Hotel Generous Karuizawa

April 2nd, 2011 by
Category: Accomodations, Cuisine, Events, Report
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The appearance of Hotel Generous Karuizawa in the evening.
 
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Entrance and lobby.  In winter the wood stove will warm you.

// Hotel Generous Karuizawa is operating as usual without any influence of the March 11th earthquake and radiation as of April 2, 2011.  Please feel safe to come. //

I often go cycling in the southern part of Karuizawa, not only for holding guided bike tours but also for my own refreshment.  South Karuizawa boasts beautiful, open and tranquil scenery with rich nature.  When I go to South Karuizawa by bike, I often pass by beautiful buildings surrounded by green lawn and have been curious about them for long.  This time, finally, I visited there, “Hotel Generous Karuizawa”.  So let me introduce it to you.

First of all, Hotel Generous Karuizawa stands in a specious ground as the above photo.  The European-style buildings and guestrooms are elegant and classic.   Each of the ten guestrooms has its own design, so you can choose the room of your taste by looking at the photo gallery of the hotel’s website.   You will have dinner and breakfast at the restaurant called “Artigny”.  The restaurant serves authentic French multi-course dinner and Western-style breakfast using seasonally fresh local ingredients (they even have their own farm!).  In warm seasons, you can enjoy breakfast at the terrace with a great view of the extensive lovely garden.

Hotel Generous Karuizawa is also known for wedding.  They have their own chapel on their premise where you can have a wedding ceremony.  They have four different types of banquet rooms, Andrews, Angella, Artigny and Anny, where you can hold a wedding banquet.  You can choose the room depending on your taste and group size, from a very small group to a large group of 120 guests.

If you like to have a relaxing mountain resort holiday, why not staying at Hotel Generous Karuizawa?  I’m sure you will have a special time there.

 

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Suite double room on the second floor.
 
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Suite twin room (Barrier free).
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Restaurant Artigny. Dinner and breakfast are served.

 

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French dinner with fresh and seasonal local ingredients.

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Breakfast at the refreshing terrace facing a beautiful garden.

Name of the facility Hotel Generous Karuizawa
Description of business Accommodation and wedding
Tel 0267-48-1105 (Japan country code: 81)
Fax 0267-48-2825 (Japan country code: 81)
Email contact@generous.jp
URL
Address 566, Hocchi, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0113, Japan
Reservations and inquiries Online reservation (on hotel homepage), Email, Fax or Tel (Telephone is available from 10:00 to 19:00) 
Access
10 minutes by bus from Karuizawa Station or 10 minutes by car from Karuizawa IC.  (Map is on hotel homepage)
Operating dates and hours Open every day of the year (sometimes closed on Tuesday in winter) 
No. of guestrooms 10 Western-style rooms (can accommodate 20 guests)
Rates and other prices JPY10,000 or more per person with breakfast (if standard double room)
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.)

The earthquakes and Karuizawa’s situation

March 16th, 2011 by
Category: Information, Miscellaneous, Report

First of all, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to all the victims of the massive earthquakes on March 11.  I can’t stop praying for the damaged areas’ soonest recovery.  I have also been touched with other countries’ concern and assistance for Japan.  

As I have received lots of inquiries about the situation in Karuizawa, let me make a quick notice here.  Karuizawa, where I live, has not been affected by the earthquakes, as announced by Karuizawa Tourist Association.  As far as I know, the life is generally normal and the companies and shops are operated.

For those who wish to have official information on Japan, here (http://www.jnto.go.jp/eq/) is the Japanese government’s “notice for overseas visitors traveling Northeastern Japan and the surrounding areas including Tokyo”.  It has comprehensive information in English.  Please be careful not to get incorrect or outdated information when you plan a trip.  If you want to know anything about individual facilities or events, I recommend you to check with that concerned party.  Many facilities are operated as normal in Nagano.

With warmest regards.

Nagano’s Pure Honey at HACHIHIGE OJISAN (Bee-Man)’s SHOP

March 9th, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Information, Miscellaneous, Report, Shopping
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From the left, honey from horse chestnut, acacia, and apple.  All made in Shinshu, which means Nagano.
 
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Famous “Hachihige Ojisan” or “Bee-Man”. What is his beard made of?

Please have a close look at the right picture above.  What is his full beard made of?  Yes, his beard is made of lots of bees! 

This man is called “Hachihige Ojisan” or “Bee-Man”, a familiar face on TV and other media.  Literally, “hachi” means “bee”, “hige” means “beard”, and “ojisan” means “man”.  He is the apiculturist (beekeeper) and president of an apiculture company called “Hachihige Ojisan Oigihara Yohoen Inc.” founded in 1936.  I visited its honey factory in a beautiful rural area in Karuizawa where Mt. Asama could be well viewed and was able to talk to him.

Ogihara Yohoen is a true professional of bees and honey in Nagano.  They grow various trees that produce flowers with sweet nectar, keep bees in beehives, gather honey, and sell a variety of honey and honey- and bee-related products.  In their vast apiaries at the foot of mountains in Nagano, there are about 1,300 beehives, each of which has about as many as 45,000 bees.  The annual honey production is approximately 30 tons on average. 

I asked Mr. Ogihara, Bee-Man, why his honey was so popular.  “One reason is that all of our honey is produced in Nagano, which is climatically and geographically ideal to produce honey, and we place great importance on safety,” he said.  “Another is that our honey is pure and natural.  It contains rich nutrition from nature as it is, so it’s good for your health.”

They have various flavors of honey depending the flowers: acacia, horse chestnut, soba (buckwheat), apples, chestnut, blueberry, cherry and many others.  If you go to their shops, you can taste honey of various flavors to decide which is your favorite.  You can get their delicious honey and other products at 8 shops (please refer to “Access” in the table below).  They welcome both individual customers and group tour customers.  It will also be fun to visit their honey farm in Saku city open to the public in limited periods.

If you are a fan of honey, I’m sure you will enjoy visiting Hachihige Ojisan Ogihara Yohoen and their shops.  Have a “sweet” time there!

 

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One of HACHIHIGE OJISAN (Bee-Man)’s SHOPs in Karuizawa. This is called Kyu-Karuizawa Chuo Shop.
 
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Taking care of bees.
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Flowers of acacia, a source of honey. Acacia honey can be widely used such as for drinks and pickles.

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The apiaries of Hachihige Ojisan Ogihara Yokoen Inc. with many beehives.

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Inside a beehive, which contains as many as about 45,000 bees.

Name of the facility Hachihige Ojisan Ogihara Yohoen Inc. (Bee-Man Ogihara Apiculture Inc.)
Description of business Production and sales of honey, royal jelly, propolis, bee larvae and other bee-related products
Tel 0267-46-5012 (Japan country code: 81)
Fax 0267-46-5052 (Japan country code: 81)
Email ogihara@ogihara832.co.jp
URL
Address 405-2, Aza-Yoshinosakashita, Oiwake, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0115, Japan
Reservations and inquiries Email or fax
Access
  • Momozawa Shop (on Route 142, Saku City)
  • Koumi Shop (on Route 141, Koumi Town)
  • Karuizawa Kyudoten Ichigo Shop (on Karuizawa Ginza Shopping Street, Karuizawa Town)
  • Karuizawa Kyudoten Nigo Shop (on Karuizawa Ginza Shopping Street, Karuizawa Town)
  • Karuizawa Chuo Shop (on Karuizawa Ginza Shopping Street, Karuizawa Town)
  • Honey Farm (Mochizuki, Saku City)
  • Karuizawa Ekimae Shop (3 mins from Karuizawa Station, Karuizawa Town)
  • Head Office and Honey Factory (Please follow a sign on Route 18, Oiwake, Karuizawa Town)
Operating dates and hours
  • Head Office and Honey Factory: Open from 9:00 to 17:00 from Mon to Fri.  (Sat and Sun: open irregulary)
  • Karuizawa Chuo Shop: Open every day of the year from 9:00 to 18:00 (time is changeable in winter)
  • The other shops: Please contact.
Rates and other prices Please contact the company.
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.)

Holiday House in Karuizawa? Interview with Karuizawa Chuo Consultant Corporation

February 17th, 2011 by
Category: Report
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One of leisure activities in green season is playing golf.  Karuizawa has a number of scenic golf courses.
 
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You can enjoy skiing anytime in winter.  When you go down the slope, Karuizawa Town and Mt. Asama will come into view.

When the Japanese hear the word “Karuizawa”, many will associate it with high-class holiday houses.  Karuizawa is one of the most famous and prestigious places in Japan to have holiday homes.  Indeed, the number of holiday houses far outnumbers that of permanent residential ones. 

Why is Karuizawa so popular to have a second house?  To find the answer to this question, I visited a real estate company called Karuizawa Chuo Consultant Corporation and interviewed with the President, Mr. Kanayama.  The company has been in operation for more than 30 years in Karuizawa.  When you want to know better about a place, it is always best to talk to a local real estate professional.  He said that having a holiday home was one option to enjoy local life and tourism to the full.  

“Karuizawa’s history as a holiday resort started with a visit by Mr. Alexander Croft Shaw, a Canadian missionary,” said Mr. Kanayama.  “He praised Karuizawa for its beautiful nature and Western-like cool climate and built the very first holiday house.  He called this land ‘a hospital without a roof’, because he thought Karuizawa’s refreshing climate and nature had a good effect on health.  And so Mr. Shaw recommended his friends to have holiday cottages here.  Karuizawa thus began to flourish as a mountain resort with many holiday homes.”

“Then what are present attractions of Karuizawa as a place to have a vacation home?” I asked.  “First of all, Karuizawa is conveniently located in terms of access, ” explained Mr. Kanayama.  “If you take Nagano Shinkansen, it takes only little more than one hour from Tokyo.  Expressways are also well connected if you come by car.  Not only Tokyo but also many popular regional tourist spots such as Kusatsu and Zenkoji Temple are within easy access.  Secondly, you will be fascinated with four distinctive seasons; spring with beautiful young leaves, cool summer, colorful autumn, and white winter.   Thirdly, there are many good places for shopping and eating, like supermarkets, a large shopping mall, and a variety of fine restaurants that serve great food.  Fourthly, Karuizawa is an ideal place to enjoy sporting activities like playing golf and skiing.  Furthermore, Karuizawa is suitable not only for private holidays but also for a variety of purposes.  One example is that many companies have their own recreation facilities for their employees and another is that Karuizawa can host domestic and international conferences.  Attractions are countless.”

I learned a lot about Karuizawa by this interview.  If you wish to know more about Karuizawa, why not visit Karuizawa Chuo Consultant Corporation?  The staff will kindly tell you a lot more.

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Beautiful rural area called “Hocchi” with a wonderful view of Mt. Asama in summer.
 
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Kumoba Pond is widely known as an autumn leaves viewing point.  Why not take a walk around the pond?
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Staff of Karuizawa Chuo Consultant Corporation. I interviewed with Mr. Kanayama (left).

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Outlook of Karuizawa Chuo Consultant Corporation located near Nakakaruizawa Station.

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Mt. Asama and Mt. Hanare viewed from Yagasaki Park. The park's lake is mostly frozen in winter.

Name of the facility Karuizawa Chuo Consulting Corporation
Description of business Real estate brokerage, survey, design
Tel 0267-45-8715 (Japan country code: 81)
Fax 0267-45-8205 (Japan country code: 81)
Email kanax.jotaro@nifty.com
URL
Address 17-11, Nakakaruizawa, Karuizawa, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano, 389-0112, Japan
Reservations and inquiries Email, fax or telephone
Access Go out of “Nakakaruizawa” Station of Shinano Tetsudo Railway and walk straight on into Route 18.  Walk 150 meters to the direction of Kasatsu, and then you’ll see Karuizawa Chuo Consulting Corporation on your left.
Operating dates and hours Open 8:30-17:30 from Mon to Fri (closed on Sat, Sun and national holidays).  Contact by phone is available 365 days a year.
Rates and other prices Please contact the company.
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.)

The Ice Sculpture Festival

February 5th, 2011 by
Category: Events, Report, Seasonal Topics

The Ice Sculpture Festival is a hot event held in the coldest season, a weekend in late-January, at Matsumoto Castle.

This year, the temperature was cold (0.3 to -7.2 degrees centigrade) enough to keep the ice sculptures in a good condition.
These are the ice sculpture works nominated for the contest.

“Dragon”

“Prometheus's Fight”


They were carved all night from 6pm in the cold outside!
You can experience Japanese ice craftsmen’s artisan spirit at this festival so this event is popular among foreigners.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Snow Monkeys!

January 20th, 2011 by
Category: Events, Experience, Information, Onsens (Hot Springs), Report, Sightseeing

You know something has reached the big time when they add a THE to the front of it; THE BEATLES, THE BODY SHOP, THE DAISO (OK, so maybe this¥100 shop is not THAT famous but anyway…) .

And (unbelievably after having been coming to Nagano for as long as I have and never once visited), the other day I finally got a chance to pay a trip to see THE Snow Monkeys!!!

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After hiking up though a snowbound cedar forest, the first bit of wildlife we saw was not a monkey after all but a Kamoshika (Japanese Serow) struggling uphill through thick powder. But a steady trail of Macaque poop told us we were on the right trail and after 30 minutes or so, we arrived at the valley directly beneath the monkey park where a bridge crosses over the river to the best (and only!) Soba noodles in the area. We climbed the final flight of stairs to the ticket gate and proceeded on to the main monkey bathing area.2-start-gate

The park itself is a curious cross between a national park, safari park and disneyland – without the trimmings. Don’t expect fancy explanations or commentary; facilities are simple, but the monkeys are very, very cute and you can get right up close to take all the pictures you want. In the main bath were around 25 of the little furry fellas,  posing for the tourists’ portraits, crapping, scrapping and wallowing in the hot spring. Apparently, there are 160+ of them altogether in the troop – they spend the night in the surrounding forest and head down to the Onsen during the day. Anyway, if you’re in the Nagano area this winter they are definitely worth a trip which can be combined with a trip to one of the amazing Onsens nearby at Yudanaka or Shibu where you can get great food, check out a traditional Onsen Town and of course relax in a hot bath WITHOUT any monkeys 🙂

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Like ’em or love ’em, The Snow Monkeys are a firm favourite on the Nagano Must-See list. See here for Access info.

Karuizawa Mampei Hotel – Classic and Luxury –

December 31st, 2010 by
Category: Accomodations, Report, Sightseeing
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Front view of Mampei Hotel in winter.  The hotel and Karuizawa are also beautiful in spring, summer and autumn.
 
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Classic guest room in Main Building Alps constructed in 1936.  Mr. John Lennon was one of the fans of this hotel. 

“Mampei Hotel” in Karuizawa is one of Japan’s representative classic resort hotels with long history and tradition in the quiet greenery setting.  It started operation in 1894 as a western-style hotel, but its predecessor, a Japanese-style inn, dates back to 1764.  What is good about this hotel is that while it has atmosphere of good old days, we can enjoy a comfortable stay with functional amenities and friendly customer service at the same time.

Mampei Hotel has been loved by many prominent guests domestically and internationally.  Mr. John Lennon spent four summers from 1976 to 1979 in this hotel.   John seemed to enjoy his relaxing holidays with his Japanese wife and loving son in Karuizawa.  In 1972 the then Prime Minister Tanaka and the then U.S. Presidential Assistant Kissinger had a meeting in Sakurano-ma Room of this hotel.  From 1945 to 1952, the post-war period, Mampei Hotel was seized by the U.S. eighth Army and accommodated American officers.  In accordance with its tradition to welcome foreign guests, some of the staff still now receive English lauguage and culture training to improve their skills.

It has several types of guest rooms and independent cottages, so you can choose a room of your taste.  If you plan to come to Karuizawa for a one-day trip, you can still enjoy fine food and drink in the restaurants and the cafe in the hotel.   

The hotel is usually closed from the end of January to the beginning of March, so please check the latest information.  I’m sure you will have a memorable stay every season.

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In the luxurious Main Dining Room, guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner.  This room
was once used as a dance hall in old days.
 
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Why not enjoy your special night in Japan in the hotel bar with atmosphere? 
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Stained glass shows old-time Karuizawa, which used to have 3 resting stations along Route Nakasendo in Edo era.

 

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Juicy beef hamburger steak with tasty sauce served with vegetables (serving style can be changed).

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Delicious and fresh omelet, toast with hotel's original jam and butter, coffee, etc. in breakfast.

Name of the facility Mampei Hotel
Address 925, Karuizawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0102, Japan
Access
  • About 4 minutes (about 2 km) by taxi from “Karuizawa” station of JR Nagano Shinkansen or Shinano Tetsudo (Shinano Railway). 
  • From Tokyo to Karuizawa it takes about 70 minutes by JR Nagano Shinkansen.
Operating dates and hours
  • Open daily except for winter closing period (in case of 2011, closure is from Jan 23 to the noon of Mar 4). 
  • [Restaurants] Main Dining Room (French and western cuisine) / Manzanro (Chinese cuisine) / Cafe Terrace (coffee, snack, cakes) / Yugyoan (Kyoto-style Japanese cuisine.  Seasonally open) / Bar.  Please check the latest opening dates and hours for each.  The restaurants are at least closed during the hotel closing period above.
Room Rates [In case of 2010] JPY 22,200 or more per twin room.  There are several types of value packages that include room rate, dinner, breakfast, etc.  Please check the latest information.
TEL 0267-42-1234 (Japan country code: 81)
FAX 0267-42-7766 (Japan country code: 81)
URL http://mampei.co.jp/ (Top page)www.mampei.co.jp/room_reserve/index_english.html (English)
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.) 

Matsushiro Day Trip

December 7th, 2010 by
Category: Cuisine, Culture Art, Experience, Information, Onsens (Hot Springs), Report, Sightseeing

   Matsushiro is one of Nagano’s hidden gems, located in the south part of Nagano city conveniently close to the Interchange. This historic castle town has a wealth of cultural and historical assets ranging from vintage samurai residences to WWII tunnels. The area is also famous for its beautiful blue folk ceramics, known as Matsushiro-yaki.

   This castle town ‘built from 100,000 stones,’ was the domain of the Sanada family, a samurai clan which ruled for 250 years from 1622 until just after the collapse of the Tokguawa Bakufu in 1868. We visited last Saturday, and lucked out with the weather but not with the rentacycles – apparently they go into hibernation from December.

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   First we visited the museum where many of the Sanada family treasures are on public view, including samurai armour, swords and calligraphy. Then we visited the Samurai residence, built for his mother by the 9th generation lord. The tatami rooms and sliding doors still carry the vestiges of a bygone era and it wasn’t hard to imagine Lord Sanada taking his tea looking out over the carefully landscaped garden.

   Next we stopped off at the Bunbu Gakko, a set of original classrooms dating back to 1855 where martial arts skills as well as brains were once honed at the school. Lessons on the curriculum included Kendo and Jujutsu, as well as Chinese studies and Dutch (the official language for communicating with aliens at the time!). The halls are still used today for Kendo and Kyudo tournaments.

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   Last stop before lunch was the WWII tunnels, an impressive network of about 13,100 meters of underground tunnel which was blasted out of the rock towards the end of the war by conscripted Korean laborers. The Bushido ethic of the time made it impossible for some sections of the Imperial Japanese Army to contemplate surrender, and the Underground Headquarters were part of a desperate plan to evacuate key institutions, including the imperial family, government, and military HQ, in the face of the imminent American invasion.

 

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   Next stop was a local lunch of nagaimo, a Matsushiro specialty which turned out to be a type of yam, mashed into paste. Matsushiro is a major nagaimo growing area, as the sandy soil along the Chikuma River is perfect for growing them. Then we headed on to the day’s main attraction…a Kimono experience! The Ecole de Matsushiro Club offers lessons in a range of Japanese traditional arts such as tea ceremony, flower arrangement and traditional musical instruments and we had timed it just right for a Kimono workshop complete with Origami lesson!

 

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Finally, it was time for the last stop of the day, at Matsushiro Onsen, a luxury hot spring resort which used natural spa waters to heat the bath. The high iron and salt content turns the water a muddy-brown colour and makes for a memorable Onsen experience.

Samurai Costume Parade

November 15th, 2010 by
Category: Events, Report


Every year Nov 3 is the day of Matsumoto Citizen’s Festival and Matsumoto Castle Festival.
The main event of the festivals is a samurai warrior costume parade held in the afternoon.
It starts at Matsumoto Castle, parades around downtown, and comes back to the castle two hours later.
This year I had a chance to watch it.
More than 200 people including boys and girls walked slowly in front of modern buildings. Some boys and girls were dressed as cute ninjas.

Ninjas

Girl warriors

Girl warriors


Read the rest of this entry »

from Hong Kong…to Kamikochi!

October 20th, 2010 by
Category: Events, Experience, Information, Outdoor Activities, Report, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

Although the Ozzies bagged the No.2 spot for inbound overnight stays in Nagano Prefecture last year (thanks to the colony of snow bums camped out in Hakuba:)  the vast majority of overseas visitors are still from East Asia. Taiwan claimed top spot – AGAIN! – in 2009 and Hong Kong came in No.3., so I was glad of the chance to join a recent tour of some of Hong Kong’s top journalists to visit Kamikochi and get an Asian perspective on the Nagano inbound scene.

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Kamikochi was looking at its most picturesque, with the mountains reflected in the still pondwater of Taisho-ike. Also, we were able to enjoy a Guided tour, with colourful explanations of the plantlife and local legends (do YOU know where the secret tennis court is?!?)

After a loop hike to Myojin, and a meeting with the wild monkeys, we stopped for Lunch by Kappa Bridge then headed on back down to Taisho where the sun was dropping down behind the volcano.

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