Hanamomo peach blossoms in Achi village

May 10th, 2012 by
Category: Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

“Hanamomo Kaido(road)” is well-known for its beautiful “hanamomo” or ornamental peach blossoms. In the southern part of Nagano prefecture,  ranging from Iida city in Ina valley to Nagiso village in Kiso valley, there are thousands of  well-cared hanamomo trees.

They are usually at their best from April through early May, almost for a month. This year, because of the unseasonal cold weather in April, the best season started late April.

Hanamomo peach in Hirugami onsen-kyo

 

The photo above is taken in Hirugami onsen-kyo. It is a relatively new hot spa resort, the source of its hot water happened to be discovered  in the trial boring to construct a national railroad through  a huge mountain in 1973.

It would be fun if you spend some time on the riverbed of the Achi-gawa.

people enjoying themselves by the Achi (Achi-gawa)

 

The following is the hanamomo peach blossoms in area named Tsukikawa. You will be greeted by blossoms in crimson, pure white, rose pink , and most impressively, white blossoms tinged with pink. There are several paths lined with two thousand hanamomo trees in total, on which you can walk comfortably.

Hanamomo peach paths in Tsukikawa area, Achi

 

“Monkeys, Monkeys, Everywhere!” Best Snow Monkey shots this winter

April 12th, 2012 by
Category: Information, Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing
 Monkeys, monkeys, everywhere.

Snow Monkeys in pairs–
“Mother and Baby”

Baby monkey and Mother in snow

“Friends always together”

Snow Monkeys grooming–
“Well-Cared-For Child Monkey”

Bathing in a hot spring, onsen–
” So many Monkeys bathing together!”

Wise-looking Monkeys–
” Deep in thoughts “

People happy watching the Snow Monkeys
” Worth visiting!”

Since 1964, the Snow Monkey Park, the official name of which is Jigokudani yaen-koen, has been visited and loved by millions of people from all over the world. As a place where the interesting life of the Japanese Macaques can be observed nearby, and as a place of unique snow monkeys bathing in natural hot spring (Onsen) , Jigokudani Yaenkoen is just so popular both home and abroad even after the March 11th.

My fellow tour guides and I have conducted Snow Monkey Tours almost every week for more than three months. We tried very hard to successfully cope with the task. Cheerful smiles and happy faces of our guests were our best reward!
The Snow Monkey park will have another lovely season; from late April or May, you will be able to see tiny little nowborns  carried in their mothers’ arms. There will be no snow on the path to the park anymore. Enjoy a wonderful day in Nagano!

My 5-day Ski and Onsen Trip to Nozawa Onsen

March 31st, 2012 by
Category: Cuisine, Information, Miscellaneous, Onsens (Hot Springs), Outdoor Activities, Report, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

— For Japanese translation of this article, click here (authorized link by Nagano Prefecture) —

Photo 1) Reconstructed Rest House YAMABIKO.
 
Photo 2) Brett and Hayley, snowboarders from Australia we interviewed.

My Ski Holidays at Nozawa Onsen Village

From Oct 2011, I wrote 3 reports about “Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna‘ (Bonds) Declaration” (Report #1, Report #2, Report #3).  The reason for drawing up the reports was that I wanted to encourage international tourists to return to Nagano.  Now, one year has passed since the earthquakes of March 2011.  I thought I would like to choose Nozawa Onsen Village, which was partly damaged by the earthquakes in March 2011, for my ski holidays this year to witness the recovery.  When I was writing the 3 reports, Nozawa Onsen looked quite attractive for a vacation.  Then, I carried out the plan.  This is a report of my 5-day ski trip to Nozawa Onsen Village from March 5th to 9th, 2012.
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Hakuba Ski Event With Kijima Taiko Drum by Kids

March 15th, 2012 by
Category: Events, Outdoor Activities

Februray 13, I visited Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort to join an event “international students ski experience tour”.

Hakuba Goryu and 47 Snow Resort is one of the most popular ski resorts among foreigners in Japan. You can enjoy skiing and snowboarding even at night.

This year, northean Nagano has plenty of snow. Snow falls 2 or 3 meters high and people in those areas are struggling with removing the snow from their rooves and roads.

At the event, I was much impressed with Kijima Taiko Drum performance.

The Kijima Taiko is a taiko performande circle in a small village Kijima Daira Mura. Performaers are only 6-15 years old kids and they have a strict rule that members have to “graduate” when they graduate from their high schools.

But, the performance is professional level. They have won the championship in Japanese Taiko contests many times and have held world performance stages. They have fans especially in US.

Really cool!!

In Nagano, there are many taiko permance circles and you can listen to them in some taiko festivals like Matsumoto Castle and Okaya. But, the Kijima Taiko is unique because performars are only kids and their skills are professional level.

“Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna’ Declaration” Report #2: Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort

December 12th, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Events, Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Onsens (Hot Springs), Outdoor Activities, Report, Seasonal Topics, Shopping, Sightseeing

 — For Japanese translation of this article, click here (authorized link by Nagano Prefecture) — 

yamabiko_top1
The top of Yamabiko Course is the highest point in Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort. Enjoy the great panoramic view.
 
resthouse_yamabiko
Reconstructed “Rest House Yamabiko”. Enjoy food and drink in the cheerful atmosphere. The popular menu is “Nozawana Cabbage Rice Topped with Steak”.

Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna‘ (Bonds) Declaration

This is “Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna‘ (Bonds) Declaration” Report #2.  As reported in Report #1, “Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna‘ (Bonds) Declaration” was issued in Nozawa Onsen Village by Nagano Prefectural Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry and all of Nagano’s seventy Societies of Commerce and Industry on 24th Oct, 2011.  It aims at strengthening ‘Kizuna’, which means bonds or ties, among the tourist destinations in Nagano (Shinshu) and powerfully promoting tourism and business again to cope with the influences of the earthquakes in March.

This Report #2 focuses on “Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort”, which has been fully recovered from the damage of the earthquakes.  At the time of the quake on 12th March, 2011, ceilings of the restaurant “Rest House Yamabiko” on Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort fell to the ground and some of the ski lifts got damaged.  But the ski resort made great efforts to continue its operation until the scheduled end of the previous snow season, May 2011.  Now, with “Rest House Yamabiko” beautifully reconstructed as the photo above and all the skiing facilities fully recovered, Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort is entering the 2011-2012 snow season this month with hope of welcoming many domestic and international guests. 

 

Fully Recovered “Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort” — A Paradise for Skiers and Snowboarders 

Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort is one of the largest skiing and snowboarding resorts in Japan with modern facilities: The longest course or slope boasts a distance of 10,000 meters; The vertical drop is 1,085 meters; The steepest slope is at 39 degrees; The number of courses is as many as 36 in addition to a snow park; Modern and comfortable ski lifts and gondolas are equipped; A variety of restaurants are waiting.  The view from the snow resort is also breath-takingly gorgeous.  When you go down the slopes, you can enjoy a great panoramic view of close and far mountains and the hot-spring downtown before your eyes.  Furthermore, the year 2012 is the 100th anniversary of introducing skiing, so there are various celebrating events.

 

The World’s Precious Combination — Large-Scale Ski Slopes and Traditional Hot-Spring Downtown

With my own experience of skiing and staying in Nozawa Onsen, I can say that this village is very fascinating not only for the Japanese but also for overseas visitors.  One reason is, of course, its perfectness as a skiing and snowboarding resort with large-scale slopes, high-quality snow, the beautiful scenery, and modern facilities.  The other reason is that Nozawa Onsen downtown maintains unchanged Japanese culture.  In other words, the villagers have proudly kept their own lifestyle in the mountains over a long period of time, not accommodating themselves to other cultures.  For example, they have 13 public hot-spring baths called “sotoyu” (the 14th bath will open on 15th Dec, 2011).  The village is blessed with a large amount of hot springs and the public baths are kindly opened to anyone free of charge.  When you go into such a hot-spring bath, a shop, a restaurant or an inn or walk around the streets, you can experience their traditional Japanese lifestyle and will feel human warmth.  Such experience often turns to be the most unforgettable memory of your trip.  I think it is very rare in the world for one village to have such a large-scale ski resort and a genuine traditional hot spring downtown.  Please visit revitalized Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort!

 

This Report #2 mainly introduced Nozawa Onsen’s attraction as a skiing and snowboarding resort.  There is more to follow in “Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna‘ (Bonds) Declaration” Report #3.  

skyline_course
On Skyline Course, a 3500-meter super long slope, you can go straight down from the mountaintop with a great view of Hokushin Gogaku mountains and the hot-spring downtown.   
 
ski_ushikubi
Ushikubi Course, looking down the hot-spring downtown, will satisfy advanced skiers and snowboarders.
snow_shoeing3

Snowshoeing is another fun. While walking a snowfield, you may meet wild animals like a serow or a rabbit!

 

oyu3

After skiing, warm yourself in a public hot-spring bath. This "Oyu" bath is well-known among the 13 baths.

 

 

nozawana_osaramoritsuke2

Why not get famous Nozawana-zuke, or Nozawana cabbage pickles, for souvenirs?

Name of the facility NOZAWA ONSEN SNOW RESORT
Description of business Skiing and snowboarding resort
Address 7653 Toyosato, Nozawaonsen-mura, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-2502
TEL / FAX
  • TEL: 0269-85-3166 (Japan country code: 81)
  • FAX: 0269-85-2201 (Japan country code: 81)
E-mail
URL http://www.nozawaski.com/ (Click English button)
Access
  • If by car, 25 minutes from Toyota Iiyama Interchange of Joshinetsu Expressway.
  • If train (JR Nagano Shinkansen), 1 hour and 15 minutes by bus from Nagano Station.
  • If train (JR Iiyama Line), 20 minutes by bus from Togari Nozawaonsen Station
Operating dates Dec 2011 to 6 May 2012.
Prices of Lifts and Gondolas 1 day pass: Adult JPY4,600, Children (Junior high students or younger) JPY2,100, Senior (over 60) JPY3,500.  Refer to the website for more types of tickets.
How to contact Tel or fax
General information of Nozawa Onsen Village Contact NOZAWA ONSEN Tourism Association. http://nozawakanko.jp/ (Click “English” button.)  FAX: 0269-85-3883   Email: info@nozawakanko.jp  

Special thanks to: Nagano Prefectural Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry, The Community of Commerce and Industry of NOZAWA ONSEN, NOZAWA ONSEN Tourism Association, and residents and concerned people of Nozawa Onsen Village.

How to go to the Snow Monkeys, Winter 2011/12

December 9th, 2011 by
Category: Outdoor Activities

Going to see the world famous snow monkeys soak in their onsen bath at Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park is an enjoyable day trip from Togura Kamiyamada Onsen and/or Nagano City. 

By car, it is an easy 1 hour drive to the trailhead.  But by public transportation, it gets a bit trickier. 

From Nagano Station, do you take the train or bus?  And if train, how do you get from the end of the line (Yudanaka Station) to the monkey park?  And which trailhead is best — Kanbayashi or from the Jigokudani parking lot?

Fortunately for all of you snow monkey fans, I sorted through all of the options and came up with the main connections.  I compiled this train / bus schedule from our local Togura Station changing at Nagano Station to go to the monkey onsen.  It is now updated it for this winter’s bus schedules.

Most of the public transportation options take you to Kanbayashi, from which it is a 30 minute walk to the monkey park.  The trail is relatively flat and goes through a beautiful cedar forest.  The patterns and color of the bark on the trees makes for a very photogenic walk.  And keep your eyes out for serrow and other wildlife (including a stray monkey or two). 

During the winter, Shibu Onsen offers the “Snow Monkey Holiday Minibus” from Yudanaka Station, stopping at Shibu Onsen on the way directly to the otherwise inaccessible Jigokudani Parking Lot.  (Info provided by my main man, Yamada-san from Shibu Hotel.  The Shibu Onsen website hadn’t been updated as of this writing.)  From there, it is only about a 15 minute walk to the Park entrance.  Although shorter in distance than from Kanbayashi, the trail is considerable steeper.

Regardless of which way you go, proper footwear is highly recommended. 

I always suggest to our guests that they take the bus from Nagano to Kanbayashi, enjoy the walk through the cedar trees to the monkey onsen.  Then on the way back, cross the river and walk down past the parking lot down the road to Shibu Onsen and on down to Yudanaka Station from where you can catch a train back to Nagano Station.  Shibu Onsen is a classic onsen resort with narrow, cobblestone streets lined by historical inns.  There’s also a footbath you can soak your frozen (?) feet in, as well as a public bath for day trippers.

Monkeys shouldn’t be the only ones to enjoy an onsen!

Apple Season is here!

October 27th, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Experience, Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics

It’s fall, which means apple season here in Nagano.  Depending on where you are from, visiting an apple orchard may not be high on your list for your Japan itinerary.  However, not only do apples taste their best when eaten freshly picked right of the tree, but Japan has varieties you may have never seen before, and the attention to details that the orchardists give to their fruit will amaze you.

tart kogyoku apples
tart kogyoku apples

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Karuizawa Taliesin

August 29th, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Culture Art, Events, Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Outdoor Activities, Report, Seasonal Topics, Shopping, Sightseeing
koyo
Autumn leaves on the shores of Lake Shiozawa.
 
yonjyuyonenkan
Yonjyuyonenkan is a building originally constructed as a post office in 1911. It is now a restaurant and a museum.

I would like to give you the latest information of “Karuizawa Taliesin” (the previous article is here). 

Karuizawa Taliesin is a leisure park which has Lake Shiozawa, museums, play facilities, restaurants, shops and a rose garden.  It is a very popular tourist spot in Karuizawa because you can enjoy the beautiful lake and the nature.  The park shows different scenic beauty every season.  If you wish to see marvelous red and yellow leaves reflecting on the lake, the best season is approaching.

If you are interested in historical architecture, Taliesin has several important buildings which were transferred from other locations.  For example, “Meiji Yonjyuyonenkan” is a building constructed as a post office in 1911.  It is now used as “Kouko Fukazawa Nonohana Museum” and “Shunsai Pasta Restaurant Sonnet”.   “Suikyuso”, designed by an architect W. M. Vories, used to be a summer residence of Tomiko Asabuki, a prominent writer and translator of French literature.  “The Summer House” of Antonin Raymond, a masterpiece in architectural history, is used as “Musee PEYNET” today.   

If you feel like art or literature, your choices include “Musee PEYNET”, which exhibits works of a French painter Raymond Peynet, “Kouko Fukazawa Nonohana Museum”, showing paintings of wild flowers, and the “Literary Museum of Karuizawa”, exhibiting manuscripts and correspondence of writers connected with Karuizawa.

Moreover, Taliesin has a choice of great restaurants.  So you can enjoy taking a rest with great food and drinks.  You can get souvenirs, too, of course, at the shops.  And last but not least, you can just simply relax on the lakeshore.

Why not visit Karuizawa Taliesin to have a refreshing holiday?

boat-and-suikyoso
Boats and Suikyuso.  Taliesin is the only place in Karuizawa where you can enjoy boating.
 
suiro
A waterway. This is the view before your eyes when you enter Taliesin from Central Gate.
bunko-naikan

Inside of the Literary Museum of Karuizawa.

 

peynet_gaikan

Musee PEYNET. The building used to be "the Summer House" of Antonin Raymond.

 

suikyoso

"Suikyuso", designed by W. M. Vories, was a summer villa of Tomiko Asabuki.

Name of the facility Karuizawa Taliesin
Description of business Park with museums, play facilities, restaurants, shops, rose garden
Address 217, Shiozawako, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0111
Access
Operating dates and hours Open from 9:00 to 17:00 (10:00 to 16:00 in winter).
Prices
  • Park admission: JPY800 (adults), JPY400 (elementary and junior high).
  • Park and Museums combination ticket: JPY1,500 (adults), JPY800 (elementary and junior high).
TEL / FAX
  • TEL: 0267-46-6161 (Japan country code: 81)
  • FAX: 0267-45-3663 (Japan country code: 81)
E-mail taliesin@karuizawataliesin.com
How to contact Tel or email
URL http://www.karuizawataliesin.com
General information of Karuizawa Contact Karuizawa Tourist Information Offices: TEL: 0267-42-5538 (Old Town) / 0267-42-2491 (Karuizawa Station) / 0267-45-6050 (Naka Karuizawa Station). http://karuizawa-kankokyokai.jp/ (Click “English” button.)

Climbing Mt Oobayashi

August 24th, 2011 by
Category: Outdoor Activities

At 1333 meters, Mt Oobayashi (大林山) is the highest mountain overlooking Togura-Kamiyamada onsen on the west side of the Chikuma River valley. To get to the start of the climb, take route 77 south from Togura-Kamiyamada onsen. At the Mezawa Bridge intersection, turn right on route 55. After about 1 km you will see Chishiki Temple on the right. If you have time, stop and take a look around the temple, which has an 11-faced goddess that is displayed in public only once per year.

Follow the road as it winds up the mountain. Just before the tunnel, there is a car park on the left. The track starts from here and is signposted in Japanese (look for the wooden sign that says 八頭 大林 登り口). After about 200 meters the track reaches the old route 55. Turn right and follow the road for about 100m. The track then goes off to the left, up the hill. After climbing up the hill, you reach an intersection. The track on the right goes up a short steep climb to the top of Mt Hatto (八頭), although the views from here are somewhat obscured. We saw fresh bear droppings on the track here, so be careful.

Returning to the main track, turn right and follow the path to the summit. In the spring, you will see many purple and orange mountain azaleas flowering along the path. On a clear day, from the top you can see Mt Kamuriki (1252m) to the north. To the northeast is the Nagano City plain, and to the east, the Chikuma River valley at Togura-Kamiyamada.

Looking down to Togura Kamiyamada from the summit of Mt. Oobayashi

Looking down to Togura Kamiyamada from the summit of Mt. Oobayashi

Azaleas at the top of Mt Oobayashi

Azaleas at the top of Mt Oobayashi

B&B August 7th (Karuizawa)

August 17th, 2011 by
Category: Accomodations, Cuisine, Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Outdoor Activities, Report, Sightseeing
outlook
Beautiful outlook of “B&B August 7th” in the evening.
 
barbecue
The original barbecue consists of delicious pork spareribs, beef, chicken and seafood in different tasty sauces. (Dinner is optional)

Are you looking for a nice B&B in Karuizawa?  Then I’d like to introduce “B&B August 7th” located in the southern part of Karuizawa.  If you look at the left photo above showing the outlook, you will see the building has a French palace atmosphere.  The B&B’s name “August 7th” was given because it is the opening date of the B&B as well as the birthday of the owner.

The B&B welcomes tourists from overseas and has accepted many including those from the USA, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.  According to the owner, the inn is also loved by TV personalities, lawyers, golf competition sponsors and famous professional golf players.

You can also enjoy your stay in various ways there.  For example, you can rent barbecue equipment and enjoy barbecue with food and drinks you bring.  Or you can use the inn as a base of tennis camp.  Or you can hold a private party inviting around 10 to 40 guests.  They also welcome tourists traveling alone.  Long stayers are welcome, too.

Why not stay in B&B August 7th when you come to Karuizawa?

  

breakfast
Breakfast. This is a photo of the hotel’s original French toast topped with season’s fruit, yogurt, blueberry sauce, and so on.
 
double_room
This double room called “Violet” is equipped with 16c French antique bed frame with a canopy and a chandelier.
dining_room

Dining room with classic tableware.

bathroom

Stylish family bathroom surrounded by the glass.

japanese_room

Japanese room in the old Karuizawa summer house style.

Name of the facility B&B August 7th
Description of business Accommodation (capacity: 45 guests, Japanese-style rooms, Western-style rooms), rental barbecue equipment
Tel 0267-41-4606 (Japan country code: 81)
Fax 0267-41-4555 (Japan country code: 81)
Email t.mitsuko@pnetclub.net
URL
http://www.bbaugust7.com/ (Click “English)
Address 13-19, Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0111, Japan
How to contact Fax, email, online reservation (website) or telephone.
Access
  • 4 minutes by taxi from Karuizawa Station.  Take Prince Dori Street, along which Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza stands.  Turn left at the second signal called Narisawa and take the first left into a narrow graveled path.  The B&B is the second on the left.
  • 24 minutes on foot from Karuizawa Station.  Take Prince Dori Street and turn left into a graveled path 3 houses before the signal called Narisawa. The B&B is on the right on the path.
Operating hours Check-in: 16:00, Check-out: 10:00
Notice
Rates and other prices JPY6,000 without meals to JPY18,500 with breakfast per person including air-conditioning
General information of Karuizawa Contact Karuizawa Tourist Information Offices: TEL: 0267-42-5538 (Karuizawa Kanko Kaikan) / 0267-42-2491 (Karuizawa Station) / 0267-45-6050 (Naka Karuizawa Station). http://karuizawa-kankokyokai.jp/ (Click “English” button.)

* This article is written based on the information given by the facility and the writer is not liable for the information.