Nagano Prefecture’s Chikuma City is Japan’s #1 apricot growing region.
The fruit on our apricot tree here at Kamesei Ryokan’s is almost ripe. For 2019, apricot picking season should start around 22-June and continue to early July.
Have you ever had the pleasure of eating a tart, freshly picked apricot? Come to Chikuma City and visit an apricot orchard and experience eating a fresh apricot yourself. And/or stay at one of the many inns or hotels here in Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada and we’ll gladly arrange an orchard visit for you.
In Japanese, apricot is called “Anzu” (杏). The heritage varieties are especially tart and are best used for making jam or dried apricots. But some of the newer varieties such as ‘harcot’ are sweeter and are perfect for eating right off the tree. Apricots don’t store well, so it’s best to eat them fresh!
Two recent guests from España made good use of Shinano Railway’s new Banzai Pass which provides 2 days of travel all the way from Karuizawa to Myoko Kogen. They spent 2 nights here at Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada and used the pass for a day trip to Karuizawa yesterday and are using it today to go to Nagano for a side trip to see the snow monkeys.
The pass is 2000 yen and can be purchased by people with a foreign passport. Skiiers staying at Akakura / Myoko Kogen could use the pass for a day trip to Zenkoji Temple (Nagano Station) and/or our Onsen Town (Togura Station).
Banzai Pass details: http://banzai-pass.com/
Arato-jo is a mountaintop fortress overlooking the Chikuma River Valley and present-day Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada. The rice fields down in the valley are in their golden glory, just a couple of weeks away from harvest. Just one of the beautiful scenes awaiting you if you visit Nagano in the fall.
Info on Arato-jo Fortress: http://www.onsentown.net/interests/arato-jo-castle The castle is a 30-minute walk uphill from the onsen town. The trailhead is reachable by bus from Togura Station on the Shinano Railway line.
Cities and towns throughout Nagano put on fireworks displays in summer. It’s a great excuse to wear a colorful yukata (summer kimono) and enjoy the relatively cool evening ambience. The grand-daddy is the Lake Suwa Hanabi festival, held every year on 15-August. It boasts over 40,000 fireworks reflecting in the lake surface. Then in early September, a separate display featuring a competition of Hanabi-shi (professional pyrotechnics) takes place. For details, see the official website.
Below is a picture of this year’s Chikuma River Fireworks Festival at Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada. It’s about the 1/4th the size of Lake Suwa’s, but is an area favorite because the viewing are is so close to the action and the sound reverbrates off the surrounding hillsides, making for a very dynamic display. The grand-finale includes a cascading ‘Niagara’ of fireworks along the upriver bridge (to the right in the picture). It is held every year on the 7th of August. (Photo is actually by my son, Andy, taken from the Kannon-ji Temple on the castle hill behind town.)