BS朝日「ふるさとバンザイ!!」で千曲市の紹介! Chikuma City to be featured on Asahi TV

2013.09.28: メディア Media




Hello Everybody! On today's Asahi TV cable channel (as well as Asahi Nagano), from 1:00pm, the TV show "Furusato Banzai!!" will air. Giving a 'banzai' to various hometowns ('furusato') throughout the country, this episode will feature -- Chikuma City! It's in honor of our city's 10th anniversary since Togura Town, Kamiyamada Town and neighboring Koshoku City merged and became one.

If you look closely at the show, you may see a certain 2-meter tall special guest!

I hope everyone tunes in and watches the show!

BS朝日ふるさとバンザイ!! Asahi TV Furusato Banzai

荒砥城祭り2013年 侍になろう! Feel Your Samurai Spirit at the 2013 Arato Fort Festival

2013.09.27: その他 Miscellaneous




Above our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada stands the mountain fortress Arato-jo. Once a year the castle is opened for free to the public for the Arato-jo Festival. For 2013, the festival will be held on Sunday 20-October. There will be plenty of activities especially for kids to experience what samurai life was like.

Normally the Arato-jo Festival and the Togura-Kamiyamada Onsen Halloween Party are held on the same day, and as I always running the Halloween deal, I can never participate up at the castle. However, this year Halloween's being moved a different date, freeing me up to help at the castle.

So come and join my for this year's Arato-jo Festival!

荒砥城 Arato-jo Fort

Chef武井の9月後半メニュー Chef Takei's Late September Menu

2013.09.26: その他 Miscellaneous

A couple of photographers came to do a photo shoot for a magazine. I got to sneak in this picture using the pro lighting of Kamesei Ryokan's Chef Takei Kaiseki Dinner Menu for late September. Menu description as below:

旬の物 焼き茄子 Baked Eggplant
酢の物 佐久鯉南蛮漬け Spicy Nanban-seasoned Saku Carp
サラダ 生湯葉サラダ Salad with Yuba (tofu skin)
蒸し物 Big栗(吃驚)茶碗 Surprise Chawan egg custard
つくり かじき、甘海老、蛸 Kajiki Tuna, Shrimp, Octopus
焼き物 鮎塩焼き Salt-rubbed Grilled Ayu Sweetfish
台の物 4種類の茸鍋 Hot Pot with 4 Varieties of local Mushrooms
別皿  味噌漬け豆腐と松茸のホイル焼き Foil-baked Tofu seasoned with miso, Unagi (eel) seasoned with white miso and Matsutake mushrooms
揚げ物 信州サーモン唐揚げ風 Shinshu Salmon Fried, Topped with Onion Sauce
お椀  松茸汁 Matsutake Mushroom Soup
香の物 野沢菜 Nozawana and assorted Pickled Vegetables
水皿  3食の地どり葡萄 Tri-color Local Grapes

高橋まゆみから秋のハガキ Autumn Postcard from Takahashi Mayumi

2013.09.25: 長野に来る理由 Reasons to Come to Nagano





ギャラリートーク 11月6日(水)



We received a postcard from doll making artist Mayumi Takahashi. Probably not from the artist herself, but one of the staff from her museum. But it included a hand-written message -- I take my hat off to their hard effort.

The museum regularly sends us postcards announcing their seasonal shows. The one for this autumn and winter runs through 25-March, 2014 and features an exhibit depicting the process that goes into making the dolls.

高橋まゆみ人形館Mayumi Takahashi Museum of Doll Art

波閉科神社の秋月祭: 日本の伝統はここにある! Habeshina Shrine's Fall Festival -- Herein lies traditional Japan.

2013.09.23: 上山田お神楽 Kamiyamada Lion Dance

My first time with the 'okama' mask



我々神楽保存会の皆が朝10時から夜10時まで町中で行列して回りました。(途中で私は布団引きの休憩をとりましたが…) とにかく、長い一日でした。



"Modern Japan is all Starbucks and Mickey D's," is a commonly heard complaint.

On the 23rd, the shrine that overlooks Kamiyamada Onsen, Habeshina Jinja, held its 'Shugetsu-sai' (Harvest Moon Festival) in conjunction with the autumnul equinox. The lion dance troupe that I participate in performed all day long, starting at 10am and finishing at 10pm. We processed around town stopping at various homes and businesses to do the lion dance.

Normally my position is that of flute player. But occasionally during practice I take a turn inside the shishi lion, and this day I gave the regulars a break and 3 times took a place inside the lion -- my first time in front of an audience!

I felt honored to be able to partake in this very historical and traditional festival.

Perhaps the people that can't see the old Japan in today's modern facade just don't know where to look!

The grand-finale: a lantern-lit lion dance

Habeshina Shrine's sumo ring...

...and the wrestlers on their way to it.

秋月際: 新築お祝いで吃驚 Surprising Lion Dance at a House Dedication

2013.09.22: 日米関係Culture Shock







The Autumnal Equinox holiday weekend is the biggest of the year for the Kamiyamada Kagura Lion Dance troupe to which I belong. Every shrine in Kamiyamada holds a Harvest Moon Festival, and our troupe splits up to perform in the various ceremonies.

Once again this year, on the first day I helped with the Yasaka Shrine's festival. Then on the 2nd day, I played the flute all day for the shrine that watches over our onsen town, Habeshina Jinja.

For the festivals, we have a procession that winds through the respective districts, stopping at the homes of the festival elders to do a lion dance. We also are invited to give blessings at newly built homes as a commemmoration. During those performances, besides doing the dance in the living room, the shishi lion stops at the kitchen, bath room and toilet room, as well, to ward off evil spririts.

I usually accompany the lion as it goes through the house, and this year I realized something for the first time: the lion carries a katana sword in its mouth during those occassions.

I thought katanas had been outlawed in Japan! This was definitely one of those situations where I didn't want to ask too many questions!

Pictures are some various scenes from the Yasaka Shrine Harvest Moon Festival.

At Yasaka Shrine

冠着太鼓の9月土曜日ライブ Saturday Night Taiko in September

2013.09.21: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada




Guests who stay at Togura Kamiyamada this September are in luck -- every Saturday night from 8:30pm at the main stage near the Kara-koro Footbath, our local taiko group "Kamuriki-daiko" will perform.

On the 21st, after my futon-flipping duties, I snuck out and went to watch the performance, joining Kamesei's guest from Russia and all the other people. The Kamuriki Daiko group never ceases to amaze me with their energy.


2013.09.20: その他 Miscellaneous





"I used to always be amazed whenever I saw someone buying rice at the supermarket -- Why pay for something that you can grow yourself?
But since I've gotten too old to work in the rice paddies and have come to buy rice at the supermarket myself, I realize just how much less work it is to do so."

(Mentioned by a guest one day.)

To all of the people sweating it out working to harvest the rice this time of you, you have my respect. Please keep it up!

温泉タウン事業: 戸倉上山田・商店街を世界へ Onsen Town ProjectTaking Togura Kamiyamada to the World

2013.09.19: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

先日は商品デザイナー 八木沼 修さんが戸倉上山田温泉にお越しになって頂きました。また詳しく発表しますが、経済産業省「クールジャパンの芽の発掘・連携促進」の補助金制度を受けました。その視察の為に五八PRODUCTSの八木沼さんが来ました。私が案内したのは:

海外から見た日本の魅力(カッコよさ=COOL)を磨き上げ、世界から多くのインバウンド(訪日観光客)を呼び込もうという、経済産業省事業に戸倉上山田温泉「ONSEN TOWN」プロジェクトが選ばれました。平成25年度の残り半年に複数の専門家を招聘し、地域の魅力の磨き上げをともに考えます。皆様、ぜひ御参加・御協力お願い申し上げます。