Karuizawa Taliesin

August 29th, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Culture Art, Events, Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Outdoor Activities, Report, Seasonal Topics, Shopping, Sightseeing
Autumn leaves on the shores of Lake Shiozawa.
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?

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

Inside of the Literary Museum of Karuizawa.



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



"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
Operating dates and hours Open from 9:00 to 17:00 (10:00 to 16:00 in winter).
  • Park admission: JPY800 (adults), JPY400 (elementary and junior high).
  • Park and Museums combination ticket: JPY1,500 (adults), JPY800 (elementary and junior high).
  • 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.)

Glass Studio KARUIZAWA

August 26th, 2011 by
Category: Culture Art, Events, Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Report, Shopping, Sightseeing
Beautiful blown glasses.  Why don’t you make your own glass? (Glass Blowing Course) 
Blowing a glass. (Glass Blowing Course)

One good way to make your travel more memorable and fulfilling is that you “create” something at the destination.  Today I would like to introduce “Glass Studio KARUIZAWA”, which provides various glass-making courses.  You can bring your work home, so it will become a wonderful souvenir.

Their recommended course is “Glass Blowing Course”.  In this class you will make your only glass existing in the world by choosing your favorite colors and shapes.   

They have several glass decorating courses, too.  In “Engraving Course”, you will engrave a glass with a diamond drill.  In “Sandblasting Course”, you will depict pictures by sandblasting that creates a frosted look.  In “Painting Course”, you will illustrate a glass using paint.

“Candle Making Course” is also popular.  You will make your own candle by putting transparent gel wax and lovely small glass objects into a candle.

Karuizawa is a place where many artists choose for their creative activities.  I’m sure your glass making experience will be a great memory of Karuizawa.


Glasses with sandblasted finish. (Sandblasting Course)
Glass candles with transparent gel wax and glass objects inside. (Candle Making Course)

Children working during a sandblasting course.


Glasses shining in the dark with accumulated light (option).


Outlook of the studio.

Name of the facility Glass Studio KARUIZAWA
Description of business Offering glass blowing and decorating courses.  Selling glass works.
Tel 0267-48-0881 (Japan country code: 81)
Fax 0267-48-0881 (Japan country code: 81)
Email karuizawaglass@nifty.com
Address 664-9, Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0111, Japan
How to contact Reservation accepted by telephone. (Email also accepted)
  • From Karuizawa Station: 7 minutes by car or 20 minutes by bike.
  • From Nakakaruizawa Station: 5 minutes by car or 10 minutes by bike.
  • From Usui Karuizawa I.C. of JOSHIN-ETSU EXPRESSWAY: 10 minutes by car (parking space available).
Operating hours
  • Golden Week Holidays (end of April to beginning of May, changeable yearly), July, August and September: Open every day from 9:00 to 19:00.
  • Other periods than above: Closed on Wednesday and Thursday.  Open from 10:00 to 18:00.
Rates and other prices
  • Glass Blowing Course: From JPY3,300
  • Various Glass Decorating Courses (including painting, sandblasting and engraving): From JPY1,500
  • Candle Making Course: From JPY1,250
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.

Musee Le Vent (museum in Karuizawa)

July 16th, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Culture Art, Events, Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Shopping, Sightseeing


From 2011 exhibition.
“Kao” (Face) by Masanari Murai.
From 2011 exhibition.
“Soratobuie” (Flying house)
by Yoji Kuri.

“Musee Le Vent” is a museum in Karuizawa related to a school called Bunka Gakuin.  The museum building is a reproduction of Bunka Gakuin’s school building at the time of foundation in 1921.  Designed by Isaku Nishimura, the school founder and the artist, the museum is in the British cottage style with a beautiful garden, from which you can see Mt. Asama well.

The museum offers two exhibitions, one with its permanent collection and the other with a themed special collection.  The permanent exhibition includes works of Isaku Nishimura and of artists related to Bunka Gakuin, such as Kaoru Yamaguchi, the painter, and Akiko Yosano, the poet.  As for the special exhibition, the theme of the year 2011 is “Flowering of Individuality — small and good things (Isaku Nishimura’s words) —“.  The special exhibition is now showing works of graduates of Bunka Gakuin, who became first-class artists after graduation, such as Masanari Murai, Yoji Kuri and Setsu Nagasawa.

I would like to add that the museum has a very nice cafe that has a spacious terrace facing the charming lawn garden.  You can enjoy great food, cakes and drinks.  The cafe and the neighboring museum shop can be entered without museum admission tickets, so you can drop in and enjoy relaxing time anytime.   The museum also holds several concerts in August.  Why not come to Karuizawa to spend a wonderful time in Musee Le Vent this summer and autumn? 

Musee Le Vent is located in the quiet greenery setting in the southern part of Karuizawa.
A menu from Cafe Le Vent. The quiche with smoked salmon and asparagus is delicious.

Museum shop Le Vent sells a selection of art goods.



From 2011 exhibition. "Aoitaitsude" (In blue tights) by Setsu Nagasawa.


The rice omelet is a popular menu at Le Vent Cafe.

Name of the facility Musee Le Vent
Description of business Museum, shop, cafe
Tel 0267-46-1911 / 03-3401-8896 (Tokyo office)
Fax 0267-46-1910 / 03-3401-8896 (Tokyo office)
Email info@levent.or.jp
Address 957-10, Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0111, Japan
How to contact Tel, fax or email.
Access 15 minutes by taxi from Karuizawa Station of JR Nagano Shinkansen or Shinano Tetsudo (Shinano Railway) or 5 minutes by taxi from Nakakaruizawa Station of Shinano Tetsudo. 12 kilometers from Usui Karuizawa Interchange.
Operating hours 10:00 – 17:00 from the mid June to the beginning of November.  Closed on Wednesday (no closure from July 15 to September 15).
Rates and other prices [Admission to the museum]

  • Adults: JPY800
  • University and senior high students: JPY600
  • Junior high and elementary students: JPY400

* Discount available for groups of 15 or more and for the disabled.

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.)

Anti Aging Experience in Karuizawa with SPAKARU

July 5th, 2011 by
Category: Report, Shopping
Anti Aging Possibility Check is held in this spacious salon. From the windows you can enjoy a beautiful view of green leaves.
“How can I do self-care?” It’s natural for anyone to imitate others in the beginning. You don’t have to learn completely. Self-care Beauty Lesson gives you an opportunity to start taking care of your skin by yourself.

Why don’t you get “Anti Aging Possibility Check” in Karuizawa?  You will see how much you can grow younger with natural herbs at a beauty salon “Hanakaoru Karuizawa”. 

 For example:

— Lymph care can lift your bust without touching your bust. 

— Leg massage can lift your hips without touching your hips.

— Head skin treatment can lift your face, which makes you look 5 to 10 years younger.

The above is realized with SPAKARU, natural cosmetics using herbs grown in Nagano.  Once you get the know-how for anti aging, you’ll be able to try it anytime by yourself at home.  If you come to Karuizawa, I recommend you to experience “Anti Aging Possibility Check” that gives you great effect with low price!


Lineup of “SPAKARU” cosmetics using rich herbs and ocean minerals. The aromas are gentle and natural, and yet they have good effect on users.
Left: Before “Anti Aging Possibility Check”, Right: After the check. Only 3-minute self-care has this great effect! 

Please enjoy herb tea with freshly-picked herbs.


The herb farm for research of SPAKARU, spreading at 1,100 meters above sea level in the foothills of Mt. Asama in Karuizawa.


At the herb farm about 300 kinds of herbs are grown for research. Thanks to clean air and plentiful morning dew, natural herbs with rich aroma are produced.

Name of the facility Salon’s name: Hanakaoru Karuizawa (U. Story Co., Ltd.)
Description of business
  • SPAKARU treatment for solving problems on beauty, such as “Anti Aging Possibility Check” and “Head Spa for Solving Hair Problems like Hair Growth”
  • Self-care Beauty Lesson (lesson for beauty care you can do by yourself at home)
  • Sales of SPAKARU cosmetics 
Tel 0267-44-1787 (Japan country code: 81)
Fax 0267-44-1797 (Japan country code: 81)
Email e-shop@spa-karuizawa.jp
Address 355-14, Oiwake, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0115, Japan
How to contact Tel, fax or email.
Access 20 minutes by taxi from Karuizawa Station of JR Nagano Shinkansen or Shinano Tetsudo (Shinano Railway) or 5 minutes by taxi from Shinanooiwake Station of Shinano Tetsudo. Please call us when you arrive at the station.
Operating hours Open from 10:00 – 17:00 on weekdays. Open every other Saturday (Please contact).
Rates and other prices [Main Products]

  • Herb Essence (50ml x 2): JPY8,400
  • Herb Cream Luxury (10g): JPY10.500
  • Herb Water Spray (100ml): JPY3,675
  • Shampoo Luxury (200ml): JPY 3,675

[SPAKARU Treatment] (Reservation Essential)

  • Anti Aging Possibility Check (20 minutes): JPY2,500
  • Head Spa (30 minutes): JPY5,800
  • Body (30 minutes) Basic: JPY6,800, Special: JPY15,000
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.)

SAWAYA’s Fresh Jam in Karuizawa

May 2nd, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Report, Shopping
Hulling strawberries by human hands.  SAWAYA offers start-to-finish production of jam.
Fresh strawberries in a large caldron in the jam factory.

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

“Jam” is one of the most popular souvenirs of Karuizawa.  In the end of the 19th century, Westerners living in Japan, many of whom were Christian missionaries, started to live in Karuizawa during summer.  Karuizawa’s summer is cool (the max temperature seldom exceeds 30 degrees Celsius), so foreign residents came here to escape from Japan’s hot and humid summer.  During their stay, they taught European culture and techniques to Karuizawa’s local residents.  Jam is said to be one of such techniques conveyed from foreign residents. 

Today I would like to introduce a famous jam production and sales company called SAWAYA to you.  SAWAYA, started as a greengrocer’s in 1952, is proud of start-to-finish production of jam at their own factory.  They use only domestic fresh fruits harvested at their best in each season.  Their jam, made without additives, ranked No.1 in the “Breakfast Jam Ranking” of Nikkei, a prestigious newspaper.  If you go to SAWAYA shops, you’ll be surprised by a huge variety of jam flavors.  According to the staff, the most popular flavor is strawberry, the second blueberry, and the third orange marmalade.  They also offer jam making experience programs.  It will be a good memory if you join one.

SAWAYA runs restaurants, too.  At Restaurant “CoDow” surrounded by trees, you can enjoy French food in a nice atmosphere.  At SAWAYA CAFE and Kyu-Karuizawa Cafe, snacks like Russian piroshki and drinks are served.  And on April 28th 2011, a brand-new bakery cafe called “Patisserie et Cafe fleur fleur” has just opened.  You can buy or eat sweets, bread or some meals there.  

The writer (me) is also an old fan of SAWAYA and likes to give the jam to friends and families as Karuizawa’s specialty.  When you come to Karuizawa, please don’t miss it! 


From left, strawberry jam, blueberry jam, orange marmalade. They are just a few of SAWAYA’s large collection of flavors.
Restaurant “CoDow”, a casual French restaurant, is spacious and surrounded by trees.

Piroshki, a Russian-style fried meat bun, is a popular menu at cafes.


Beautiful sweets with fresh ingredients. Available at "fleur fleur", etc.


A variety of bread at "fleur fleur". Why not take a rest during sightseeing?

Name of the facility SAWAYA
Description of business Production and sales of jam, restaurants 
Tel 0267-46-2400 (Japan country code: 81)
Fax 0267-46-2404 (Japan country code: 81)
Email info@sawaya-jam.com
Address 702, Shiozawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0111, Japan
Reservations and inquiries Please contact by fax or email.
Access Map is available on SAWAYA’s website.

  • Sawaya Bypass Shop (Restaurant “CoDow”, Patisserie et Cafe “fleur fleur”, jam shop): Along R18 Bypass. 5 mins by taxi from Karuizawa Station.
  • Kyukaruizawa Shop and Cafe: Near Karuizawa Ginza Shopping Street.
  • Kyukaru Rotary Shop: Along Karuizawa Ginza Shopping Street.
  • SAWAYA CAFE: Along Karuizawa Ginza Shopping Street.
  • Shin-Karuizawa Shop: 5 mins on foot from Karuizawa Station North Exit.
  • Prince Dori Shop: Along Prince Dori (or Prince Street). 8 mins on foot from Karuizawa Station South Exit.
  • SAWAYA Jam Factory: 20 mins by taxi from Karuizawa Station. 
  • Karuizawa Station Shop: Near the ticket gates at Karuizawa Station.
Operating hours
  • Jam shops are open throughout the year from 9:00 to 19:00 (time changeable in winter).
  • Restaurant “CoDow”: Open every day in July and August.  For other months, closed on Tuesdays.  Possible winter closure.
  • Patisserie et cafe “fleur fleur”: Newly opened on April 28, 2011. Closed on Thursdays.
Room type and capacity
Rates and other prices
  • Jam: Different prices
  • Jam Making Experience Program: JPY2,800 (including factory tour), JPY3,850 (including afternoon tea, JPY2,500 for children), JPY5,250 (including multi-course lunch, JPY3,150 for children)
  • Restaurant “CoDow”: Set lunch from JPY1,420
  • SAWAYA CAFE: Piroshki JPY280, blueberry soft ice cream JPY400
  • Patisserie et Cafe “Fleur Fleur”: Bread from JPY100, Brunch from JPY800, Lunch from JPY900
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.)

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

March 9th, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Information, Miscellaneous, Report, Shopping
From the left, honey from horse chestnut, acacia, and apple.  All made in Shinshu, which means Nagano.
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!


One of HACHIHIGE OJISAN (Bee-Man)’s SHOPs in Karuizawa. This is called Kyu-Karuizawa Chuo Shop.
Taking care of bees.

Flowers of acacia, a source of honey. Acacia honey can be widely used such as for drinks and pickles.


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


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
Address 405-2, Aza-Yoshinosakashita, Oiwake, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0115, Japan
Reservations and inquiries Email or fax
  • 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.)

Atmospheric Streets in Matsumoto

February 6th, 2011 by
Category: Information, Miscellaneous, Shopping
Nawate street near the castle
Nawate street near the castle

Ever since I visited a flea market for secondhand kimono in mid January at Fukashi Shrine in Matsumoto, I have had my heart set on a certain secondhand kimono at a recycle shop on Nakamachi Dori street.

To cut a long story short, I went back to Matsumoto the other day only to find the kimono had been sold, alas!!
By the way, I bet there are some visitors to Japan who would like to purchase a kimono, but retreat because of its eye-rolling price.
I would recommend  recycle kimono shops to such visitors.
I myself make it a hobby to browse those shops occasionally. They usually handle the fabric nicely, and the prices are often less than 10% of ordinarily ordered kimonos.
OK, so much for my pitiful experience.
There are two little nice streets in front of Matsumoto castle; Nakamachi Dori street and Nawate Dori street.
Ougi-ya confectionary

Okina-do confectionary

First I took a walk on Nakamachi Dori street, and peeked in a little Scale Museum along the street.
There they exhibit various kinds of scales from several hundreds ago.
The staff advised me to peek in to Okina-do confectinary to see their old storehouse, or Kura  in japanese word.
So I ventured in to the confectionary, and a lady there kindly showed me the restored old warehouse in their backyard.
traditional japanese sweets as well as chocolates are sold in reasonable prices

traditional japanese sweets as well as chocolates are sold in reasonable prices

http://www.mcci.or.jp/www/okinado/index01.htm  This is the confectuonary’s HP in Japanese.
the entrance to the Kura, warehouse

the entrance to the Kura, warehouse

In their backyard, there is a nicely restored Kura, warehouse.
Inside the kura, there are junky treasures!
From daily used utensils of some 100 years ago, old day tools for making the typical Japanese confectioneries, to a collection of the Kiso Yoshinaka warrior which happens to be the historical  interest of the confectionary owner.
To tell you a bit complicated situation, the fact is,
Okina-do confectionary has its own shop/factory at a place nearer to the castle, and they rent this place along with the kura to hold the branch shop here.
The landlord has a zeal in restoring old style warehouses, and thus they jointly work to preserve old Kuras.
Nakamachi Dori street has many such nice shops. Explore the street one shop by another would be a nice experience.
http://www.mcci.or.jp/www/nakamati/ This is a Japanese language HP for the street.
Aside from the Nakamachi Dori street and cross the Metoba river, you come across a smaller scale, cozy Nawate Dori street.
There are much junkier taste antique shops and eateries.
http://www.nawate.net/  Also a Japanese language HP for the Nawate Dori street.
locals incessantly ring the bell and pray at this shrine

locals incessantly ring the bell and pray at this shrine at the entrance of the street

Ueda City’s “Can’t Miss” Eateries

December 8th, 2010 by
Category: Cuisine, Shopping

Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture’s third largest city, has a central “downtown” core just up from the main station.  It has narrow cobblestone-like side streets with interesting nooks and crannies that beg to be explored.  Amongst them are two “can’t miss” shops that arguably define Ueda City.

Ueda's venerable "Katana-ya" Soba Shop

Ueda's venerable "Katana-ya" Soba Shop

First is a soba restaurant with a 300-year history, “Katana-ya“. This place has been a restaurant longer than the country of my birth — the United States — has been a country! The very first time I came to Nagano, I was treated to a lunch at this venerable noodle shop; that was my introduction to the famous buckwheat noodles of Nagano. Katana-ya remains popular with the locals to this day, and is known for the large volume of their soba dishes. Come to think of it, that’s probably why my host at the time choose Katana-ya (she probably figured my over-sized body came with an over-sized appetite).

Lining up for Jiman-yaki

Lining up for Jiman-yaki

After shopping in the area, we finished up at Ueda’s main shopping arcade, “Unnomachi”, to buy “Jiman-yaki” pastries at Fuji Ice. While the shop does sell ice cream, their main attraction are their little pastries filled with custard creme or adzuki bean paste.  Their tasty creations tend to attract a line of customers. Apparently the shop had just been featured on TV recently, so the normally long line of people was extra long today, so many customers that the street out front was turning into the shop’s private parking lot.

Anyways, a lot of our tourists stop in Ueda to check out the castle and get a taste of the city’s samurai history. I highly suggest taking a walk around the core shopping area, with a visit to Katana-ya if you’re hungry (really hungry) for soba, and/or joining the line at the pastry shop in Unnojuku.

New Gourmet Guide and Walking Map for Onsen Town Togura Kamiyamada

July 23rd, 2010 by
Category: Accomodations, Cuisine, Culture Art, Onsens (Hot Springs), Outdoor Activities, Shopping, Sightseeing

Onsen Town Togura Kamiyamada has a new Gourmet Guide and Walking Map in English.  20 different restaurants representing a wide variety of budgets and cuisine are listed, with full color pictures and helpful descriptions, along with 7 of their menu items translated into English for you.  There are also indications showing which restaurants accept credit cards, are no-smoking, have vegetarian menus, and provide western-style sitting.

The New Onsen Town Togura Kamiyamada Gourmet Guide and Walking Map

The New Onsen Town Togura Kamiyamada Gourmet Guide and Walking Map

The map side features descriptions of 21 shops and businesses, giving guests an idea of places to check out when they visit our onsen town.   The map shows locations for a coin laundry, convenience stores with ATM’s, a pharmacist and medical clinic as well as a church with service in English, so guests from overseas will know their various needs are covered.  As travellers from abroad often like to walk and enjoy the outdoors, the map mentions walking times and distances between major points and shows where rental bicycles are available.

So on your trip to Togura Kamiyamada, stop in at the Visit Japan Information Center aka Kamesei Ryokan (www.kamesei.jp) and we will be glad to give you your own personal copy of the new Onsen Town Togura Kamiyamada Gourmet Guide and Walking Map.

Unique Souvenirs from Onsen Town Togura Kamiyamada

July 9th, 2010 by
Category: Onsens (Hot Springs), Shopping

When travelling abroad, it’s tempting to buy some souvenirs for the folks back home, or for yourself as a momento from your trip.   But finding the right item can be tricky.  You want something made locally rather than mass produced in some other country.   And you want something compact so as not to take up room in your pack.  Well, here in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, we are fortunate to have 4 local shops producing some pretty unique items.  Guests to our onsen town can enjoy shopping for these 4 locally-made items:

Manju, Miso, Kanroni and Pottery:  Togura Kamiyamada Onsen's Unique Souvenirs

Manju, Miso, Kanroni and Pottery: Togura Kamiyamada Onsen's Unique Souvenirs

Sasasuzu Manju with the Rokumonsen Mark
You can find manju pastries with the purple adzuki bean paste inside at pretty much any onsen town, but you can only find manju with the Rokumonsen mark of the local Sanada samurai family at Sasasuzu here in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen. You can also try your hand at branding the manju yourself with a hot branding iron. Baked freshly every day, so they are extra delicious. On Ginza Dori. Tel(026)275-1228.

Shimaya Kanroni Marinated River Fish
Nagano Prefecture doesn’t have an ocean, so river fish are an important part of the local cuisine. Shimaya takes ayu, the main fish from the Chikuma River, as well as wakasagi and haya, two other local types of river fish, and marinates them in a sweet sauce “kanroni” style. You can see how the kanroni process is done when visiting their shop, as well as try a sample of some of their creations. They are constantly making new batches, so if you’re lucky you can try some just-made kanroni, too. The kanroni is available for sale in take-home vacuum packs. On Ginza Dori. Tel(026)275-1175.

Nakajima Miso’s “Homare” Label Shinshu Miso.
Shinshu, the classic name for Nagano, is one of Japan’s major producers of soybeans. So the prefecture has naturally become known for the quality of its miso paste, Shinshu Miso. Here in Togura Kamiyamada, we have our own maker of Shinshu Miso, Nakajima Miso. In their showroom and shop at the front of their factory, you can sample the different types of miso they make, as well as see some of the antique tools frpm their trade that they have on display. Be sure to try the shoyu mame, a local variety of processed soybeans. On Ginza Dori. Tel(026)275-1069.

Sarashina-Yaki Pottery at Takaraya
Our local pottery style, sarashina-yaki, has a distinct blue color resulting from the ash of applewood from the local orchards. Takaraya is a small, chic shop displaying lots of the beautiful sarashina-yaki pottery as well as Ueda Shishi lion wood carvings and wood block prints by local artist Mori Bakuro. At the western entrance of Ginza Dori. Tel(026)275-0778. Hours from 8am to 7pm.

So if you’re hunting for some souvenirs from your trip to Japan, items that you can only find here, come to Togura Kamiyamada Onsen and enjoy our unique shops. 

ACCESS:  Togura Station on the Shinano Railway line.  For information on Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, see www.onsentown.net.