Skip to main content

Hiking in the Japan Alps: Getting There















We returned early from the Japan Alps due to the typhoon, but needed to finish up our visit with a good friend before I could sit down to write. He's back home now, and after a morning sweating it at the farm I'm back at the computer.

Our trip was fantastic, although the trails were at times harrowing and hair-raising. We didn't know about the typhoon until we got to the second hut, and then there were the chains on the trails and the unstable rock field we crossed. (The copious amounts of what looked remarkably like bear scat on the trail seemed tame in comparison.) Beautiful, but the experience is slightly overshadowed by the fact that I spent large chunks being terrified. I'm glad to be home in Tokyo getting dirty on level ground again.















Getting there
As we did for our trip to Kawaguchiko, we took a bus from Shinjuku directly to Hakuba. (We took the same bus this past March, a trip which I'll write up later when folks are itching to get to some snow.) The bus is extremely pleasant with a restroom, great views, and fairly comfortable seats. A little napping, a little snacking, a little gazing out the window, and you arrive in no time flat.




















The bus also makes two stops along the way. Highway rest stops in Japan are lovely affairs: multiple recycling stations; vendors selling their version of local delicacies, i.e. fruit, soba, specially concocted sweets or savory treats; a small handful of restaurants; and often a little park for stretching the legs and the dog.

I lingered, as any vegetable otaku would, near the stands of beautifully arrayed fruits and vegetables, but what really caught my attention this time were the restrooms. Simple seasonal bouquets sat tidily on the counters to brighten and soften what otherwise feels rather institutional. I don't have high expectations for public restrooms, but things like this just brighten my day.

(Inspired by Jared Braiterman over at Tokyo Green Space, too!)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro