Monday, December 17, 2012

Kitagawa Village Onsen “Yuzu no Yado”

In the outdoor bath you
can see falling stars during
 the night, and in the early
morning you can hear the chirping
of birds and the sounds of deer.
   Kitagawa Village has a population of around 1500 people and is surrounded by the majestic mountains of Shikoku and the serene Nahari River. The onsen can be reached in around 20 minutes from Route 55. The natural springs were discovered 80 years ago, and due to the abundance of sodium and carbon ions in the water, they have come to be called “Fountain of Youth”.
   During yuzu season, you can enjoy the “Yuzu Bath” (the time the Yuzu Bath is open changes depending on each year’s harvest of yuzu, so please confirm its availability ahead of time). The excellent service of the attentive staff adds another layer of appeal to this wonderful onsen.

Ryuga Onsen ~ Where ceramic tanukis greet you ~

The indoor bath
 (you can see little ceramic tanukis outside the window)
   The hot spring inn Ryuga Onsen can be found about one hour from Kochi City center by bus along Route 22, the road that leads to Ryugado Cave. A large ceramic tanuki that stands about five meters tall marks the entrance.

Kumo no Ueno Onsen

You are surrounded by great nature.
   Yusuhara is a small town located near the source of the beautiful Shimanto River and it is surrounded by the Shikoku Karst. “Kumo no Ueno Onsen” with fresh hot spring water stands among magnificent mountains, making you want to stop by when driving through.
   Its spring quality is good for washing off excess sebum and dead skin cells, and creating fresh, smooth skin. That is why it is called “Spring of Beauty” and there is a variety of hot springs to enjoy:

Winter Recipe in Tosa

   Kochi Prefecture is known as a production area of yuzu (a kind of citrus) and has a 40 percent share across the country. Yuzu are grown in mountain areas that have a difference in temperature during day and night, and are said to be good for cold prevention. There are probably many people who take a yuzu bath on a cold day. In addition, it is said that they contain more than three times as much Vitamin C as lemons and an ingredient to make the skin beautiful.

   Here is a simple recipe of yuzu tea below. Please drink yuzu tea and warm up!
Yuzu Tea

   Equal amounts of yuzu (with removal of seeds) and crystal sugar (or caster sugar)
1. Cut off the tip of the yuzu and wash.
2. Cut them in half crosswise and remove seeds.
3. Cut as thinly as possible, including the pith.
4. Put some cut yuzu and crystal sugar (or caster sugar) alternately in a bottle.
5. It will be ready to drink after the crystal sugar melts. Put as much as you like into a cup, pour hot water on it and stir.

Let’s get a Ryoma Passport!

   Do you know about the Ryoma Passport, which gives you special discounts and privileges at almost 360 different places in Kochi Prefecture? The passport started in April 2012 and is valid for two years, with 3 different types: a blue, red, and black passport. There have been over 20,000 blue passports issued already!

Kinkon Tosanikki ⑧

A series of four-panel comics called Kinkon Tosanikki appears in the evening edition of the local Kochi Shimbun newspaper.

At Makino Botanical Garden
Takumi: Whoa~.
(Sign: Sakamoto Ryoma)

Takumi : Those plant humans were so cool.
Grandma: You mean chrysanthemum dolls!

Takumi : I want to be like them…
Grandma: Oi! You’re walking toward the bushes.

Takumi : Look! I’m like them!!
Grandma: A very dull cocklebur human.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The season for Yuzu baths

   Winter is the best season for taking baths. When I come in from the cold outside and climb into a warm bath, I feel especially glad to be in Japan.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Seven Wonders of Election Campaigning in Japan

   Campaigning for the Lower House election has kicked off today. I hear from some foreigners that they’ve found many mysterious things in the election campaigning of this country. Here are seven of them.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lucky Bags

   What do you have planned for New Year’s? Eat some osechi ryori—traditional New Year’s dishes—or go to a shrine for hatsumoude—the traditional first visit of the year? How about taking part in the traditional rush for some fukubukuro? What’s fukubukuro you ask?

   They are known as “lucky bags” or “mystery bags” in English, and are bags filled with a certain number of products, sold at a cost much lower than the combined retail prices of the products concealed inside. They can be found at certain department stores, clothing stores, and electronics stores from New Year’s Day onward until they sell out. If you like a bargain, it’s the thing for you!