JAPOW! Part5

Just Another Morning of Commute, Part 2

Another morning with a foot of snow fell overnight, a local snow clearer getting busy from before-dawn for us to be able to drive through these roads.

It is quite a common sight to see in the morning in snowy regions of Japan.

In case you have not seen anything like this, here’s a video of just another morning for us.

Enjoy!

New Video, View From My Window

Watching the seasons changing

I was fortunate enough to see the seasons change, from late Autumn to winter here in Nagano.

I captured a bit of “A different day, A different weather” from my window during my stay at Ryuoo Ski Park so let me share those moments with you here.

Hope you’ll enjoy this video!

JAPOW! Part4

This is a video of just another morning of commute by a car, through the walls of snow on sides.

I’m in a van so my viewpoint is slightly higher than a normal car.

These walls of snow are just getting higher and higher…

Trust me, there used to be a bamboo bush all around!

Hope you’ll enjoy!

JAPOW! Part3

It’s not unusual for you to see locals clearing snow in front of their properties using this type of small snow prowlers in the snowy region of Japan.

I do want one if I ever live in a place like Yamanouchi.

So cool, aye!

Enjoy the video.

Yudanaka before and after snow

Right now the very strong cold front has been over the majority of the main island as well as Hokkaido, the northern island for the last few days that has been bringing lots and lots of snow. (This post was written in Mid-January, 2017)

I have been lucky enough to have spent some time in this area since Mid-November, 2016. That time has allowed me to see the seasons change from Autumn to Winter in this beautiful part of Japan.

Here I just want to share with you some of my photo collection to show you how different it looks with and without snow.

These changes have occurred between November and January.

1, This is a rental shop up on Ryuoo Ski Park

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2, Just outside Yudanaka Station when you look to your right

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3, Yudanaka Station from the front

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4, A street with no name just outside Yudanaka Station

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5, A restaurant outside Yudanaka Station

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I’m not saying that you can always see the snow and scenery like this with snow but one thing for sure.

In this part of Japan, when it snows, it really snows.

I’m pretty sure Snow Monkeys must be staying hot water for your viewing pleasure to stay warm on a day like this.

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Nagano Dewa Yukiga Takusan Hurimasu 長野では雪がたくさん降ります = It snows a lot in Nagano

Listen and keep practising so you can have a chat with locals!

Obuse town 小布施

A little excursion away from Yudanaka

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In my opinion, you need half day (2-4 hours) for this.

Where is it?

Obuse 小布施 is a very small town, 10km Southwest of Yudanaka.

How to get there?

It’s 20min train ride on an Express Train from Yudanaka.

Fare= ¥690 (¥590 Normal Fare + ¥100 Express Train Fee)

There is an express train, either Snow Monkey スノーモンキー or Yukemuri ゆけむり pretty much every hour from Yudanaka Station.

Here’s the Link to Nagaden Timetable

Things To Do

This is a very small town with many traditionally-built wooden houses confined in a small area.

Also famous as a region to produce chestnut, Kuri くり in Japanese. So you will see lots of sweet shops used locally produced chestnuts.

Also, I found 2 Sake Breweries in this town if you are into it.

Masuichi Ichimura 桝一市村酒造場

Inside they have a small bar counter where you can try their sake.

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Matsubaya Honten 松葉屋本店 (Their website is only in Japanese)

This place was purely for retail and didn’t see any tasting area nor service.

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There was also a wine shop called “St Cousair” where I could try bit of wine tasting for ¥400/glass. I tried a white wine called, “Niagara Blanc” which is very sweet and muscat like. In here they also sell lots of Tomato based products, spices, cheese pasta and jams.

I think the owner has been heavily influenced by France/Italy and you can easily see that once you go inside.

St Cousair (Their website is in Japanese only)

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What I have been told is that in Nagano there has been a surge of new vineyards for the last 10-20 years.

In the past it was too cold to grow grapes in this part of Japan, but along with Global Warming and improvements on modifying grape seeds there has been multiple small vineyards springing up in this region.

You’ll never know, Nagano could be a major destination for wine tourism in near future.

So if you have a bit of time available in your hands, a little break from skiing or snowboarding, or on a rainy day, it could be an option to explore a bit more in this region.

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Osake Wa Oisi Desu お酒は美味しいです=Sake tastes good.

Yes that’s so true! Keep trying!

How to find Nagaden @ Nagano Station

Changing trains at Nagano Station to get to Yudanaka

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It’s pretty simple.

If you’ve arrived at Nagano Station by one of those JR line, like Shinkansen=Bullet Train, head out to the Zenkouji Exit 善光寺口 first.

You should be able to find one of many signs pointing directions which way Zenkouji Exit is.

Once you found which way you need to go to, go downstairs then you’ll see these to your right.

 

There is a Starbucks and the bus terminal once outside on this side of the station.

Also, along the fence to the bus terminal to the right, you find,

A convenience store – Daily Yamazaki

A Soba Noodle Shop

Then go downstairs again then you’ll be at the entrance and ticket counter for Nagaden

Once you get here, it’s for ¥1260, just under an hour away to Yudanaka, the gateway to Snow Monkey.

From here to Yudanaka, you can refer to my previous post for more detail,

How to get to Yudanaka Part 3

I hope you can have a smooth transfer at Nagano Station!

See you next time!

Today’s Phrase

Michi Ni Mayor Mashita 道に迷いました = I’m lost

Hmm… Not ideal but you could be in this situation so listen and practise!

 

Zenkoji Temple 善光寺

Must-See temple in Nagano City

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When you are in Nagano City, this is a must-see temple in this town.

As the map below shows, it’s 30min walk from Nagano station. Pretty straight forward to get there, with lots of signs on side walks pointing the direction towards there.

There are nice cafes, souvenir shops and so on along the way so it will be a nice pleasant walk for you.

There are also buses to take you there too if you would prefer that way.

Zenkoji Temple 善光寺

Here’s the Link to TripAdvisor Review.

It says “#1 Attraction out of 113 in Nagano City”.

So I’m not the only one saying that.

For ¥500, you can also go inside the main temple building and some other places.

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The Difference Between Buddhisma and Shinto in Japan

Buddhism was born in India then brought to China then imported and introduced to Japan in the 6th century. Temples are for Buddhism.

Shinto is a native belief of Japan, I don’t even know how long there has been within Japanese culture… Since… Ages ago. Shirines represent Shinto.

Realistically these 2 different beliefs have been happily married and morphed into one, and engraved within Japanese culture so it is quite often very hard for Japanese people themselves to disguish these two.

History

Its history seems a little obscured by the long history since the origin.

Here’s the Link To Wikipedia in English for those who love to find out about this place more.

Basically it was originally built in 644AD in a lot smaller scale.

Then through centuries of wars it went through getting burned down so many times, the present structure was rebuilt 1707 and been there since.

Yes, in Medieval Age there were lots of wars in Japan for power and land and food.

Important Tip for visiting temples and shrines in Japan

It is highly advised to do a bit of homework or research to learn the history of what entails to the place you are visiting. Especially when you visit temples and shrines, they will be just another “Wooden Structure” if you don’t know the stories behind them.

I had a few occasions in the past personally, feeling like I’m just looking at another temple or shrine when I didn’t know the history behind them.

Quite often, there are some powerful warlords who built or had influences on the beginning, wars amongst clans and so on.

Anyway, when you are there keep your eyes on

1, Traditional Japanese wooden structural engineering
2, Tidiness and neatness of the surrounding garden
3, How Japanese people behave within these tradional places

Hope you will enjoy your experience there!See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Nihon No Otera Ya Jinjya Ga Daisuki Desu 日本のお寺や神社が大好きです = I love Japanese temples and shrines

Keep on Trying! People will be impressed!

Nagano, famous for timber but…

A slice of reality of Japan through trees

If you like DIY, you know about different types of timber, right?

Certain parts of Japan is famous for good timber such as pine, cedar and so on.

I can quickly think of Nagano, Wakayama, Hida Takayama to name a few.

Nagano is certainly one of those area famous for producing a good timber. It shouldn’t come as surprise to you when you think about the fact it’s surrounded by mountains.

It has a long history of tree plantations (Or in a sense that people grow trees to use as a timber).

So when you visit Nagano, you can’t help but notice many houses and buildings use nice-looking timber lavishly for inside and outside structures.

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In these parts of Japan the forestry used to be the main industry and produced renowned quality timber and supplied them all over Japan.

A lot of temples and shrines or even castles used the top quality timber to be built with from its local region mainly.

 

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A local shrine in Yudanaka
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Zenkoji temple in Nagano 長野 善光寺

Actually it is getting down on the main theme of the post from here.

So I said before the forestry used to be the main industry of these regions.

That means it was prosperous once in the past.

What happens now?

When you visit Nagano, you see forest everywhere with mighty looking tall straight trees.

But there are 2 major underlying issues that they have been facing for many years in the background, invisible to passer-bye’ eyes.

They are,

  • With the society raging, a difficulty to find young work force as their successors
  • Cheaper import from overseas

I think these issues must be same old in lots of places all over the world.

With these facts in mind, now you see these forests in a different light.

Whenever you see them when visiting Yudanaka area, keep those in the corner of your head.

See you next time!

-Today’s Phrase-

Nagano aiwa moriga ooi ながのにはもりがおおい = There are many forests in Nagano

Listen and practice! It’ll be useful when you visit Japan!