car travel

Numajiri Onsen

After a very early Christmas Party and getting my snow tires changed, I set out from Sanjo on Saturday morning for Fukushima Prefecture. My goal was Numajiri Onsen, a natural hot spring in the mountains. I have been wanting to go ever since I found out about it here. The reason is that unlike most onsen in Japan, you can visit and bathe in the natural, unrefined source of the spring. Usually, when you go to an onsen, you pay an entrance fee into a specific bath that has water piped in from the nearby spring. While this is still a great experience, the source itself is usually inaccessible. So I was pretty jazzed about the chance to visit this place.

I took route 459 from Gosen in Niigata across Honshu to Fukushima, which sits on the eastern half of the island. Rather than spending money on the expressway, I opted for this route which parallels the expressway, but which is craaaaazy narrow and windy. I took me 4 1/2 hours to get from Sanjo in Niigata to Numajiri in Fukushima, arriving at 2 pm where I was to start out for the hike.

Numajiri Ski Area

Japan Murakami travel


fall topbar

Fall Path最近の週末は快かった. 『日本国』(昔の漢字は日本國)という山に登った。『日本国』といわれている山はとても面白いと思った。『日本国やま』、『日本国さん』じゃなくて、『日本国』だけです。僕の理解は、数百年前将軍がこれこら日本だとおっしゃいましたから、今までも日本国と言われました。

それから、山の名前の面白さから、ほかのALTと登りにいきました。 555メートルだけだから、2時間以下ぐらいかかりました。粟島と日本海がよく見えて、紅葉を楽しみました。

with katrina on nihonkoku

shamisen dudeその夜、初めての三味線のコンサートへ見に行きました。このブログのタイトルは三味線という楽器より名前があるのに、僕は三味線を聞いたことがなかった。でも、とても喜んで感動してよかったです。津軽三味線を弾いた男は小林史佳でした。とてもかっこい男だと思ったよ。若いのに、とても上手そうでした。私は三味線にあまり詳しくないけど、とても喜んでびっくりしました。コンサートの所も雰囲をよくしました。関川村の渡邉邸で伝統的な感じがありました。いい経験でしたよ。あったかい炭火の近くに座ってから、服がなつかしいにおいになりました。とてもいいにおいだったので、そのを着ると寝ました。

chris shamisen fire


Japan travel

The Real Deal

fall topbar

Fall PathMy weekend was incredibly pleasant. I climbed a mountain called “nihonkoku” (日本国) which is interesting because it means “Japan.” It’s not “Japan Mountain” or “Mount Japan,” but just “Japan.” From what I understand, hundreds of years ago when the border of control by the shogun only extended to the north reaches of this prefecture, nihonkoku and the ridgeline separating its northern and southern watersheds was the dividing line. Hence, the tribes to the north referred to the single mountain as a landmark representing Japan, and the name stuck. This is a great example of synecdoche!

Anyway, intrigued by such an interesting name, I set out to climb it, taking another ALT in Murakami along with me. It’s only 555 meters tall, or about 1800 feet, so it only took us a little under two hours round trip (the mountain guide book I was using said 3 1/2!). We got some great views of the Japan Sea and Awashima Island and the quickly fading red and yellow leaves. Plus, now I have something interesting to bring up during awkward silences in conversation with Japanese friends.

car JET Murakami travel


Awesome sunset


最近の週末は新潟県チャリティーミュージカルの第二の練習でした。僕は、『不思議な国のアリス』のプレーに参加しています。実はプレーの名前は『Alice in Japan』です。僕は白いラビットに出ています。毎年、新潟県内のALTはミュージカルを発表して、売上金でパプアニューギニアの学校を手伝うようにしています。一月と二月に、9回ぐらい発表して、三月の末に一緒にパプアニューギニアに行って、学校を建てます。

三周前、第一の練習するため、他の村上市に住んでいるALTさんと一緒に上越市へ 運転しみした。私とクリスとリードとカトリーナは僕の車に入って、高速道路でズームしてしまいました。



Robot man



When you meet someone
you never dreamed you’d meet
you’re taken by surprise,
so you haven’t made up
any fantasies
and you’re not let down.




car JET Murakami travel

Sweet times

Awesome sunset

Kind of a meaningless title, but I guess it’s appropriate. I’ve finally kicked the cold I have been struggling with, and today after work I almost felt as if I was now in a recognizable routine. I filled up with gas, and bought fuel oil, and threw away some bottles and cans, and finished some other errands.

Last weekend was the second rehearsal for the Niigata Charity Musical. I am participating in a production of Alice in Wonderland (called Alice in Japan due to copyright issues) with about 25 other ALTs from the prefecture. I am playing the White Rabbit. Each year the ALT’s in the prefecture put on a musical and use the proceeds to help schools in Papua New Guinea. During January and February, we will put on about nine performances, then at the end of March, we will fly to Papua New Guinea for two weeks and help build a school, or something along those lines.

Three weeks ago, we drove down to Joetsu, toward the southern end of the Prefecture for our first rehearsal. Me, Chris, Reed, and Katrina hopped in my car and zoomed on the expressway.