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!

家族風呂工事: 看板木の植えつき Building the Family Bath: Planting the Main Tree

2011.11.12: その他 Miscellaneous



Construction of Kamesei Ryokan's family bath is progressing smoothly. Right now we are working on the garden. Or, I should say, our gardener Okada-san is. He won't let me touch it -- this is going to be a professional garden!

The boulders have been moved into place, and now Okada-san is working on the plants. First the trees, and the first tree is this 5-meter tall Shinano tree. Nagano's historical name is "Shinano", from this tree.

I can't wait to see the finished product!

信州小麦ラーメン亀屋の生まれ変わり 秋野菜味噌ラーメン編 Ramen Kameya's New Look (and Fall Miso Ramen)

2011.11.11: グルメFoodie

Falling for Fall Ramen at Kameya

戸倉上山田尾の線で新しいラーメン屋さんが生まれました: 信州小麦ラーメン亀屋。 




Togura Kamiyamada Onsen has a new ramen shop: Shinshu (Nagano) Flour Ramen Kameya.

Actually, the shop has been around a while under the name Men (noodle) 's Table Kameya. But the owner is so proud of using only local wheat flour for his ramen that he included that in the name of his shop.

Kameya also has a seasonal menu, and this time I ate the Fall Veggies Miso Ramen.

Our onsen town Togura Kamiyamada is fortunate to have such a distinct ramen shop!

家族風呂工事: 飛び石の通路 Building the Family Bath: Stepping Stones Path

2011.11.10: その他 Miscellaneous

Rice mill stepping stone -- rude or re-use?



The building of Kamesei Ryokan's family bath is continuing. Right now I am working on the approach to the bath, a path made of stepping stones.

When I went to the gravel company to pick out the stones, there were some round carved stones used to mill rice. I thought it would be interesting to use them for the path, too. Some people may think it's rude to use a food-related thing for people to step on. But I think re-using something that has been thrown away is a better use of materials. What do you think?

中日関係で米国を学ぶ Learning about my American self by comparing China and Japan

2011.11.09: 日米関係Culture Shock

New York? Tokyo? No, Peking!






北京で「Understanding the Chinese Mind」という本を買った。作家の Boye Lafayette De Menteさんは中国以外に日本も韓国も研究していて、欧州にも米国にも比較した本である。「アジアは形式バレ、欧米はカジュアル。特にアメリカ。アメリカは世界一カジュアルの国だ」と書いてあった。中国の事を勉強するつもりで、自分の事の勉強になってしまいました。(私もカジュアル過ぎるのかなと心配になってしまいました。。。)

When I travelled to Peking 18 years ago, the things images that stuck in my mind were of the taxi from the airport stopping to let sheep cross the freeway, and of the peasants (?) from the countryside camping in the subway station. And a lot of grey ferro-concrete buildings.

This time around, during my sales trip there with the Nagano junior ryokan assocation, I saw a very different Peking. The shopping streets and hotel districts were indistinguishable from Shibuya or Times Square!

Besides the brand name shops and department stores, there was a touristy 'China Town' (do locals even go there?) and a block behind our hotel was a grey street more like I encountered 18 years ago.

Peking has a very complicated facade, and that is only the tip of the iceburg that is China. I got the feeling that it would take many trips here to get accustomed to China.

While in Peking, I bought a book called Understanding the Chinese Mind by Boye Lafayette De Mente. My hope was to try to get a feel of what Chinese travellers may be interested in and if Kamesei Ryokan and/or Nagano would meet their needs. Besides China, the author also mentions similarities with Korea and Japan, while comparing all to and amongst Europe and America. One phrase shocked me: "Asians tend to be more formal than Westerners, with Americans being the most casual in the world." I went to Peking to study about the Chinese, and ended up learning about myself.

(And wondering if maybe I'm too casual?!?!)

Official Tourist Pic in front of Tiananmen Sq.


Peking Duck (the real deal!)

Live Tai Chi for Breakfast

China Town (in China)

They're Alive (Literally!)