In the center of Togura Kamiyamada Onsen is a small little park with a really long name: “Mizu to Midori to Uruoi Koen” which roughly means “Water and Nature and Moisture Park”. In the middle is a cute koi pond with a stone bridge to the island with its shrine to the water god. You can weave in and out of the tall trees as you walk around the pond, then take a rest at the wooden gazebo. And since this park isn’t in any old town, it’s in Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada, there is a spot to drink the onsen water (the minerals are good for your health!) as well as the new Kara-Koro Footbath, to soak your feet in the soothing onsen. The biggest feature of the park is across from the grassy lawn — the impressively huge, wooden Noh theater.
It gets used for events throughout the year, such as the Halloween Party. And now, this summer it will see some action twice a week. The Bijoren ladies is a group of traditional Japanese dancers (“Buyo”). They have been praciticing every Sunday night, and for the summer they will move their practice to the Noh stage so that anyone and everyone can enjoy watching. Practices start around 7:30pm.
Also, every Wednesday night, the Kamiyamada Kagura Preservation Group will hold their lion dance practice at the stage starting at 8pm. The lion dance troupe Wednesday night sessins are low-key practices, not full performances, so you can interact up close and personally with the members. They typically held their practices at an area community center, but this summer and through October, they will be helping to liven up the onsen town by bringing their traditional arts to the Noh Stage. Come and check it out!
Access: Togura Station on the Shinano Railway line. For more information on Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, check out www.onsentown.net.