Matsumoto-Jo Nagano’s Unmovable BattleCruiser

May 31st, 2010 by
Category: Culture Art, Experience, Sightseeing

As part of my job as foreign liaison in Snow Monkey Village-Yudanaka I often have to show people around and soften some of the cultural challenges…

usually I have at least a little background knowledge and am reasonably well prepared,…but not today….

ah ow, I was about to crash into Matsumoto-Castle, almost literally^-^…Not even knowing where the entrance was, was going to be a challenge for me.

It’s strange how every day brings new & different drama.

Luckily I had met one of the other Go-Nagano Bloggers the week before and had a phone number…

Around 8:30am Tom Jones answered his phone, and we agreed to meet (together with my slightly unusual guests) at 10:40am by the Family Mart near the Castle.

I was so thankful to have someone who had a few clues about the place…

10:30 Coming off the highway from Yudanaka my phone starts to shake & ring,

pulling off the road it’s Tadachi-san from the local government government…

…”I’ll be your guide today….” – super, another guide can’t hurt^-^.

Mike & Jacky our English Montaineering guests were very impressed they now had 3 guides!

But wait there’s more^-^

Some god must have been watching my looks of agony as I tried to sleep the night before dreading the unknown castle,

when we reached Family Mart carpark, and Tadachi-san showed me the City Council parking he said “let me introduce you to my guide for the day”

It was like Mike & Jacky (who are actually guides themselves) had started an atomic chain reaction…first me, then Tom, within minutes Tadachi-san, and then in the final moments before entering…the best guide inthe universe ‘Aoki-sensei’.

I hope the students that Mike & Jacky bring, enjoy Nagano’s people as much as I did today.

Matsumoto-Jo was a very impressive military creation, but more impressive was Aoki-sensei’s,  Tadachi-san’s, and my new friend Tom Jones’, explanation.

Tom Jones having a PHD in Forests & Wood, Tadachi-san’s care & courtesy and Aoki’s detail + quite ripe jokes made this an absolutely unforgettable experience…

if I can work out how to put some pictures up here…please enjoy…also see Katsuo Marushige’s 100year old Bonsai trees below too^-^warming-up-before-castle

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Recycle me anytime!

May 29th, 2010 by
Category: Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Outdoor Activities, Sightseeing
Looking up at the sky, Thinking about having to rip out the (slightly sexy) thermal underwear the night before…
I was kind of excited to go cycling with Tyler and the Kamiyamada-Cycling Adventurers…
I didn’t realize just what I was in for, or atleast who I would meet until the ride finished for me.

I thought I was out for a quick test ride on Kami-Yamada Village’s Courtesy Cycles….but it was more than that.

What I got was a chance to meet a great bunch of local cyclists, who were keen enough on cycling to donate their time and effort:

Introduced to me with a name like "Yeeee heeeeee", one Kamiyamada's Characters fuels up
Introduced to me with a name like “Eeeee Gaaaaa”, one Kamiyamada’s Characters fuels up

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Kobayashi-san’s Agricultural Village Idea

May 25th, 2010 by
Category: Accomodations, Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing
The number of local people who went out of their way to show us interesting things was amazing!

The number of local people who went out of their way to show us interesting things was amazing!

The train ride earlier helped top off a fun day with Kobayashi-san from Seishun-Agricultural Village in Ueda.

Kobayashi-san understands that solely growing rice & vegetables is not enough in today’s Japan,  so he is leading the way around Ueda with a new idea…

Tourism Farming will allow us to better make use of our downtime – or something along these lines, I never trust my understanding of many conversations we have…

Kobayashi-san told me (and teachers/guides Mike & Jacky from England) so much in a very short time, unfortunately the time between talking and writing this blog means I’ve lost it – sorry:  but do check out www.murada.com & visit him for more info.

Kobayashi-san also has a custom built Eco-study-lodge for rent if you’re interested in local agriculture & staying near Ueda.

This is a must buy for me, I am sure my parents could always holster a '.....' like this, could be useful weeding around kiwifruit vines?
This is a must buy for me, I am sure my parents could always holster a ‘…..’ like this, could be useful weeding around kiwifruit vines?

After visiting several locations Mike & Jacky were keen that their kids would enjoy many of the experiences they were seeing in Nagano

The problems we have are the same everywhere^-^

The problems we have are the same everywhere^-^

Kobayashi-san together with one school was doing some volunteer work in Nepal, as is Mike (and me too…in 1991!!)…

It was a real thrill to meet the calibre of people today!

Mike actually was paid to climb Mount Everest, and met my kiwi hero Edmund Hillary before he died.

The characters today, Kobayashi, Mike, Jacky and Yoda-sensei (& Edmund) – it was an awesome coincidence!!!

and students were so full of energy!!

and students were so full of energy!!

Keep running guys!!^-^

Rain came down heavy on the rice field outside, but was cosy inside the school library^-^

Rain came down heavy on the rice field outside, but was cosy inside the school library^-^

How to Ride Nagaden Train from Nagano to Yudanaka

May 25th, 2010 by
Category: Information

Click & Gritt your teeth as a kiwi with an overly high pitched voice (me) gives a long and drawn out guide through Nagano ‘JR’ Station down to the dungeon Nagano Dentetsu Station…

many people comment to me about Japan’s contrasts…hi hi hi…see if you can spot one here (apologies for not being able to find a more attractive/deep voiced hunk as your guide^-^).

Good Luck & Enjoy your 'experience'

Late Skiing on Yokote-Yama

May 19th, 2010 by
Category: Information

Click for Video:

A roller coaster of weather patterns that hit’s Nagano around the end of each winter means great snow & skiing even when Tokyo feels like summer!!!

It is not the powder snow we get during Janurary & February, but city foke wouldn’t dream of an air-conditioned ski field this good!!!

The New Zealand & Australian equalivant would be skiing at Christmas time – Summer Fun!!!???!!!

Click to see Video

Click to see Video

For more info checkout:

Shigakogen Official Website

Yokote-yama Live Cam

Yokote Hutt & the remote Shibu-Saddle Hotel

Skifield Prices

Ski Rental Prices

Ski Schools

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