Shōdoshima, Day One – 小豆島 1日目

Kagawa, May香川 五月

Early in the morning we drove to Kobe harbour, and to ferry; our destination was three hours away, the gem of the Seto Inland Sea. Shōdoshima is one of the Inland Sea’s 3000 islands, and famous for its olives and soy sauce.


The ferry ride was pleasant, we had breakfast and played cards on the floor among other passengers. When we arrived in Shōdoshima, our first attraction was Nijushi no Hitomi Movie Village. It’s the actual shooting place of the Twenty-four eyes (Nijū-shi no Hitomi), filmed in 1954. After soomen lunch we fed the big carps on the canal and played on the beach. The weather was perfect for outdoor activities, sunny and bright.


We also visited a soy sauce factory and last, the Angel Road. It’s a narrow pathway which connects the mainland and few other small islands; it appears twice a day during low tide. Angel Road is a magical place; the sea and its waves had sculptured the rocks and softened the sand, and emerald green seaweed covered the rocks on the shore.


The Port of Kobe
The ferry is leaving
Arriving to the ‘Olive Island
Nijushi no Hitomi Movie Village
The Twenty-four Eyes movie’s teacher and pupils
Soomen lunch
Soy sauce factory
At the Angel Road
The sea water was chrystal clear
Mikiko and Otoosan
Our cabin

Twenty-four Eyes Movie Village

甲931 Tanoura, Shōdoshima, Shozu, Kagawa 761-4424, Japan


〒761-4424 香川県小豆郡小豆島町田浦甲931

Mitsuishiyama Kannon Temple – 三石山 観音寺

Chiba, April千葉 4月

Our next destination was Mitsuishiyama Kannon-ji, which was one hour drive away from Kasamori Kannon. When we arrived at the temple, it started to rain again, so Ishikawa held the umbrella like a true gentleman, and I took pictures from underneath it.

次に、笠森観音から車で約1時間の三石山 観音寺を目指しました。お寺に着いた時、また雨が降り始めました。石川さんが傘を持つと本物の紳士の様な出で立ちで、私は下方から写真を撮りました。

This temple is a famous power spot to pray for marriage, and it got its name from the three stones on the back of the building. The place was astonishing; the small temple looked like it was about to crush under the huge stones. The location is quite high, and in clear weather it’s possible to see Mt. Fuji.


Stone steps took us to the narrow pathway between the rocks, and to the highest peak, where is Okuno-in, the place people pray. It is customary to tie your handkerchief to the fence.


The temple and its rocks
Climb the stairs…
… go through a narrow path between rocks…
… and you will reach the highest point!
Okuno-in and the handkerchief fence

Mitsuishiyama Kannon-ji

1407 Kusagawara, Kimitsu, Chiba, 292-0525 Japan

三石山 観音寺

〒292-0525 千葉県君津市草川原1407

Kasamori Kannon Temple – 笠森観音笠森寺

Chiba, April千葉、4月

Ishikawa, another Jinpuu-colleague, took me for a hike one rainy Sunday; our first attraction was Kasamori Kannon. Surrounded by mountainous forests, this unique temple is a perfect place to visit for a nature lover like me.


Maybe because of the weather, there were only a few other visitors when we climbed the steep wooden staircase to Kannon-do. The hall is 16 metres from the ground, and on top of it opens a panoramic view to the forests above.


Near the temple gate is the sacred Kosazukenokusu; a crooked tree, which has a small hole in its trunk. It’s believed that when children go through the hole, they receive fortune, but if a woman crawls through it, she will get pregnant.The famous Japanese ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige has captured this majestic temple to one of his prints.


The Kannon-do
The observation deck
The gate
The details of the gate
The sacred Kosazukenokusu

Kasamori Kannon

302 Kasamori, Chonan-machi, Chosei-gun, Chiba, 297-0125 Japan


〒297-0125 千葉県長生郡長南町笠森302

Niemonjima – 仁右衛門島

Chiba, April 千葉 4月

Our boss’s wife Kumi took me, Kochan and Kanchan, AKA The Noisy Boys, to a road trip, and we dashed through beautiful mountainous landscapes. Our first stop was at the Marine Restaurant Seagull, which was a mixture of Italian food and Japanese atmosphere; we had lunch inside a tatami matted private room. 

上司の奥様の久美さんが、私と、コウちゃんとカンちゃん(通称 ”Noisy Boys”)をドライブに連れて行ってくれました。車は美しい山の景色を走り抜けました。はじめに、和風の空間でイタリア料理を提供しているマリンレストラン・シーガルを訪れました。私たちは屋内の畳の敷かれた個室で昼食を食べました。

Kumi kept driving until we arrived at the seashore where we parked the car and continued by foot. On the dock was a small rowing boat and two old men, who took us to our destination: Niemonjima. The island was breathtaking, full of bird singing and exotic flowers but none visitors; we were the only ones.


We criss-crossed the landscape, walked on the rocky shore and dived inside lush jungle-like vegetation. Here and there were small eye-catchers: a big rock with carved poem on it, a stone statue or weathered shrine. On the island was also a gift shop where we could buy some souvenirs, like postcards and a fishing net.


Niemonjima Island; view to the main land

Marine Restaurant Seagull

598−1 Isumi, Otaki, Chiba, 298-0212 Japan

Niemonjima Island

445 Taikaihama, Kamokawa, Chiba, 299-2863 Japan


〒299-2863 千葉県鴨川市太海浜445


〒298-0212 千葉県夷隅郡大多喜町 猿稲598−1

At the Temple – お寺にて

Chiba, March千葉 3月

This charming place was my ultimate dream-come-true work site! And not only for its serene beauty but also for our tea and lunch breaks; the treats provided by the head priest and restaurant Chao were an everyday joy for us.


The Fukujuin Temple had recently undergone massive changes: the old temple was now unoccupied and all the action was at the brand new buildings. Thus now was time to update the garden; we made several bamboo fences, planted hedgerows, and groomed the old pine trees of the yard.


Every day the head priest served us tea, and Ogiu, Ishikawa and I enjoyed it on the temple’s wooden steps. The place had a magical atmosphere; the old temple with its detailed wood carvings stood on a small hill under a giant cherry tree, stone statues guarded the garden buried with soft moss. Some days we could hear the owl’s cries from the bamboo grove.


Tea time
The old temple
The new temple
New fence and lawn
New fence and plants
The old temple’s garden
New fence and lawn
The rope details

Fukujuin Temple

694, Kawadocho, Chuo Ward, Chiba, 260-0802 Japan


2512, Oyumicho, Chuo Ward, Chiba, 260-0813, Japan


〒260-0802 千葉県千葉市中央区川戸町694


〒260-0813 千葉県千葉市中央区生実町2512

Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum’s Park – DIC川村記念美術館の公園

Chiba, March3月 千葉

We had to postpone hanami because of the rain and go for indoor activity instead; Mai, Yamamoto, Endo, Ishikawa and I headed to the Kawamura Memorial DIC Art Museum. For garden maniacs, this can be especially interesting because of its location. All around the building is greenery: not just forest but 10 hectare park area with its green lawns, pond and flower gardens.


The park’s 250 cherry trees were almost in full bloom, and when the rain eased, we could enjoy the scenery. This park – like many others in Japan – is a perfect place to visit during all seasons; there are always different flowers blossoming, and not to mention the autumn foliage.


We ended our tour at Italian restaurant Belvedere, where Endo bought us lunch; he was joyful because of the recent bonuses from Jinpuu, and Kikuchi also paid our museum fees.


At the Belvedere

Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art

631, Sakado, Sakura, Chiba, 285-8505 Japan


631, Sakado, Sakura, Chiba, 285-0078


〒285-8505 千葉県佐倉市坂戸631


〒285-0078 千葉県佐倉市坂戸631 dic川村記念美術館敷地内

Mobara Park – 茂原公園

Chiba, March3月 千葉

This park is one of Japan’s 100 best places to experience sakura. My timing obviously wasn’t the best; when I visited the park, only two of their 2 850 cherry trees were blooming. But the bright side was that there was only me and four or so other people far on the horizon enjoying it.


Even without the cherry blossoms there is a lot to see; the serene Lake Benten with its carps, lazy turtles and various birds, cinnabar-red lacquer bridges, early spring flowers and enough benches to study them or just to sit and relax.


The landscape is versatile; you can walk around and over the lake, or have more intensive hike through the paths on the hills. From the top of the hill opens a nice bird’s-eye-view to the park and the surrounding residential area.

公園ではいろんな風景を楽しむことができます。湖の周囲を歩いたり、橋を渡ったり、丘の小道をハイキングするのもオススメです。 丘の上からは、公園と周辺の住宅街を眺めることができます。

The Bentendou
The hiking path climbs high on the hills

Mobara Park

1325-1 Takashi, Mobara, Chiba, 297-0029 Japan


〒297-0029 千葉県茂原市高師1325-1

Escaping winter to Gran Canaria 2 – グラン・カナリア島へ逃避する冬 2

Spain, Januaryスペイン 1月

We took a water taxi from Arguineguín to Puerto del Mogan; once again we were lucky, and the boat was completely empty. The ride took a little over an hour, and we could admire the rocky island from the sea. When we arrived at the town, we wandered through its narrow alleys until it was time to eat lunch. From Puerto del Mogan to Playa del Cura we traveled by bus. It was a wild experience; the driver sped full speed on the narrow serpentine road which squirmed at the hillside.


Keen to explore the island’s unfamiliar flora and fauna, we headed for the Botanical Garden of Maspalomas. The garden was free, and we had a nice picnic there amid colourful butterflies, flowers, cactuses and birds. Short distance from there was Maspalomas beach and the sand dunes, so we visited them as well. The dunes are protected Nature Reserve Space.


The boat trip to Puerto del Mogan
Parque Botánico De Maspalomas
Playa de Maspalomas beach

Parque Botánico De Maspalomas

Av. Touroperador Neckermann, 2, 35100 Maspalomas, Las Palmas, Spain

Playa de Maspalomas Sand Dunes

35100 Maspalomas, Las Palmas, Spain

Escaping winter to Gran Canaria 1 – グラン・カナリア島へ逃避する冬 1

Spain, Januaryスペイン 1月

The Canarian Islands have the perfect winter time weather for Scandinavians; the temperature during daytime is around 20 degrees. The islands are very popular among Finnish, Norwegian and German retired citizens. We too like the quiet life, nature, fresh fruits and seafood. 


We rented a flat with a kitchen and a big balcony from peaceful Playa del Cura. Every day we walked nearby marketplace, where we bought a lot of delicious organic fruits: oranges, pomegranates, grapes, avocados, papayas, coconuts and melons. Lunches and dinners we ate at local restaurants, which menus were full of seafood; our favourite dish was fishplate with Dover sole, swordfish, salmon and squid with salad and Canarian potatoes.


At the evenings we watched the sunset and enjoyed our balcony. Playa del Cura resembled amphitheater: the surrounding hills were filled with buildings, and in the opposite was the sea. Our flat was high on the hill, and we had a beautiful view. We also had a new friend, when Eurasian collared dove visited our balcony to eat some breadcrumbs.


Playa del Cura
The marketplace
The food was excellent and cheap

Tomorrow’s Forest – 明日の森

Aomori, July青森 7月

I purchased the JR East rail pass from Haneda Airport, and I hopped to a Shinkansen from Tokyo Station; this time my destination was Aomori Prefecture. After almost three hours of train traveling, I arrived at Hachinohe. Next morning a local train took me to Ottomo Station, where I met my host, Yuki.


My first impression of Aomori was pleasant; not too hot, but perfect summer weather. We arrived at Ashita No Mori and Yuki introduced the place. He lived there by himself with a cat, Akaminto. Soon we got company; Bilig from Philippines started his summer job, and also Yuki’s friend Kishi from Tokyo arrived.


It was time to have my first Japanese hot spring experience; in the evening we went to Tohoku Onsen, which was near Ottomo Station. The onsen was exceptional because of its mineral-rich black water. I was nervous, jet lagged and the only woman in our group, so I had to enter the spa area by myself. The water was hot and very relaxing; a perfect way to end a day.


Ashita No Mori had guests almost every evening; Modashi, a local musician, sculptor and scientist was a regular visitor, but also other people who were interested in this kind of alternative lifestyle. Together we planted trees, worked at the field and in the greenhouse. Every night ended with some live music at Modashi’s lead.


Kishi and I went hiking at Asamushi Onsen Forest Park, which is one of Japan’s top 100 best places to take shinrin-yoku, a forest bath. The 10 kilometre hiking route was hard; it felt like rainforest, and we were soaked wet from the first climb. This was my first time to experiencing a hot and humid Japanese summer.


They presented the original, black and white Godzilla at the Aomori Korona Cinema World, so Kishi and I went to watch it. The ‘Gojira‘ had its premiere in 1954 and was topical again because of the power plant accident at Fukushima. There were no English subtitles, but Kishi explained the plot to me while watching.


Kishi planting onions at the greenhouse
My cabin
Inside the cabin
Yuki and the next-door neighbor at the field
Kishi checking the cow at the Namiki Gelato
Beach near Asamushi-Onsen and Yuno Island
The 1954 Gojira poster
At the Tohoku Onsen
Hiroshi, Yuki, Bilig and Modashi: farewell at the train station

Ashita No Mori

Nakamuramichinokami, Tohoku, Kamikita District, Aomori, 039-2611, Japan



Tohoku Onsen

21-18 Kamisasabashi, Tohoku, Kamikita District, Aomori 039-2661, Japan

Asamushi Onsen Forest Park 浅虫温泉森林公園

Sakamoto Asamushi, Aomori, Aomori, 039-3501, Japan


〒039-2661 青森県上北郡東北町字上笹橋21-18