亀清旅館の秋の秘湯 Kamesei's 100-Year Bath's 'Akibae'

2011.11.22: 季節 Seasons

Kamesei's secret onsen?





In Japanese, there is a concept called 'akibae', which loosely translated means 'fall glow'. In autumn, sometimes there is a soft glow at dusk just as the sun is settling behind the clouds as it slips below the horizon, giving everything a golden tint of color. Just at that moment, I happened to check on our outdoor bath here at Kamesei Ryokan, the 100-Year Bath, and was treated to this glorious scene of the mist raising up off the onsen bath with the yellows and deep reds of the maple leaves, the soft light from the 'andon', and the bright yellow ginkgo leaves in the foreground. The elusive 'akibae'!

It makes our outdoor bath feel like a secret bath hidden away in a quiet woods.

I admit -- I'm a bit biased as I made this bath with my own hands. But doesn't it look magical?

戸上青年部イルミネーション隊 Togura Kamiyamada Illumination Gang

2011.11.21: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

(Photo courtesy of Kodaira-san)



In recent years, the members of Togura Kamiyamada Onsen's junior ryokan association (me included) have been putting up lights along Kamiyamada Onsen's main street for the winter. These days we've been busy putting up the lights for this winter.

In fact, we are adding more wire to double the length of the winter lights down the main street. It's a simple gesture of welcome to our town's guests this winter, as well as brightens the night up for everyone living here, too!

Hideo-san's high wire act

OB Toshiki-san Installing the Wire


亀清の中庭に紅葉が来ました。 Fall Colors Have Come to Kamesei's Garden

2011.11.20: 季節 Seasons

momiji ablaze



Kamesei's 'naka-niwa' central garden has a momiji (Japanese maple) tree in the middle, and right now its leaves are a brilliant shade of yellow. Fall colors have come to Kamesei's garden!

I wonder if the koi swimming in the pond enjoy the colors. I know our guests here at our inn sure have been. The temperatures outside have dropped considerably, but thanks to that, the fall colors in our garden are outstanding.

散歩からEブックへ Peterさんの千曲市ガイド From Taking Walks to Publishing an E-Book: Peter's Guide to Chikuma City

2011.11.19: 活動 Activities

Peter in front of his favorite palanquin garage in Togura






Over on the Togura side of the Chikuma River lives a guy from Australia named Peter.

When he isn't globetrotting around the world on UNESCO-related consulting jobs, he likes to go for walks and hikes here in Chikuma City. That's piqued his interest in the historical townscapes as well as the wide variety of flora and fauna in the surrounding hills.

Peter diligently translated many of the Japanese historical markers he came across, and researched about the plants and animals he encountered, and compiled all of the info into 20 different courses that he published in an E-book.

Currently Peter is putting the final touches on the book, and I am helping out a bit in that process.

What amazes me is that most people would say, "I wish there were an explanation in English for all the sites around here" and leave it at that. Not Peter. He forged ahead and made the English explanation! Bravo!

The book will be officially published shortly. Will let you know!

Advance picture of Peter's Book Cover

上山田の紅葉 Fall Colors in Kamiyamada

2011.11.18: 季節 Seasons

Togura Kamiyamada's name-bearing Hill in fall colors



Our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada is beautiful when covered in snow,
and the soft pinks of the cherry and apricot blossoms in early April are beautiful,
the vivid light green that spring brings is a sight to behold,
and the deep green of summer is so soothing,
while the golden browns and yellow of the harvest season contrast so warmly with the light of the harvest moon.

But Togura Kamiyamada's most colorful season is undoubtedly that of the fall leaves. Right now the hills around a ablaze in oranges and reds and yellows. And our onsen town is spotted with the colors of autumn.

Here are some pictures of Fall Colors in Togura Kamiyamada.

戸倉上山田温泉の入口工事 Togura Kamiyamada Onsen Getting a Face Lift

2011.11.17: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

Kamiyamada Onsen's Entrance Work





Togura Kamiyamada Onsen's main road coming from Nagano City is finally getting its narrow spot widened. As part of the construction, a small park will be created. As the park will be situated at the entrance to our onsen, I hope we can make some sort of welcoming monument that gives guests a warm impression upon arriving at our onsen town.

Last year I visited Tamatsukuri Onsen in Shimane Prefecture. The entrance to their onsen is marked by a massive stone 'tama' (ball). Their monument left a lasting impression on me.

Perhaps since Kamiyamada's hot spring was supposedly found by turtles, we can make a turtle monument based on that legend. What do you think?

玉造温泉のモニュメントの写真はここPicture of Tamatsukuri Onsen's monument here.

新・鼠大根 特に辛い! New Crop Nezumi Daikon -- Super Hot!

2011.11.16: 季節 Seasons

New Crop Nezumi Daikon





Here in our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada, there is a type of cuisine that you can only eat in this area: "Oshibori Udon". We take a really, really spicy daikon radish called "nezumi daikon", grate it, squeeze ('shibori') the juice out, and use it for dipping the fat udon noodles in.

Oshibori udon has been around for many, many moons as a dish that locals make for themselves to eat. The first restaurant that started serving oshibori udon to customers was Corona. I stopped by there for lunch and happened to time it for the arrival of the new crop daikons. Freshly picked daikons are even spicier than normal -- quite a shock to the senses!

Pictured are some of the stubby nezumi daikon with their distinctive mouse-like tails. In fact, 'nezumi' means 'mouse'. Freshly grated, their spiciness is potent!

Corona's owner gave me one to take back to our inn. Our chef used it for our guests' miso soup the next morning -- chopped, not grated (less spicy that way).

If you visit Togura-Kamiyamada Onsen, you would be remiss not to try our local specialty, oshibori udon.

亀清旅館x英字タウン誌メトロポリス Kamesei Ryokan x Metropolis

2011.11.15: メディア Media

Kamesei in the Metropolis



Tokyo's Metropolis English magazine's November 4th-17th issue has a feature on Kamesei Ryokan. Hopefully some English-speakers living in Tokyo will read about our inn and decide to come up to Togura Kamiyamada Onsen this winter for a soak in our onsen bath!

If you're in Tokyo, pick up an issue and check out the article on us. Or, come by Kamesei for a copy. And while here, try our bath!

取材@テレビ朝日スーパーJチャンネルさん TV Shoot for ANN's Super J Channel

2011.11.14: メディア Media

TV Reporters Sahel-san and Alan-san at Kamesei Ryokan





Tokyo's Asahi TV has been shooting footage of Kamesei Ryokan for an upcoming show. Two of their reporters, Sahel-san and Alan-san, interviewed Mari and I today. The show will air as per the following:

TV Asahi (ANN) Tokyo / Kanto area
23-Dec (Wedn. / Holiday)
18:00~ (approx.)

4 days of interviews and footage will be edited down to around 17 minutes. Should make for an interesting program!

Super J Channel HP

亀清の100年風呂が紅葉見風呂 Kamesei's 100 Year Bath in Fall Colors

2011.11.13: 季節 Seasons

Fall colors with your onsen bath.




Kamesei Ryokan's first outdoor bath, the "100 Year Bath", is putting on a show of fall colors now.

The bath has always had a hidden feel to it tucked into a small garden behind our inn. Now with the trees' leaves changing colors, it is taking on a magical feel.

Now is the time to enjoy a Koyo-mi (fall leaves-viewing) onsen bath!