Archive for 'Enjoy Tochigi!' Category

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!!

1つ星2つ星3つ星4つ星5つ星 (4 投票, 平均値/最大値: 4.75 / 5)

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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MIYA-RUN (Utsunomiya Running Event)

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 土曜日, 4月 28, 2012

Miya-run started at the Utsunomiya castle.

A running event, called MIYA-RUN, was held on April 22nd. Its catch phrase was:
“Run through Utsunomiya-city, and enjoy the sights and sweets!!”
The marathon course for MIYA-RUN passed along the Utsunomiya belt line of 42km.
During the event, the runners were offered Utsunomiya sweets at every 5 km, 9 points in total.

The picture shows what sweets they were offered.

9 sweets from Utsunomiya sweet shops offered at each point

I hadn’t known about this event until it was reported on the Shimotsuke newspaper on the next day.

The Shimotsuke reported MIYA-RUN on April 23rd.

I wish I could have participated in this fun event!

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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.

1つ星2つ星3つ星4つ星5つ星 (2 投票, 平均値/最大値: 5.00 / 5)

JAXA spring open-house event at Tsukuba Space Center

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 日曜日, 4月 22, 2012

A rocket is located at the gate to JAXA.

    JAXA annual open-house event for Science and Technology Week was held at the Tsukuba Space Center on April 21, 2012.  Its catch phrase is: “Come to TKSC! The place that is the closest to space” Please visit our facility with your friends and families.

   My family and I visited the event! So many people gathered at this hot opportunity!! Though we couldn’t try plastic-botttle rocket making and treasure hunting using the MICHIBIKI satellite & GPS, we really enjoyed the lectures by astronaut Hoshide and JAXA employee Uchiyama (Kounotori, HTV). Also, the exhibition of space solar power system was interesting even for my kids. 3D movie conveyed the sensation of extravehicular activities in space.

  The series of events will go on at other facilities. The schedule can be checked here:

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Cherry blossom in full bloom in Utsunomiya

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 月曜日, 4月 16, 2012

Bloomy Cherry Blossom in Utsunomiya on April 15th

This weekend is the best timing for “Ohanami”(cherry blossom viewing) in Utsunomiya. Bloomy cherry blossom made people happy and exciting! People enjoyed Ohanami at various parks under the beautiful sunshine on Sunday. So did our neighbors and my family at our nearest park. Parents enjoyed drinking, while kids ran around.

“Sakurazensen”,which indicates the “front line ”of the bloomy cherry blossoms, keeps going north. Tohoku region will soon welcome bloomy cherry blossom!!

1つ星2つ星3つ星4つ星5つ星 (2 投票, 平均値/最大値: 5.00 / 5)

Hakone & Gotemba trip

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 月曜日, 4月 9, 2012

My family and I took a trip to Hakone & Gotemba near Mt.Fuji. Let me share the beauty of Japan!

Mt.Fuji in the afternoon (viewed from where we stayed in Gotemba)

Mt.Fuji in the late afternoon


Mt.Fuji in the early morning


Mt.Fuji viewed from the lake Ashi

On the way to Hakone from Utsunomiya, we stopped by at the Odawara castle in Kanagawa, where people enjoyed cherry blossom viewing – ohanami.

The Hakone Open-air Museum was one of the places where I’d wanted to take my kids! This trip brought us the chance to visit this beautiful museum.
We could put ourselves in the harmony of the art and nature.

See the English website of the Hakone Open-air Museum :

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Camille Pissaro and Impressionism at Utsunomiya Museum of Art

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 月曜日, 4月 2, 2012

Utsunomiya Museum of Art had been closed for about a year and it reopened on March 24, 2012.

The ongoing special exhibition is Camille Pissarro—Patriarche de la modernité (Camille Pissaro and Impressionism.)  (From March 24 to May 27)

It focuses on what Camille Pissarro had in common with the other Impressionist painters.

 April 1st  was Utsunomiya Citizen Day, and the entrance fee was free for Utsunomiya citizens. Many people, including my family and I, really appreciated the exhibition.  

Here are other good news: On Family Days (April 15th and May 20th ) , the fee will be free if adults come with children under age 18.

The museum is located in the park, which is called Utsunomiya Cultural Forest. Its weedy hill includes some art figures. We had lunch at the park under the beautiful sunshine after enjoying Pissaro.

The following site shows the park map and you can see it is surrounded by beautiful nature.

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be off – Oya stone studio

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 水曜日, 3月 21, 2012

be off is a Oya stone studio.

I joined the ballet performance on March 18th, which was held at the studio “be off.” This studio is made of pale green Oya stone.
What is Oya stone? It was formed by the exlosion of a vocano about 20 million years ago. It is mined in Oya region, Utsunomiya, and mainly used as building materials. The characteristic of Oya stone is soft and light. Besides, it has warm atmosphere.
It was such an experience to dance in the Oya stone studio. The music spread to the whole space!!

The ballet performance was held at be off.

1つ星2つ星3つ星4つ星5つ星 (2 投票, 平均値/最大値: 5.00 / 5)


By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 月曜日, 3月 5, 2012

TOSA BUNTAN season has come.

I received a box of TOSA BUNTAN (citrus grandis) from a friend of my mother’s, living in Kochi prefecture. Can you see how big it is? Compare its size with a stapler beside. 

In Japan, there are about 40 kinds of Buntan.  TOSA BUNTAN is the one that is  produced in Kochi prefecture.  This is big enough, but there are even bigger kinds.

When I peel it, the refreshing smell of citrus spreads the whole room. Its taste reminds me that spring is coming closer to Kanto area though the ground in Utsunomiya, Tochigi, is still covered with slight snow.

This amount of marmalade was made from just two BUNTAN peels.

I made marmalade from two BUNTAN peels. It took two days to complete marmalade, but this is one of my favorite waiting-for-spring cookings!
Check the location of Kochi prefecture;

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“SHINOBIDO” being run at theaters

By TERRY - Last updated: 土曜日, 2月 25, 2012

“SHINOBIDO”(/忍道), the special movie to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Edo Wonderland  Nikko ( is being shown at theaters.

The story is about a tragic love between a shinobi(or Ninjya) girl and a samurai warrior of her enemy, depicting energetic and lively actions and battles of shiboi and warriors.The mainpart is played by a young and popular actor named Aimi Satsukawa(/佐津川愛美), and a young shinobi girl who longs for her is played by Ayaka Kikuchi(/菊地あやか), a member of AKB48.


The work is produced by Edo Wonderland which usually provides live  action shows of ninjya performances of the ninjya actors there.  Some important parts in the movie are played by famous actors, such as Toshio Kurosawa(/黒沢年雄), Naoko Ken(/研ナオコ), Ryouichi Eki(/エキリョウイチ), Mayuko Iwasa(/岩佐真悠子), Hatsunori Hasegawa(/長谷川初範),and others.

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SHIO-KOJI (salt-marinated rice malt) as a seasoning

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 水曜日, 2月 22, 2012

mixed three ingredients:ready to start fermentation!

Have you heard about shio-koji, salt-marinated rice malt? Shio-koji is an old Japanese seasoning, made just from rice malt, salt, and water. All these three ingredients are mixed, fermented, and matured. The old Japanese used shio-koji as a bed for pickling vetetables/fish for preservation as well as for staying healthy.

But is that only an old time story?

Amazingly shio-koji has become so popular again since 2011 that many recipes are introduced in various TV programs or blogs and at cooking schools. Besides many books about shio-koji are published.

To tell the truth, I hadn’t known about this popular fermented seasoning until one of my friends gave me her home-made shio-koji a few weeks ago. Since then, I have become a big fan of it.
You know what? I can use shio-koji for wide variety of dishes – ranging from miso-soup, oden, grilled fish/meat to curry, stew and pot-au-feu. What I do is just add shio-koji instead of salt. It is this fermented seasoning that can deepen the taste!!

Today I started making my own shio-koji:
・Only three gredients to start – dried rice malt (300g), salt (90g) water (500cc)
・Massage the rice malt with salt
・Add water and stir
・Transfer to a Tupperware or some container like that
・Remember to cover it lightly with a lid

That’s all I did today.

fermented&matured shio-koji

From tomorrow, I have to mix it once a day for even fermentation.
In 10 days – 2 weeks, shio-koji should be ready like this ; (*this picture is not what I work on)

I can’t wait to enjoy my own shio-koji!

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KOSODATE SHIEN CONCERT by Utsunomiya Business Denshi College

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 土曜日, 2月 11, 2012

Alice in Wonderland by the students

“KOSODATE SHIEN CONCERT” (the concert as a child-support program) was held by the childminder course of Utusomiya Business Denshi College on February 11. Since the curriculum of childcare workers was improved, the child support in community was also considered as an important role of care provider. One of the teachers made a comment that the concert would be the first step for the students to play a role of leading childcare in community.
The concert, which was admission free, consisted of two parts;
Part 1: Musical – Alice in Wonderland
Part2: Songs and dance
AKB48 Heavy Rotation
Marumaru Morimori
Ampanman Song

The concert was held at Tochigi Fukushi Plaza and crowded with many families. My family and I sat on the front seat and really enjoyed the musical as well as songs and dances. I could see all the students had practiced so hard that some of them were moved to tears when the concert was finished.
I heard that all the final-year students in this course got a job offer though it’s tough finding a job these days in Japan.
*Tochigi Fukushi Plaza

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Japanese high school girl- the winner of the Prix de Lausanne 2012

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 月曜日, 2月 6, 2012

Madoka Sugai(17) won the prize with the top score.

Madoka Sugai of Japan (aged 17) became the winner of the Prix de Lausanne 2012, the 40th competition. The Prix de Lausanne is an international dance competition for aged 15 to 18. The competition this year had 226 applicants from 30 nationalities, including 19 Japanese. The final competition was held on February 4th at the Beaulieu Theater in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Each of 8 winners is awarded one-year scholarship to an internationally notable dance school.
Japanese famous ballerina Miyako Yoshida, former winner of the Lausanne prize and one of the jurors this time, praised Ms.Sugai’s dance a lot.

I myself got so excited about the news that Madoka Sugai, a Japanese high school student, won such a big prize! Surprisingly, the paper said that it was her first experience of joining the competition overseas.

1つ星2つ星3つ星4つ星5つ星 (3 投票, 平均値/最大値: 5.00 / 5)

VARIENTINE by Clementine

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 木曜日, 1月 12, 2012

This is the CD jacket of VARIENTINE by Clementine.

Today let me introduce Bossa version of Japanese music,  played in Japanese variety programs.  VARIENTINE by a French singer and songwriter, Clementine, was first released in August 2011.  Since then, the bossa flavors of Japanese songs, which are familiar to most of us, have comforted and cheered the Japanese.

Clementine was born in Paris and raised in different countries, so her music has been influenced by various local music as well as Bossa Nova; first debued in Paris, and now based in Japan.

The jacket of ANIMENTINE-plus

You should also check out ANIMENTINE(released in July, 2010 ) and ANIMENTINE-plus(released in May, 2011), both of which are Bossa version of Japanese anime songs.

My family and I enjoy both VARIENTINE and ANIMENTINE while driving!

Why don’t you check some?  I’m sure you’ll love them!

*Bossa du SUDARA BUSHI by Clementine
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