これから2年間、千曲警察署協議会委員 Installment as a Police Citizen Consultant

June 14, 2013: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi

これから2年間は私が千曲警察署協議会委員となりました。14日に委嘱式が行われました。

今回の協議会で取り敢えず私からは2つの提案しました。
ある小学校の周りが「ゾーン30」となって、車の特別スピード制限となった事を聞いて、上山田小学校の周りもお願いした事と、
温泉の繁華街の客引きは抑えられないのかと、つまり、海外からのお客さんがせっかく浴衣を聞いて、下駄を履いて温泉街をカラコロ歩いて頂いているけど、真っ青な顔で戻ってくる事がある。

皆様は何か警察署に伝えたい事があれば、どうぞ仰って下さい。次の協議会に言いますので。

I've been selected to the local police district's consultative committee. For the next two years, if anyone has any suggestions for the police feel free to let me know and I will pass it on!

千曲警察署Chikuma Police Department





千曲川ラベンダー畑は満開 Chikuma River Lavender Field in Full Bloom

June 13, 2013: その他 Miscellaneous

戸倉上山田温泉の近くで千曲川沿いにちょっとしたラベンダー畑があります。万葉スポーツエリアーにあり、亀清旅館から車や自転車で5分、散歩で20分、走り(?!)で約10分という便利な場所。
ラベンダー畑は写真の様に無茶苦茶広い訳でもないですが、周辺の山々や遠くの戸隠連峰という背景で、綺麗ですよ。
そして、千曲市のおもてなしでシーズンの後半でお客様がラベンダー狩りを無料で出来ます。今年は6月22日(土)からとなります。
この頃は私が朝6時にジョギングをやりだしました。息子は中学校で陸上部に入っていて、一緒に走りたいと思いました。大間違えでした。彼が早くて、私は叶えない。
という訳で、毎朝箱のラベンダーを楽しませて頂いております。
Togura Kamiyamada's lavender fields along the Chikuma River are in full bloom. Located in the Manyo Sports Area, the fields are a convenient 5 minute drive or bike ride, or 20 minute walk (or about a 10 minute jog!) from Kamesei Ryokan and our onsen town, Togura-Kamiyamada.

The fields are fairly large by Japanese standards (which means small compared to the lavender fields I've seen back home), but the setting is exquisite -- with the sound of the Chikuma River gurgling by and the surrounding hills and distand Togakushi Mountain providing a lush, green background for the vividly purple flowers. And that's not even mentioning the delicious fragrance the flowers give off.

From Saturday June 22nd, visitors will even be allowed to pick some lavender stalks to take home with them. A bit of 'omotenashi' service on the part of our city.

This week, I've been jogging down to the lavender fields every morning. I'm trying to get my legs in shape for an upcoming junior ryokan association soccer game. Being able to enjoy the lavender fields has made the sweat and sore muscles bearable.

I hope you, too, can come and enjoy our beautiful lavender fields this year!

萬葉の里スポーツエリアラベンダー畑 Manyo Lavender Field






幻のシュネー Magical Schnee

June 12, 2013: グルメFoodie

野沢温泉シリーズ#3: ペンションシュネー。

山菜狩りツアーを紹介しました。
採ってきた山菜を調理してくれる宿を紹介しました。
お風呂は以前に紹介しました常磐屋旅館の伝説の千人風呂に入りました。
後は紹介したいのは、今回に昼ごはんにお世話になったペンシオンシュネーです。

お店の造りはログハウス?日本古民家?
インテリアーはステインドグラスで洋風?標縄で純和風?
場所は野沢温泉の毛無山の麓でお店は花ががふんだんに飾っているけど山はその延長?
スタッフとお料理は若手の情熱で溢れる…

幻なお店。

野沢温泉への旅の際、昼食でもペンションシュネーへ是非にどうぞ。

#3 in this Nozawa Onsen series: Pension Schnee.

So far I've mentioned a fascinating sansai gathering tour,
and introduced an inn that offers to prepare the sansai you picked and serve it to you for your dinner.
During my recent trip to Nozawa Onsen, of course I took the time for a bath in Nozawa's legendary onsen water. I've mentioned Tokiwaya Ryokan's famous "1000-person Bath" in the past, and this trip I finally got a chance to bathe in it.
But there is one more place I would like to introduce: the magical Pension Schnee.

We went to Pension Schnee for lunch. The building is part western with log house and Bavarian Alps accents, but has Japanese 'Kominka' classic farmhouse features, too. The interior is also a blend of Western (beautiful stained glass) and Japanese (Shinto 'shimenawa' ropes). The hotel has a plethora of flowers in their planter boxes and entrance way, which seemlessly blend with Nozawa's ski slopes stretching up Mt. Kenashi. The staff and the cooking reflects the enthusiasm of their youthfulness.

All in all, a magical place.

On your trip to Nozawa Onsen, I highly recommend a stop at Schnee!

ペンションシュネー Pension Schnee



Stained glass and Western accents ...


... with Japanese 'shimenawa'


Such a magical setting for lunch


Blend of Western and Nozawa Sansai





山菜狩り後、調理してくれる宿 Post Sansai-gathering, have your inn cook them!

June 11, 2013: その他 Miscellaneous

野沢温泉の山菜狩りツアーを楽しんだ後、その晩に泊まる宿に調理ができたら良いと思われますよね。実は、それは出来る宿があります。大手ホテルには難しいでしょうけど、親切にやってくれる小さな宿は野沢温泉にあります。前もって打ち合わせした方が良いし、対応できない忙しい日もあるでしょうけど、聞いてみる価値がある。

私は今回の野沢温泉の旅でお世話になった宿がハウスサンアントンでした。若旦那の建策君が料理長でもいる。彼らがプロデュースする料理は「素朴で暖かいヨーロッパの家庭料理を中心に、オーストリアでの長い生活経験を生かしさらに研究を重ねた手作り料理」だそうです。その中で野沢の周辺の山で採れる山菜を取り組むのが好きそうです。お客さんが山菜狩りから持って来るのを調理して、その晩の夕食に出すように協力が出来ると言う。

これは北信の最高な楽しみ方: お昼は山菜狩り体験、夜はその採ってきた山菜が入っている夕食を食べて、尚且つ野沢の本格的な温泉お湯でぽかぽかになる。お勧めです!

After a sansai gathering tour, wouldn't it be great if you could take your harvest to the inn you're staying at and have the chef prepare the sansai and serve it for your dinner? Actually, there are inns that will do that for you. Larger hotels might not have the flexibility, but some smaller inns will gladly provide that service. It's best to inquire ahead of time, and the chef might not be able to accommodate such a request during peak times, but it's worth checking out.

On my recent trip to Nozawa, the inn I visited was Haus St. Anton. The chef, Kensaku-san, specializes in European home-style cooking based on his many years of living in the Austria Alps. But he enjoys incorporating sansai from the Nozawa Onsen mountains into his cuisine. And he told me he would be willing to have guests bring their own sansai and he would prepare it and serve it to them at dinner.

That would make for a perfect trip to Northern Nagano -- enjoying a sansai gathering tour then having your inn serve the sansai you picked at dinner, followed by a soak in the famous Nozawa Onsen hot spring mineral waters. I highly recommend it!

ハウスサンアントン Haus St. Anton



Haus St. Anton also has a jam-making operation. They have a shop on Nozawa Onsen's main market street.





ユニーク長野: 山菜狩り@野沢温泉 Unique Nagano: 'Sansai' Gathering at Nozawa Onsen

June 10, 2013: 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano

tara no me

長野県旅館青年部の今年度の「ユニーク長野」企画で長野らしい体験を世界に発信する。その一つの体験:山菜狩り。

野沢温泉観光協会で山菜狩りツアーを提供しています。先日は私が参加してみました。ガイドの河野さんが親切に山菜狩りのテクニークを教えてくれた。どういう所でどういう山菜が目付けれるか、似ている植物の中でどれを食べられるかどれがお腹の中までかゆくするか、それぞれの山菜の調理仕方など、細かく説明してくれた。

人工的に育った山菜が最近に主流となったが、実際に山に入って、自分の手で自然の山菜を採って見たら、どれだけ貴重な物か分かります。

山菜の世界は奥深い。山菜の種類や調理(袴剥き、あく抜き等)、ガイドの河野さんのお話しを聞いて、感心しました。

山菜狩りは恐らく日本全国であるだろうけど、信州の雄大の山々は山菜狩りのメッカです。こういう長野らしい体験を「ユニーク長野」企画で全世界お伝えしたい。

野沢温泉観光協会
山菜狩りツアー
5月13日ー6月16日(天候・気象状況によって変更有り)
予約: 必要 (〆切3日前まで)
時間: 3時間
料金: 2300円
集合場所: 野沢温泉ビジターセンター
集合時間: 09:00又は13:00
持ち物: 丈夫なズボン、長袖、歩きやすい靴、飲み物
参加人数: 2名~30名
備考: こごみ、千枚、根曲がり竹の筍等等の春の恵み・山菜を狩りながら高原を散策する。ガイド付き。

他の山の幸ツアー:
☆筍狩り&トレッキング (北信の代表の根曲がり竹) 6月17日~7月8日 09:30~ 3時間半 3300円
☆イワナのつかみ捕り 7月下旬~8月31日 20匹12000円~
☆野沢菜収穫体験 11月3日%�
☆旬きのこ狩り体験 10月上旬~11月下旬
☆秋の恵み探し体験 半日トレッキング 10月31日ごろ 木の実や茸
The Nagano Junior Ryokan Association's big project that I am working on is "Unique Nagano". We are hoping to share Nagano's many unique activities and experiences to the world. One example that I recently took part in: Sansai gathering.

The Nozawa Onsen Tourism Association offers guided sansai gathering tours. Literally 'mountain vegetables', "sansai" are edible plants that grow wild in the mountains. Traditionally, they are considered a spring delicacy. Lately, though, cultivated sansai that are available year-round are flooding the market. They can't beat the raw, wild bitter taste of real sansai picked in the wilderness.

Our guide on my recent trip to participate in the tour was Kawano-san, one of the employees of the tourism association. He graciously taught us the techniques to find sansai as well as how to tell the difference between edible plants and ones that would turn your insides tickly. Kawano-san also explained how each different type of sansai is prepared for cooking as well as common culinary uses.

The more we learned about sansai, the more we realized how vast the sansai world is: the breadth of variety, how some have to be blanched or soaked in wood ash to remove the bitterness, the delictable ways they can be cooked, and so on.

Sansai gathering takes place throughout Japan, but Nagano with its majestic mountains and deep affinity with sansai cuisine is like a mecca for sansai. Through the Unique Nagano project, we hope to make experiencing sansai gathering available to the world!

Nozawa Onsen Tourism Assoc.
Sansai Gathering Tour
From May 13th through May 16th (depending on weather)
Reservations: Must be made 3 or more days in advance
Time Required: 3 hours
Price: 2300 yen per person
Meeting Place: Nozawa Onsen Visitors Center
Meeting Time: 9am and 1pm
Things to Bring: Durable pants (jeans), long-sleeved shirt, durable shoes, drink
Minimum # of Participants: 2
Maximum # of Participants: 30
Description: Enjoy picking sansai such as Kogomi, Senmai, Nemagari Bamboo Shoots, etc. while walking through the forest in the mountains above Nozawa Onsen. Guide provided.

Other Tours:
Bamboo Shoots Gathering & Trekking (June 17th to July 8th from 9:30am. 3-1/2 hour tour. 3300 yen.)
Iwana (charr) Catching (from mid July to end of August, 20 fish for 12,000 yen)
Wild Mushroom Gathering Tour (from early October to late November)
Fall Wild Mushroom, Berry and Nut Gathering -- 1/2 Day Trekking (around October 31st)
Nozawana (rapeseed) picking (around November 3rd)

野沢温泉観光協会 Nozawa Onsen Tourism Assoc. Tel(0269)85-3155 masaki@nozawakanko.jp



Meeting for the tour at the Nozawa Onsen Visitors Center


Nozawa Nature Tours


View back down towards the village



Our Guide -- and what to wear!


'fukinoto'


'tara no me' ...


... delicious fragrance ..


... but don't confuse with poisonous plants!


'yama-budo' (wild grape bud) ...


... not to be confused with this poisonous guy


'warabi'


ビフォア式 客室改造開始 The Before Ceremony: Guestroom Remodel Start

June 9, 2013: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan

亀清旅館はこの6月に2つの客室のトレイ・洗面台を改造します。テレビ番組のビフォア・アフターみたいに、ワクワクです。工事の結果は楽しみにしている。

工事の開始の時に設計士と現場担当の大工さんと集まって、塩と清酒を振って2礼2ハイ1礼しました。

建物の工事開始時にそういう儀式をするって知っていたけど、改造の時にも行う事、感心しました。参加させて頂いて、嬉しかったです。

アフターは6月末になりますが、宜しくお願いします!

June is our slowest month here at Kamesei Ryokan. So we are using the down time to remodel two of our guestrooms. This is an exciting improvement for our inn!

Before the construction started, the architect and the lead carpenter called me in for a simple ceremony. We did a ritual clapping and bowing sequence, followed by sprinkling salt and sake to purify the job site and pray for an injury-free, successful job.

I'd heard of such ceremonies performed when breaking ground on new construction. I didn't realize it was done for remodels, too. It was a privelege to be able to take part!

Stay tuned for more updates of the remodel!





初夏の合作生け花 Collaborative Early Summer Ikebana

June 8, 2013: その他 Miscellaneous

亀清旅館のロビーの初夏生け花。

従妹のみどりさんはまた東京から来て頂いて、綺麗な花をたくさん買ってきてくれました。テレビ撮影で漫才タレントの□□□の2人がちょうど来ていて、みどりさんと私と芸能の2人は合作で花を生けてみました。4人のセンスのブレンドで楽しい生け花が出来ました。

放送情報が入れたらお知らせします。それまではどうぞ、生け花を楽しんでください。

Early summer ikebana for Kamesei Ryokan's lobby.

Our cousin Midori-san drove up from Tokyo with these pretty flowers, We happened to have a TV crew filming with two manzai comedians, so Midori and I and the comedians collaborated and arranged this ikebana display.

Once details for the TV show are released, I'll post an announcement here. Meanwhile, enjoy our colorful flowers!





亀清旅館の新しい顔 Facelift for Kamesei Ryokan

June 7, 2013: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan

魔女は顔の疣が取り除かれたって気持ち。

亀清旅館の玄関に馬鹿でかい鉄の看板がありました。本来の顔になるべくの隣の立派な松の木で邪魔でした。鉄は固くて人間にやさしくないし、あの高さは飛行機で来るお客さん(いない!)には良いかもしれませんが、普通な人間の高さとあまりにも合わなくて、どうかとずっと思っておりました。

数年前に私が木造の「亀清旅館」看板を作りました。
自分で手彫りで文字を彫って、
人間にやさしい木で、
人の目線の高さで。

鉄筋の看板を卒業させても良い様に。

先日はやっと鉄筋の看板を撤去する事になりました。業者さんに頼んで、クレーンを使って取り壊してくれました。

これで亀清旅館の外観が大分すっくりしました。立派な松の木が目立っていてよい。もう一つ嬉しいなのは目線が引くなる為上の電線はあまり気にならなくなった。

我が宿は新しい疣なしの顔となりました♪

I feel like a witch who has had a wart removed from her face.

Kamesei Ryokan has always had a huge steel sign out front. Steel is such a cold, hard, unfriendly material. And the sign was uncomfortably tall. Besides, it interfered with the grand Japanese pine tree in front of our inn that by rights should be our inn's symbol.

A few years ago I made a wooden sign for our inn. Wood is such a warmer, more natural material than steel. And my sign's height was at a more normal human eye level.

The oversized steel sign was no longer needed.

The other day, we finally had a company come and remove the steel sign. They brought in a crane, lifted it up, cut it, and took it away.

Now our pine tree is in its rightful proud state, and our friendly wood sign greets guests. One other benefit is that with the wood sign being at a lower spot, it directs the eyes lower and away from the electrical wires overhead.

Kamesei's new facade -- without the wart!





亀清旅館の外国人宿泊者は全体の7.8% (2012) Kamesei's Foreign Guests 7.8%

June 6, 2013: 活動 Activities

千曲市に頼まれて亀清旅館の外国人宿泊者の人泊数を調べました。2012年の分は何と504名様でした。亀清旅館の全体の7.8%。感謝で一杯です!福島の原発事件から大分戻ってきましたって感じです。

今までは亀清旅館の外国人お客様でオーストラリアが一番多かったですが、2012年は私の母国、あめりかが一番でした。

亀清旅館は世界口コミサイトTripadvisor.comの日本全国旅館トップ25に選ばれました。これからも長野県・戸倉上山田の良さを世界に発信しますので、宜しくお願い致します。

Due to a request from City Hall, I tallied up the number of guests we had from overseas here at Kamesei Ryokan for 2012. The total was 504 people, 7.8% of our total. We are certainly thankful for the support from our friends from overseas. 2012 was a healthy rebound from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

In the past, Australians have been the most numerous, but for 2012, my fellow Americans took the #1 spot.

Kamesei Ryokan was selected as one of the top 25 ryokans in all of Japan by tripadvisor.com. We will continue our efforts to bring the best of Nagano and our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada to the world!





県旅館組合と県庁訪問 Visiting the Prefectural Office and the Ryokan Assoc. Gen'l Meeting

June 5, 2013: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi

5日は県の旅館青年部の仲間と県庁へ行って観光課の国際室と私達の「ユニーク長野」の企画の打ち合わせしました。その後、長野県旅館ホテル組合会の総会に参加しました。今年は特別で、私ども青年部役員の紹介もありました。

総会の後の懇親会で普段はお話が出来ない親会の先輩方や県観光課のリーダー達や国会議員さん達などと会える機会です。今年は宿の方が忙しくて顔だけ出して帰りました。本当はもっと積極的にそういう所に参加しないと…

慣れなっきゃ!

On the 5th, I went into Nagano City and along with some fellow Junior Innkeepers, stopped at the Prefectural Office and paid a visit to the Tourism Association to discuss our "Unique Nagano" project. Then we attended the annual General Meeting of the overall Nagano Prefecture Ryokan Hotel Association. As something new this year, myself and the other Junior Innkeepers directors were introduced at the meeting.

At the reception afterwards, the elder innkeepers as well as leaders from the prefecture's Tourism Department and various politicians gathered for a buffet. It's a chance to get to talk with people you normally don't have a chance to meet. But our inn was a bit busy so I had to leave early after making a few greetings.

I have to get used to attending such functions!