature outside was chilly, the kids looked nice and warm in the onsen water. I'd say the test was a success!

今年の初雪(もう1日早くして欲しかった) Our First Snow of the Year, 1 Day Late

December 26, 2008: 季節 Seasons

I'm Dreaming of a White Boxing Day (?)

When I woke up this morning, I was treated to the sight of Kamesei's gardens covered in snow. This was our first snow of the year here in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen. It was beautiful, but I really wish it had snowed 1 day earlier, so we could have had a White Christmas.

普通は雪が降る前にタイヤー交換。。。 People usually change their tires BEFORE it snows...

Santaさんが来た証拠 Proof that Santa came

December 25, 2008: 日米関係Culture Shock

The cookies and milk we placed in front of the fireplace for Santa have disappeared. And the apple we put out for Rudolph has a big chunk bitten out. That means Santa Claus came during the night!
We have lots of presents under the Christmas Tree. I was hoping to open them this morning but our sons have to go to school. Why can't Christmas be a holiday in Japan? If only the emperor were born 2 days later... (23-Dec is the emperor's birthday and a national holiday.)
We went to Christmas Eve mass last night at the nearest church. One thing the pastor mentioned that stuck in my head is that in Japan, most people would that it wouldn't be a Christmas celebration if you didn't have a Christmas Cake. In other words, there is no thought about the real Christmas message. Christmas is getting more and more commercialized back home in the States, too, but here in Japan it's all commercial. KFC pulled off a marketing marvel and has people here thinking they need to eat chicken today. I really hope the Christmas Message doesn't lose out to fried chicken and cake!

Mari and Misaki opening up stockings

第2露天風呂造り:その14 サイフォン設置 Building an Outdoor Bath Round 2: the siphon

December 25, 2008: その他 Miscellaneous


Our 2nd outdoor bath is ready to be tested. I finished the siphon drain today. For cooking, it's called a taste test. For a bath, a taste soak? Anyways, I will give it a try tonight!

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.


December 24, 2008: その他 Miscellaneous


When I first came to Japan, I got hooked on, among other things, Japanese pottery. I love the rough touch of ceramics like Hagi-ware and Shigaraki-ware. And my favorite porcelain is from Tobe. The signature blue and red colors contrast so beautifully with the white porcelain.

When I came to Nagano, I saw the local "Matsushiro-yaki" ceramics. It was love at first sight. The earthy, tactile feel of the ceramic and the blueish-green glaze with its wavy, aurora borealis-like look is captivating. The color supposedly comes from the apple wood ash in the glaze. I've been to the main kiln several times to try making some pottery myself. Using a pottery wheel and creating your own cups and plates gives one a new appreciation for the craft.

Here in Chikuma City, we have a localized version of Matsushiro-yaki, called "Sarashina-yaki". It's sold in a shop here in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen named Takaraya. Sarashina-yaki has a blue version similar to Matsushiro-yaki, along with a pink version. (When friends of ours get married, I often buy them a his and hers pair of tea cups.) I stopped by Takaraya today to buy my wife a Christmas gift. They had some brown colored items. When I asked, they said they are trying some new pottery using ash from the nearby active volcano, Asama-yama. I think it's great they are trying creative new things with this traditional craft.

Besides Sarashina-yaki pottery, Takaraya sells other local crafts, such as hand carved wood crests of the Ueda Shishi lion, woodblock prints by local artist Mori Bakuro, Ueda Tsumugi weaving, etc. If you come and have a wander around Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, be sure to stop in and check out Takaraya.

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 Togura Kamiyamada Onsen.

注:この文書は戸倉上山田温泉旅館組合の若旦那ブログと連携です。Note: This entry is a collaboration with the Waka-Danna (Innkeepers) Blog: http://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/togurakamiyamada


長野放送と言うテレビ局の千曲市代表として書いた分です。NBS television station's website Chikuma City page.
NBSのHPはこちらClick here for the NBS website.

Sarashina-yaki pottery, blue and pink

Hand-carved Ueda-Shishi plaques

New Asama-yama volcanic ash pottery


軽井沢イルミネーションKaruizawa Lights

December 23, 2008: 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano



One of the joys of winter in Nagano is seeing the lights of Karuizawa. Because of its high altitude (approx. 1000 meters above sea level), the temperatures are chilly. However, the air is crispy clean, giving the illumination an extra glimmer.
Our family took a drive to Karuizawa and saw the lights today, including the rumoured 'Singing Christmas Tree'.

軽井沢は亀清旅館・戸倉上山田温泉から車で約45分。ローカルの電車で約1時間。Karuizawa is approx. 45 minutes from Kamesei by car, or 1 hour by local train.

軽井沢の冬物語のHPはこちらClick here for Karuizawa's Winter Story website

旧軽井沢の銀座通りで私達の一番好きなお店、オーストリア産のガラスの飾りなど扱っている「ベルナール」のHPはこちらClick here for the website of our favorite shop in Kyu-Karuizawa's Ginza shopping street: Bernard. This shop sells glass art from Austria among other fine items.

Tyler & Misaki



亀清の手造りはんこbyあこすけ堂 A handmade Kamesei stamp by Akosuke-do

December 22, 2008: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan


A guy I had met on the train one day came to Kamesei for a bath. His wife apparently makes stamps as a hobby, and she made me this cute one. It has my name in kanji, plus Kamesei's turtle mark, plus the onsen symbol. It's so cute! Thank you for this great present!

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

はんこや「あこすけ堂」のHPはこちらClick here to see more hand-made stamps

第2露天風呂造り:その13 溝設置 Building an Outdoor Bath Round 2: the gutter surround

December 21, 2008: その他 Miscellaneous


We took another step towards finishing our 2nd outdoor bath. I placed the gutter around the bath to catch the overflow and carry it out to the river. The bath will be 100% natural hot spring water, with a constant flow of the onsen water. Tomorrow will be the deck installation, so I'll adjust the drain gutter to the height of the deck, and finish the gutter corners with concrete.

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

1月5日のDIMEに亀清旅館の紹介 Kamesei to be featured in the upcoming DIME magazine

December 20, 2008: メディア Media


The issue of Shogakkan's DIME magazine coming out on 05-Jan will have a feature on ryokans that are making positive progress despite the harsh economic conditions. One of the inns to be featured is Kamesei Ryokan. Keep your eye out for it!

DIMEのHPはこちらClick here for DIME's website

第2露天風呂造り:その12 屋根 Building an Outdoor Bath Round 2: the cover

December 20, 2008: その他 Miscellaneous

Murakoshi-san nailing down the roof

The weatherman calls for rain soon. Just by coincidence, we finished the cover over our 2nd outdoor bath today. Originally, I had wanted to do without a roof. The outdoor bath we built last year is open, so at night you can bathe in the starlight while soaking in the onsen water -- very popular with the guests. However, this outdoor bath is made of yellow cedar, and wood ages quickly in direct sunlight. Hence the cover.