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By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 火曜日, 5月 8, 2012

It was a nice day when we visited Mashiko to have a look around the crockery fair which is held every Golden Week Holidays.  We can buy crockery at half the price off the market price.  A lot of potters from all over the country opened up tentative stores focusing around Jonaizaka which is the main street of Pottery.

Unfortunately we had devastating tornadoes in Kita Kanto region on the 6th.  One of them wreaked havoc in Mashiko.  I haven’t heard a lot of damages there but I suspect bad weather prevented people to come.  Even Utsunomiya city were I live had a gust.

According to Shimotsuke Shimbun (local newspaper) said that city of Moka and the towns of Mashiko and Motegi in Tochigi, around 914 houses were damaged by a gust.

Nikko English Speaking Guide

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Taue (Rice Planting)

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 水曜日, 5月 2, 2012

I went Mashiko yesterday.  Mashiko is the mecca of pottery in Tochigi.

World famous Hamada Shoji put Mashiko on the global map.  I will write about Mashiko Crockery Festival which is on during Golden Week Holiday season, next time.

Taue season has just started.  Rice is produced by farmers average age over 64 years old.    We can see a lot of young people working on the site in rice planting.  Why?

I think I can answer the question.  Children who work at urban cities come back to their places of origin in Golden Week Holiday period to help their parents who are quite old.

They don’t think they succeed to their parents because of the Japanese Rice Cropping will no longer making money.  Our government can not afford to give such a huge amount of subsidy any more.  Free Trade and Trans Pacific Partnership things are the farmers biggest headache.

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Late spring

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 月曜日, 4月 30, 2012

Not a nice photo but I took this last week in Nikko.

Actually, I tried to take some  photos of  the famous cherry blossoms in Tamozawa Imperial Villa.  Unfortunately cherry blossoms in Nikko was not the right time when I visited.  But Yashio Azaleas was blooming instead.

Cherry blossoms in Nikko will be full this weekend, I should say.

An other famous cherry tree is Kongozakura which is designated as a protected species.

You never miss it if you go to Sanbutsudo Hall, Rinnoji Temple.

Happy Golden Week holiday!!

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Original Nikko Toshogu-shrine

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 日曜日, 4月 29, 2012

Nikko Toshogu-shrine is known as the most colorful and well decorated shrine in Japan.  Above photos are taken not in Nikko but Serada, Ota-shi, Gunma pref. next to Tochigi pref.  These are photos of original Nikko Toshogu-shrine which was built by Iyasasu’s son the second Shogun Hidetada.  After 20 years passed, the third Shogun Iemitsu who loved his grand father rebuilt the world famous Toshogu-shrine which we can see now in Nikko.  Original Nikko Tosogu-shrine.  Original architecture was moved to Serada where Tokugawa’s place of origin.

Please compare above photos and the photo down below.  According to Ieyasu’s will,” build a small shrine and enshrine me as a god” ., Hidetada followed what his father said.  Simply Iemitsu spent nearly 3% of GNP at that time to build such an amazing architecture.

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Newly restored Karamon-gate, Toshogu in Nikko

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 月曜日, 4月 23, 2012

One of the national treasures in Japan is Karamon-gate, Toshogu in Nikko.

One of our group visited there last month to see the procedure of the restoration and we found it very impressive way craftsmen were following.  Now Karamon gate are reappeared in front of us.  What a marvelous job the craftsmen did!!  Now I do understand the meaning of “Never say Kekko (wonderful) without seeing Nikko.”

I believe this restoration was a part of the Toshogu Heisei restoration program which budgeted neary 2 billion yen.  (about 24 million dollars US)

When you come to Nikko, please contact TOTAK guides who are based inTochigi pref. and show you around at reasonable guiding fee.  I think it is worth to be with the guide.

Contact Cool Tours or me directly.

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Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 日曜日, 8月 29, 2010

I’ve been to Nikko with TOTAK members the other day.  Main purpose of our visist to Nikko was to appreciate a performance of Takigi Noh Play at Rin-nouji Temple.  Chair person of the society organized the tour not only to see the Noh Play but also including Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park. 


Currently we have three Imperial Villas in Japan.  Suzaki Imperial Villa in Shizuoka, Hayama Imperial Villa in Kanagawa and Nasu Imperial Villa in Tochigi.  We used to have an Imperial Villa in Nikko as well.  Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa was built in 1899 for imperial prince Yoshihito who would be Taisho emperor.  He was poor in health so that he needed to stay at some of the health resort.  The summer weather in Nikko was suitable for him and the officials (mainly ministry of Imperial hold) decided to build it for him.  After the world war two, due to the new constitution introduced, Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa was abolished in 1947.  However, one of Tochigi authorities maintain the property as one of parks in Tochigi.  You should go there while you are here in Tochigi, Japan.

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Mikamoyama Park

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 月曜日, 6月 28, 2010

Mikamoyama parkAfter we enjoyed Ramen noodles in Sano and window shopping at the premium outlet, we dropped by Mikamoyama Park.  The name of Mikamoyama is very popular among Japanese people.  The oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand leaves) compiled some time 759 AD. during Nara period includes Mikamoyama poet.

しもつけぬ みかもの山の こならのす まくはしころは たかけかもたむ

Actually I know the name of Mikamoyama but I never knew the whole poet.  I guess most of Japanese people are the same as me. 

A part of Mikamoyama is the local government running park. 


Most of Japanese facilities require admission fee for us to enter, but this park is running by local government so that only you have to pay is a motive ride (train?).

We used the Motorway back to Utsunomiya.  It took us only 40 minutes.

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Sano, famous for Ramen, Yakuyoke-Daishi and Brand-shop outlets.

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 水曜日, 6月 16, 2010

Bamboo noodle making utensil When we arrived at Sano was just after lunch time, and we were so hungry that we jumped in one of the famous Sano Ramen restaurnat.  I never thought to take photos of Ramen noodle because of my starving stomach.  After the meal, I asked the staff to show us how to make Sano Ramen noodles.  Unfortuanately noodles has been made in the morning, so that he used the towel instead of dough for us to demonstrate how to use  bamboo.  Sano Ramen noodles are made such a way supposed to be, but only 4 or 5 restaurants are following this method.  We really enjoyed the texture of the noodles and also the taste of broth.

Sano Outlets

Sano Outlets

We have not visit Sano Yakuyoke Daishi (SYD not Sydney though) this time.  We visited Sano Premium Outlet instead.

 There are a lot of brand shops.  We saw a lot of people but not so many people walking with shopping bags due to our economy, I guess.

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Shibazakura park, Ichikai-machi

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 月曜日, 5月 17, 2010

We were so lucky having a beaufiful day when we visited to Shibazakura park.

moss phlox park in Ichikai citymoss phlox





ShibazakuraPhlox subulata (Moss Phlox, Moss Pink, Mountain Phlox) is a perennial creeper growing to a height of 6 inches and covering a 20 inch wide area. The small, five-petaled flowers bloom in rose, mauve, blue, white, or pink in late spring to early summer. (according to Wikipedia).

We were supposed to park our vehicle at Number 2 car park where located a bit far from the park.  Shuttle seriveces have been arranged by the organizer.  My car has got two stickers which indicating for paraplegic.  We have not been anticipated, but traffic controller asked us to go to Number 1 car park, next to the park.  Lucky us.


You don’t bring anything with you when you go to the place like this, always some food bars are ready to wait for you in Japan.  Of course you have to pay a little bit more money than ordinal place.

grilled sweet fish

Usually, you can find Yakisoba (Fried chinese noodles with tomato based sauce), Oknomiyaki or Takoyaki at the food bar.  Here in Tochigi, you can find grilled sweet fish most of the time.  Why don’t you try some?

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Fukuroda falls

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 火曜日, 5月 11, 2010

fukuroda falls 3.Fukuroda falls are one of the three beautiful falls in Japan.  Kegon falls and Nachi falls are the others.

Fukuoroda falls are located in Daigo-cho, Ibaraki, cross the border off Tochigi where I live.  It took me around one and half hours to get there from my house.  New lookout has been introduced short while ago, people enjoy 44m elevator ride and could see the top part of the falls now.  However, it is said that the old lookout is better than new one in terms of their stringency.  Currently admission fee is 300 yen.

If you wish to see my motion picture, please click below.

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Koinobori~ Carp-shaped Streamers

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 水曜日, 5月 5, 2010

baby carp streamersToday is the last day of Golden Week Holiday.  May the 5th is Children’s day and we often fly carp-shaped streamers outside our homes to represent strength and success.  We can also see a lot of carp streamers across the rivers in rural areas.

This is the shot when I went to Fukuroda falls in Ibaraki  just cross the border where I live.   On the way to the falls, we have to walk along Kuji river for a while, but it was a nice walk there.  We had to park our cars about 10 minutes walk distance from the entrance of the falls.  We saw a lot of carp flying in the sky on that day.

We were luckily back home without heavy traffic jam.  May be deities blessed us because we are doing well all the time!?

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Sendai part3

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 水曜日, 5月 5, 2010

Matsushima, near Sendai welcomes you.  The 260 pine-clad islands around Matsushima Bay were created by gradual erosion.  Since Matsuo Basho visited and praised its beauty in his Haiku, the picturesque view of Matsushima has attracted tourists more than 300 years.  Unfortunately places like Matsushima are bit touristy but OK with me unless they throw their hospitality minds away081086.

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Sendai part 2

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 月曜日, 3月 29, 2010

Sendai is the capital of Northern Honshu.  U-ji Ko-ji, manzai comedians who are boast of their hometown which is near Nikko, Tochigi prefecture, mentioned that Sendai is New York of Tohoku region.  Tohoku literally means “east north”.  Matsushima, Aoba castle, Tohoku University and Beef tongue are famous.  But Sendai is more than just an historical city.  It is industrial and trading centre of world importance.  The factory where I have been cotracted for is producing  semiconductors and it’s parent company is an American company.  I have been working with Welsh engeneers about 4 weeks and found everyone of them is nice people and I had a good time with them.  Particularly after work.  Read the rest of this entry »

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By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 木曜日, 3月 25, 2010

010I am supposed to write about Nikko and it’s area, aren’t I?  Today, I am not talking about Nikko but Sendai.  Sendai is located in Tohoku region and the biggist city among Tohoku 6 prefectures.  It takes about only one hour and six minutes from Utsunomiya where I live to Sendai by Shinkansen (Bullet train).  About 240km north from Utsunomiya.  Acturally it takes about 50 minutes from Tokyo to Utsunomiya in spite of the 100km distance.  Can anyone tell why that happens? 

The answer is; it is densed area between Tokyo and Utsunomiya so that the  bullet trains are not allowed to run as they supposed to.  Even so, bullet train is far better than normal train.  It takes 1 hour and 40 minutes if you use normal train.

I will tell you why Sendai next time.

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Hatsumoude (First visit shrines and temples in new year holidays)

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 月曜日, 1月 11, 2010

Unfortunately I cannot tell you about Tochigi this time.  Every year my father in law staying with us on New year’s eve and New Year’s day.  He is a paraplegic so that my wife and myself are quite busy when he is at home.  I will tell you about the relationship between husband and wife, in-laws etc. near future.

Anyway, my wife and I have been to my mother’s place to do New Year’s greetings.  We stayed Hiratsuka a couple days and whole my family decided to go to Daiyuzan Saijoji temple (founded more than 600 years ago) to pray for a long life and happiness for the year.  It took us nearly a couple hours by car due to the traffic jam which we have expected.  The day we visited was the first day we are allowed to come up the parking lot nearby.  We have to park the car out skirt of the city and we have to use the shuttle bus on January 1st, 2nd and 3rd . 

We prayed there and we bought Omikuji (fortune written on slips of paper)which people normally do at shrines and temples.  I almost forgot to tell you about “osaisen”.  Before we pray in front of  the statue, we can find the box which is expected a lot of money dropped by the visitors those who are wishing for a good luck.  You must prepare coins before you pray in Japan.  Those donations are very helpful and only the season temples and shrines received, I suppose.  Sorry for no photos this time.

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