Archive for 'Enjoy Tochigi!' Category
According to Nikkei’s article on May 27th, picking-your-own farm shops of fruits are becoming more and more popular among foreign visitors especially those who come from Southeast Asian countries.
The article says, you can enjoy picking fruites at those shops withen a certain limited period of time such as 30 minutes or 60 minutes or so during which you can enjoy all- you-can- eat service and after the time you can buy those fruites to go, though service styles vary depending on each shop. The fruites may be strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches, grapes, pears, apples, mandrin oranges and so forth. Those fruites are so rare and usually difficult to see in natural or fresh states except for processed or cooked in Southeast Asia, which is the primary reason why those services increasingly attract people from those countries. Those farms shops might be a new eyecatcher for inbound tourism in Japan.
Tobu Railway announced its project of adopting classic trains in Kinugawa hot spring resort in Tochigi pref. in next summer 2017(http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/en/).
The types of planned trains are SL(steam locomotive) and DL(diesel locomotive). Those old types “retired” from service about 50years ago, but a lot of people still love those good oldies with nostalgic passions. Tobu decided to carry out this reinstatement in order to attract tourists to draw them in Kinugawa overcoming a bad image of the area caused by overflow of the river there last year ue to storms. the trains will run between Shimoimaichi station and Kinugaw-aonsen station (about 12.4km)on KinugawaLine. Each train will have capacity of about 400 passengers and 140 round travels a year at maximum.
This serivice of lighting up Toshogu, Rinnou-ji temple, and Futarasan shrine started 1995 and commemorating the 20th anniversary this time. And as it is also the 15th year of the registration of the World Heritage site of those Nikko religious fasilities. Therefore, this year they conducted a projection mapping show using the stone torii-gate of Toshogu for the first. Last year during the service, 22,000 people visited those places in just three days. This year the service is provided 18:00-21:00 everyday until Nov. 2nd. During the service, free walking tours in the areas of those facilities with guides are available as well.
Two huge international travel marts were held at Tokyo Bigsight in Tokyo. One was “Visit Japan Travel Mart 2014″(Sep.24-26)(http://www.vjtm.jp/) and the other was “JATA Toursim EXPO Japan2014″(Sep.25-28)(http://t-expo.jp/en/index.html).
More than 310 foriegn buyers and about 390 Japanese sellers joined VJTM2014 and had passionate exchanges of information and ideas and hosted busines seccions. Buyers from Asian countries were especially a lot and about the half of the Japanese sellers were municipalities or relating associations of such local governments.
On the other hand, a lot of domestic and foreign sellers and buysers joined JATA Tourism EXPO Japan 2014. Such participants were embassies, tourism bureaus, travel agents, food companies, municipalities, railroads, airlines, hotels. universities, guide associations and so forth. The main targets were end users of travel services and a lot of lay Japanese people visited there and the total number was 157,589. Upon the opening of the event, an ward ceremony of good services and efforts of related promotions was hosted and the Best Tourism Award was given to The Tourism Authority of Thailand and Embassy awards were for Thailand and Mexico, the best transporatation award was for Japan Railways East, the domestic inbound award was for the tourism department of Tokyo Metropolis, the publicity award was for a TV show of CXTV, and the chairperson special award was for Okinawa Convention Bureau. (http://t-expo.jp/en/program/cms.html) I personally visited the two big events and collected a lot of interesting information and exchanged ideas with the participants, some of whom were my friends or those I sometimes work with. I enjoyed the delicious food provided by tourism- related restaurants and local specialities and impressed by the greatly enthusiastic atmosphere of energies of the expos as well.
“TABIHAKU 2013” , an international travel showcase, was held Sep.12-15 by JATA(Japan Association of Travel Agents)(http://www.jata-net.or.jp/english/index.htm) in Tokyo BigSight. (http://www.b.tabihaku.jp/en/)
JATA is the biggest travel agents’ association in Japan and this event was supported by Japan Toursim Agency and other related organizations and businesses. Totally more than 131000 people visited the event and was a record-high in its history.
A lot of businesses including public associations from various parts of the world opened a booth and introduced their activities. foreign higher officials and related staff were invited with ceremonies. At one of the subevents, International Business Meeting buyers from countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia and others joined and passionate business meetings with Japanese sellers to create attractive tour services. I served as an interpreter of such meetings. I felt huge energies and enthusiasm in the venue.
My kids and I have rushed off to the Utsunomiya Museum of Art a few days ago. Now the special exhibition “Taikan Yokoyama Retrospective”, which marks the 15th anniversary of the museum,is going on there. You need to hurry – this ends on October 14th!
Taikan Yokoyama(1868 – 1958) is one of the most famous Japanese artists. He developed the new style of Nihonga in the pre-World War II Japan. His technique eliminates the lines and creates soft, blurred brushwork. A great number of his works have been classified as Important Cultural Property by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
This exhibition covers Taikan’s various works, ranging from famous Mt.Fuji paintings to the posters/post cards/book covers/ kimono designs,etc., which are often considered as peripherals.
When we arrived at the museum, many tourists had just come out of the tour bus. I seldom see so many tourists around there on weekdays. This tells Taikan Yokoyama exhibition attracts lots of people from different places!
The Utsunomiya Museum of Art is located in the Utsunomiya Cultural Forest, which is full of the autumn beauty now. My kids and I enjoyed catching insects and picking up acorns on the way to the museum from the parking area.
*The following is the official site of the Utsunomiya Museum of Art (Japanese only). You can see some of the Yokoyama Taikan’s works, exhibited at the museum.
The 37th MIYA MATSURI (Utsunomiya Summer Festival) was held on August 4th and 5th. My friends, my family and I went to the festival on August 4th. Actually, it was my first time to experience this festival since we had moved in this city 6 years ago.
The total number of mikoshi (portable shrines), which paraded the town throughout 2-day-festival, were 90! And about 3,500 kids (under age 6) joined the parade on the second day.
The following is the official site of MIYA MATSURI. Various pictures of Japanese traditional performing arts can be checked!
I had rarely seen so many people at one place in Utsunomiya. At first, I had felt like all the Utsunomiya citizens visited this festival. But I heard that people from different places as well as Utsunomiya citizens come and enjoy the festival these days.
We enjoyed the night – watching the parade, tasting street food, buying masks, etc. I hope even more people will come and feel the hot Utsunomiya next year!
The temperature in Utsunomiya goes up to 35℃ or even higher these days. My family and I decided to take a day trip to Oku Nikko last Monday. Yes, that was the right place to cool down ourselves. The temperature of Oku Nikko was around 25℃!! It felt great!!
Those pictures of the waterfalls make me feel good even after coming back to the hot city of Utsunomiya.
(1) Kegon-no-taki (Kegon Waterfall)
(2)Ryuzu-no-taki (Ryuzu Waterfall)
(3)The view from Hangetsuyama (Mt. Hangetsu)
This time we didn’t have enough time to go up to the observatory deck, but it was cloudy anyway. This is the view from the parking at Hangetsuyama. Nantaisan (Mt.Nantai, also known as Nikko Fuji) was not clear then, but I’m sure it would be one of the best spots to appreciate the beautiful Mt.Nantai. I wish I would be back again when it’s clear.
Last year, I introduced Utunomiya Shinrin Koen (Utsunomiya Forest Park) as a stage of the world cycle road race, called Japan Cup. But today, let me share other fun experience at this park. My family and I participated in a church camp there.
My elder son and other members tried climbing Mt. Kogashiyama. The mountain is not that high (only 583m above sea), but it was such a challenge for 5-year-old-kids to climb it. Some parts were so steep and rocky!
While the company was climbing the mountain, my younger son (age 2) and I were cycling around the park. We really enjoyed the beauty of the forest and felt refreshed.
The park also provides camping site, lodging facilities, the site for campfire and BBQ, and fishing site, etc. Can you imagine Utsunomiya Shinrin Koen is just 20 minutes away from the center of Utsunomiya city?
~Mythology, Moomin, and People in the Wilderness~
The special exhibition – the Essence of Finnish Design and Culture-is now held at Utsunomiya Museum of Art.
What does Finland remind you? Moomin characters? Good designs of crafts? Santa Claus? Etc.
The exhibition shows you about 350 artworks, raging from paintings, architecture, crafts, to Moomin series.
What impressed me most were Marimekko textiles, which I thought symbolized the essence of Finnish lifestyle.
The exhibition has been traveling across Japan.
Dates and Venue
• 07 Apr. 2012 – 03 Jun. Aomori Prefectural Museum of Art
• 10 Jun. 2012 – 26 Aug. Utsunomiya City Museum of Art
• 01 Sep. 2012 – 08 Oct. Shizuoka City Museum of Art
• 19 Oct. 2012 – 24 Dec. Nagasaki Prefectural Museum of Art
• 10 Jan. 2013 – 10 Mar. Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art
For more details about the exhibition, visit the following;
The map of Utsunomiya Museum of Art
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Annular solar eclipse wowed millions of people in Japan on May 21, 2012.
My neighbors and my family also witnessed this rare event together in Utsunomiya, Tochigi.
The eclipse started at 6:30 AM here in Utsunomiya. Although my family and I were busy getting ready for kindergarten and work at that time, we cheked the sun from the window every five minute. The sun seemed to start waning like the moon. My yonger son insisted that it was not the sun, but the moon!
At around 7:00 AM, my neighbors and my family came outside with the special sunglasses. The more part of the sun got covered by the moon, the gloomier and colder it got.
The golden ring continued from 7:34 to 7:39. It amazed us all!
The news said that the thick cloud prevented many people from viewing this special event in various parts of Japan. Fortunately, my neighborhood observed littld cloud.
The next annular solar eclipse will be observed only in Hokkaido on June 1, 2030.
Killer whales are what my boys had dreamed to see!!
The last Golden Week was the chance for my family and me to visit Kamogawa Seaworld, which is famous for the dynamic killer whale performance in Japan.
( http://www.kamogawa-seaworld.jp/english/index.html )
These photos were taken by my husband. (View them larger by click!) He concentrated on catching the moment of the killer whale somersaulting and kicking a ball!! The audience in the front section got wet to the skin.
Besies the performance of killer whales, Kamogawa Seaworld puts on various performances of sea lions, dolphines, beluga white whales. We could cover all performances in one day.
Can you see the sea lion’s smile? When the sea lion lifted up its lips and made a smiling face, all the audience bursted into a hearty laugh!
Kamogawa Seaworld would be a good destination of a one-day trip from Tokyo. It’s about 200km from Utsunomiya, where we live. It’s about 100km from Kashiwa, where my parents live. This time we made a one-day trip (by car) from my parents’.
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.
The movie THERMAE ROMAE (http://www.thermae-romae.jp/index.html )
was released on April 28, 2012. Since then, it has amazed more and more people!
The story is a comedy about Lucius, an architect of public bath houses in ancient Rome, who time-travels to various modern day baths in Japan and explores the two cultures in the world “that have loved baths the most: the Japanese and the Romans.”
I had a chance to see this movie! Let me say this is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen – from cross-cultural and comparative cultural point of view, from comedy point of view, from historical point of view, and from TOCHIGI point of view!!
Kita-Onsen in Nasu, Tochigi, was chosen as a location for the heroine’s parents house in the movie. Kita-Onsen is considered one of the secret baths (meaning “onsen” not known to many people.)
Here is the English website of Kita-Onsen.
( http://www9.ocn.ne.jp/~kitanoyu/mokujie.htm )
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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.