Nagano & Obuse

26 feb 2007

Sake-brewery / museum in the village

Great food for dinner! And this was only half of it!!! Time and time again they came with new dishes. Sukiyaki, grilled bamboo shoot, grilled fish, sashimi, horse meat, shrimp, pickles, fried tofu, shrimp, ... , yoghurt with strawberries. I guess 15 different dishes or maybe even more

After dinner, time for a bath! This is the private tub that we were allowed to use for an hour

The ryokan is called "Sekiya" which had separated men/women outdoor baths and a small tub that could be reserved for "the family" :-). Also great foods (and lots of different small dishes) and... a very advanced massage chair in the room!

After that... the normal outdoor onsen

The second day of our trip we went to Obuse, the city where the famous Japanese artist Hokusai lived. Some of his woodcarvings have become icons of Japan. We went to the Hokusai Museum (Official Japanese page), displaying the many of his works and to a temple with a ceiling painted by him

The region around Nagano is famous for it's apples and grapes and everywhere you can see why: huge orchards everywhere.


Small shrine with thatched roof

Zenkouji, one of Japans most famous temples. Among the Japanese at least... as Nagano is a bit difficult to get to for the mainstream tourists (who visit Tokyo-Kyoto). One japanese saying "I followed an ox to Zenkouji" meaning that some unexpected luck came to you, refers to the following legend:
There once lived in a village called Akaiwa on the banks of Chikuma River an old woman who was distrustful of others. She made her living weaving cloth. One day, as she was washing a piece of cloth in the river, a cow appeared and snatched it away on its horns. The stingy old woman did not want to lose her cloth and so chases the cow to the Zenkouji Temple in Nagano City. The cow then disappears into the temple and in place a golden Kannon (goddess of mercy) appears. The goddess admonishes the old woman for her wrongdoings. The old woman promises to become trustworthy after which she is granted lengevity by the goddess. The cloth, they say, was blown by the wind to the cliff overhanging Chikuma River and turned into white stone.