2020.04.24 休業のお知らせ Corona Closure Announcement

April 24, 2020: その他 Miscellaneous


Kamesei Ryokan will be closed from 24-April through 06-May by direction of the Nagano Prefecture governor.  During that time our chef's cuisine will be available as a bento box for take-out or delivery (Chikuma City, Sakaki Town).  We look forward to providing a relaxing stay after May 6th.

テークアウト・デリバリ提供開始♪ Take-Out & Delivery Service Started

April 19, 2020: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan


Chef武井の創作弁当 6品+ごはん、味噌丸(お湯を足して汁になる♪)、お茶パック、デザート 2人前 3240円 (1人前も提供できます。料金は数によりますので、お問い合わせをください。)


Chef武井の創作オードブルプレート お造り含めて7品 3~5人分 6000円

タイラー手製のシアトルクッキー 6個 540円  ベーカーズダス(13個)1080円 (残念ながら保健所から許可が下りませんでした。)

ランチ 11:30-14:00 (締切り前日の18:00)
ディナー 18:00-21:00 (締切り当日の15:00)



ご注文はお電話026-275-1032、Fax 026-276-1032、メール omotenashi@kamesei.jp まででお願い致します。



旬の物 筍と鯛の卵

酢の物 ホタルイカ

サラダ 安曇野風のサラダ

煮物 鮎の煮びたし

蒸し物 きんぴらごぼうのウニ焼き

焼き物 信州サーモン玉ねぎおろしソース

味噌まる 高村味噌、もずく、豆腐

ご飯 筍ご飯

デザート シアトルクッキー ←この程度は保健所が許してくれました。

特別なお二人にサヨナラ Saying Sayonara to 2 Special People

April 5, 2020: その他 Miscellaneous


Two people I really look up to passed away recently.  Both have had a major impact on my life as an innkeeper.  Here is a bit of a memorial in their honor.

舞鶴の田島さん Tajima-san from Maizuru

Tajima-san 田島さん



Tajima-san was the owner of one of Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada's legendary soba restaurants, "Maizuru".  Ever since I moved here, he really took me under his wing and graciously answered all my curious questions about soba noodles.  Every time I went to eat, he would teach me something new about the surprisingly complicated world of buckwheat noodles -- and always with a smile.  When I made a restaurant guide for the town, Tajima-san was the biggest help for translating the soba-related menu items into English.  I'll never forget what he told me about the origin of kitsune soba and tanuki soba.  'Kitsune' means 'fox' and refers to the abura-age fried tofu topping.  One explanation is that foxes like abura-age.  Another is the reddish brown color resembles fox fur.  So what about tanuki soba?  It means soba topped with fried tempura batter.  Do 'tanuki' (raccoon dogs) like tempura batter?  Tajima-san said the fried batter makes it look like lots of ingredients are in the soup.  But when you it, you realize you were tricked -- the ingredients ('neta' or just 'ta') were left out ('nuki'), hence 'tanuki'.  Raccoon dogs are known to be tricksters, so the name is especially fitting.

The kind Tajima-san that taught me so much about soba passed away last month.


C.W. Nicol (ニコルさん) (Old Nic)

C.W. Nicol at Arato-jo Castle 荒砥城に来たC.W.ニコルさん

環境を守る運動でぎゃぎゃうるさく言っていたニコルさんは私の大ヒーローです。英字新聞「ジャパンタイムズ」の連載コラムで知りました。読めば読むほど、会ってみたいと思い、縁(訳)があって、この戸倉上山田温泉に講演会で呼ぶことが出来ました。世の中で自分のヒーローを実際会う機会がなかなかないけど、一つの夢を叶いました。上田駅までを迎えに行って、雑談していた時に「ニコルさんはアフリカでどこかの国立公園の設立の手伝いもなされましたね」と言ったら、「違うんだよ。俺がエチオピアの国立公園を設立した」と怒られました。さすがヒーロー。戸倉上山田温泉の川(千曲川河川敷)と山(城山、天狗山)を案内しまして、次の日は講演会。その時に、千曲川の河川敷にコンクリートテトラポットを置く作業が行われていた。ニコルさんの講演の中で、ロンドンのテムズ川やバンクーバーのフレーザー川のコンクリートを取り壊して、自然に再生運動の説明もあった。残念ながらあれから千曲川のテトラポットは増えてきた。(泣き) (今もまたテトラポット工事が行われている。)



Old Nic has been active in promoting efforts to protect the environment for over 6 decades.  I got to know about him through his column in the Japan Times.  I had always wanted to meet him, and finally got the opportunity when I was able to arrange for him to come and give a talk here at Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada.  It's not often one gets the chance to meet one's hero, so I was thrilled to be able to meet Nicol-san.  I went to pick him up at Ueda Station and while chit-chatting on the way back I asked about him helping to create a national park in Africa.  He gruffly replied that he didn't help -- he was the one to create the park in Ethiopia.  Oops!    Here in town, I took him down to the Chikuma River and up to the surrounding mountains.  At that time, work was being done to install concrete tetrapods along the river bank.  In his speech, Old Nic talked about how London with the River Thames and Vancouver with the Fraser River were removing concrete and taking the rivers back to their natural state.  Unfortunately, the talk didn't succeed in the sense that since then, the number of tetrapods has increased.  (More are being made again today.)

Another fond memory of Old Nic is when he and I were invited to an award ceremony by the governor of Nagano Prefecture.  Most of us were nervous to meet the governor, but Old Nic slapped Abe-san on the back and, wearing a deerskin suit, pressed the governor to make better use of the prefecture's deer resources.  (I was delighted Old Nic mentioned me in his column about the award ceremony.)

Old Nic passed away yesterday from cancer.  He was 79.

テトラポット(泣き!) Crying over the concrete tetrapods

どちらの顔が赤い? Who's face is redder?

ニコルさんの記事 Old Nic's article

コロナウィルスに負けるな! Corona Virus will not defeat us!

April 4, 2020: その他 Miscellaneous



Due to the corona virus, everyone is practicing social distancing.  Of course, that means for ryokans like us practically all the reservations have canceled. 

We don't know whether to cry or to laugh.  For now, we're not ready to cry, so we are operating as normally as possible.  For our guests' well-being, until the virus subsides as much as possible we will be serving meals to the guests in their rooms instead of our banquet room to avoid large gatherings of people.  We will also be offering our private outdoor bath "Shinano-buro" for free.

We hope this new corona virus problem goes away soon. Until then, take care everyone.

お食事はなるべくお部屋で出す Serving guests' meals to their room

貸切露天「しなの風呂」の無料化 Family Bath offered for free

Love Letter to Food in Nagano 長野の食文化にエール

March 8, 2020: 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano, グルメFoodie


An overseas journalist asked for our opinion on food in Nagano.  She wanted to know what the signature dishes are and the best restaurants, with a focus on international cuisine and dietary restrictions.

I’d like to share the list I put together, but please be forewarned I am biased for our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada.

Nagano is famous for buckwheat noodles aka soba.  There are highly regarded soba restaurants throughout the Prefecture, including Kaya here in our town (historical thatched-roof building that used to be a sake brewery; served authentically with an actual wasabi root that you can grate yourself),

Kaya's historical thatched-roof building

Kaya's authentic soba with an actual wasabi root to grate yourself

Katana-ya in Ueda City (Over 300-year history -- longer than my country!  Whatever you do, don't order the super-size.  You'll be there for days trying to finish it.),

Katana-ya (Lining up to get in)

and the venerable Kusabue (various locations).  Recently some younger chefs are opening soba restaurants with some creative twists.  And some areas have regional specialties such as what they mix the buckwheat with or how the noodles are served. For example, Iiyama City's Tomikura district uses the root of a local plant instead of flour.  Pictured below is Kajika-tei in Tomikura.  Next to the soba is in the photo is Iiyama's distinctive 'sasa-sushi' -- sushi rice with wild mushrooms wrapped in a bamboo leaf.

But real soba fans like to drive up the highlands / plateaus (e.g. Togakushi or Kaida Kogen) where the buckwheat is actually grown.  There’s something extra special about eating soba near the buckwheat fields, made in the clear mountain air with clean mountain water.  We usually go to Yamaguchi-ya in Togakushi. Their dining room has a huge picture window so on a clear day you can enjoy a view of Togakushi Mountain with your soba.   (As a bonus, the owner is an actual Toguakure-ryu ninja.)

Soba-meister and Togakure-ryu ninja Yamaguchi-san (2nd from right)

Besides soba, Nagano’s soul food is a type of dumpling called oyaki.  It is vegetable filling surrounded by a flour shell and fried, steamed, or (traditionally) cooked in coals.  Pictured below is Ogawa-no-sho, famous for the latter.

Cooking oyaki dumplings in coals at Ogawa-no-sho by Zenkoji Temple

The best (yes, my bias) is Shichifuku in our town, .  While at many touristy places the oyaki is of questionable freshness, at Shichifuku she grills them after you order so they come piping hot (they go great with a cold beer!).  Common oyaki fillings are daikon radish, eggplant, and nozawana, a type of turnip green.  Shichifuku serves all three of those along with a dessert version filled with sweet purple adzuki beans.

Nagano's Shinshu-Shinmachi district is famous for raising sheep, so mutton is popular, too.  Known as Genghis Khan, it is usually grilled at your table.  In our town, Kimijima-en is the place to go.  Their apple-based dipping sauce is the best!

Manzo's original facade. (They recently remodeled and have a new, much fancier entrance.)

For other Nagano ‘delicacies’, this ocean-less prefecture gets creative with sources of protein.  Things can get pretty deep.  Gotoku-tei near Nagano Station can take care of your craving for bee larvae or stir-fried crickets, as well as the more common ‘basashi’ – horse meat sashimi.  Try their gibier dishes, too.  Gotoku-tei’s owner Miyashita-san is also a Togakure-ryu ninja.

Gibier hotpot at Gotoku-tei.

As for different types of cuisine, as with all of Japan ramen and tonkatsu are well-represented.  Eating good ramen is almost a religious experience in Japan.  Just in our town, we have an excellent variety of ramen shops.  Kame-ya has a good miso ramen, and one of their dishes is served with the toppings making a picture.

Kame-Ya's miso ramen

Issei’s signature ramen features a “W” (double) soup of both tonkotsu (pork bone) and fish.  Yoshiya’s has a soup base made of baby clams (great for people who don’t eat meat).

Yoshiya's baby clam ramen (bottom right) with their signature dish, grilled"horumon" (intestines, stomach, etc.)

A younger guy just moved back to town and opened up Ukigumo last October.  His specialty is tsukemen with a hot chili powder soup.  (If you're not familiar with 'tsukemen', it is basically deconstructed ramen with the soup and noodles served separately.  You dip the noodles in the soup to eat.)

Ukigumo's signature Tsukemen with hot chili powder dipping sauce

For Tonkatsu, the southern Nagano town of Komagane is famous for a version with a sweet sauce called “Sauce-katsu”.  One restaurant in our town has a version that is a local legend.  Daikokuya’s nin-tare katsu features a ‘tare’ (sauce) with ninniku (garlic).  If you like garlic, err, love garlic, this dish is epic.

Our area’s particular specialty is oshibori udon.  We take the fat udon noodles and a locally-grown, really, really, really spicy daikon radish and grate the radish and in the radish broth you have to add miso paste to tame it down, then dip udon and eat.  Kohaku is especially famous.


For international, I’m a snob when it comes to Thai, and our town’s My Thai is superb.  .  Our town also has a fancy French restaurant, Lapis Lazuli  but I have to plead ignorance – I’ve never had the money to go there.  We have some reputable Italian, but I recently went to one that I want to take my parents to next time they come (it’s that excellent).  It’s the restaurant named Vino della Gatta attached to the winery in our neighboring town, Sakaki.  So you get excellent Italian and can try out Nagano’s wine.

Our town has a new Indian restaurant but when I tried to go they happened to be closed so can’t comment yet.

When in Japan, having a formal kaiseki-style meal at least once is a must.  Our chef’s version is fairly creative and fairly reasonable, www.kamesei.jp.

Kaiseki-style dinner by Kamesei Ryokan's Chef Takei.

For vegans, the above-mentioned oyaki and oshibori udon are popular.  For gluten-free, some soba shops including the above-mentioned Kaya offer some soba made of 100% buckwheat flour (80/20 or 70/30 is more common) which works as long as you substitute salt for the dipping sauce.

Both our chef’s kaiseki and the above-mentioned Gotoku-tei can handle most dietary restrictions.  But when it comes to halal, pork and alcohol-free is possible, but not full halal.

For halal, if you’ve got the money, lapis lazuli,  If not, Kebab World in Ueda.

Nagano’s restaurant “scene” is what you make of it.  The ski resorts of Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen have increasingly global apres-ski scenes.  Matsumoto City has a great bar scene, including some new craft beer breweries (as well as some great bakeries).  There are an increasing number of coffee shops and bean roasters popping up for the caffeine crowd.

Here in our town Togura-Kamiyamada, there are 100+ restaurants and not a single national chain.  Each one is run by an owner-chef.  At many of them, you can sit at the counter and chat with the chef and regular customers (the yakitori restaurant Ushiwaka is especially great for that).

And some of the restaurants are as quirky as their owners, like Rokkatei decorated with European antiques and besides fondue, their signature dish is a tofu steak.

Rokkatei's iconic tofu steak with demi-glace sauce.

For my wife and I, our favorite food 'scene' is to go for a drive out to Nagano's rural by-ways, enjoying the mountain scenery along the way, and stopping at a quaint restaurant before heading to a day-use onsen bath house.  One such destination is Cafe Terrace Momo.  (As a bonus, their menu is entirely vegan.)

Mari eating dessert in Cafe Momo's garden


読売新聞のコラム、新記事: グレターツーリズム、長野流 Latest Yomiuri Column: Greta Tourism

February 8, 2020: その他 Miscellaneous


The latest column by Kamesei Ryokan's owner, Tyler, in the Yomiuri Newspaper.  The topic:  Greta Tourism.










松代焼の販売を始まりました Now Selling Matsushiro-Yaki Pottery

February 7, 2020: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan, 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano

我が亀清旅館で新たな実践: 松代焼の販売。Our latest service for our guests: Selling Matsushiro-yaki pottery.

Our local pottery, Matsushiro-yaki, now sold here at Kamesei Ryokan.
We love the Aurora borealis-like wavy blue-green of the glaze. This pottery is a designated heritage craft of Nagano Prefecture and has been being made in Nagano City’s Matsushiro district for 200 years.
Matsushiro-yaki would make the perfect souvenir for your trip to Nagano, and we offer it at reasonable prices.

テレビ放送のお知らせ 温泉+サイクリング+人間ドラマ? Kamesei Ryokan to be on TV: Onsen, Cycling, Drama?

January 14, 2020: その他 Miscellaneous


Asahi TV kindly videotaped Kamesei Ryokan and our Zukudashi Eco Tours ride. It will apparently be shown on TV in the greater Tokyo area today. We hope it will bring more people to Togura Kamiyamada for onsen and cycling!


明けましておめでとうございます。2020年は宜しくお願い致します。Welcome to 2020!

January 5, 2020: 亀清旅館 Kamesei Ryokan, 季節 Seasons







The Year of the Rat, 2020 is here!

We would like to take this moment to thank all of the kind people who came and stayed at Kamesei Ryokan in 2019.  Thanks to everyone's support, we managed once again to make some major improvements to our inn.  The biggest change was re-locating our main outdoor bath.  Once again, our "100-Year Bath" is hand-built, made from river rock.

2019's most positive highlight was the Rugby World Cup, but that was overshadowed by Typhoon Hagibis in October.  Thankfully our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada had no major damage.

We have many more improvements planned for 2020, and await your stay!

冬こそ、戸隠へ行こう! Togakushi is Great in Winter, Too!

December 27, 2019: 季節 Seasons, 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano






Togakushi is an easy day trip from our inn, Kamesei Ryokan.  It's a 25 minute train + 60 minute bus.  Schedule for Winter 2019/2020 as above.