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onsen

Sake & mama-chari samurai

A weekend visiting old storehouses doesn’t sound that interesting, but when the storehouses contain sake breweries with tasting opportunities, things look a whole lot brighter.  It also helps that the storehouses are traditional old structures with a lot of character.  Aizu Wakamatsu and neighbouring Kitakata, north of Tokyo in Fukushima Prefecture, have lots of old kura (storehouses), samurai history, sake breweries, and a nearby onsen.  This was a visit to old Japan. (more…)

Fuji-san & the cosmos

The cosmos were blooming on the shores of Kawaguchi-ko, and the late afternoon sun was shining on Fuji-san.  I bought a new guidebook recently, which describes hikes near Tokyo that end at onsens.  The cosmos was kind to us yesterday, by providing sunshine, good views of Mt Fuji across Kawaguchi-ko, and a nearly empty rotenburo (outdoor onsen). (more…)

GEKISAKA hill race – Tour de Utsukushigahara

The Tour de France?  No, the real tough hill climbing cycle event is the Tour de Utsukushigahara, with its gekisaka (檄坂 – severe slope).  The race is only 22km in distance, but ascends 1,270 metres up to Utsukushigara from Asama Onsen (in Matsumoto) – the first few hundred metres of the race ascendup an 18% incline.  (more…)

Yufuin

Yufuin is  a charming onsen resort town in Oita Prefecture, inland from Beppu.  It is full of ryokan with hot springs, and is situated under a towering mountain called Yufu-dake.  The spring flowers were still out – it was a nice town to walk around before heading back to the ryokan for a big meal and a soak in the rotenburo. (more…)

Arima Onsen

In the last weekend of November, I spent a weekend in Osaka with Akiyo (high school host family sister) and her family.  On the Sunday, we headed to Arima Onsen, a hot spring resort in the hills behind Kobe.  (more…)

To no Take

With my new gear in tow, I got out of Tokyo for the first time this trip, and headed out early on Sunday morning on the Odakyu Line to a town called Shibusawa (Kanazawa Prefecture), about 75 mins south west of Shinjuku.  From there, it’s a short bus ride to Okura, where some hiking trails start through the Tanzawa-Oyama Kokutei Park.  (more…)

Sculpture park, wine tasting, a picnic with the kookaburras and soaking in an onsen

Today’s trip took around 16 of us on a minibus to three wineries on the Mornington Peninsula, with some other assorted stops along the way.  Well done Glen for organising and being tour-guide/announcer.  Keeping with the Japanese theme, we finished at the Peninsula Hot Springs, a Japanese-style onsen next to the Moonah Links golf course at the back of Rye.  More on that below. (more…)