onsen

Atami, a nearby onsen town uses nature characters to appeal to tourists

bender_atami_cartoon_sign

熱海で、自然をモチーフにしたキャラが観光客を呼ぼうとしています。新幹線で、東京から一時間未満で来れます。車のない若い人を引き寄せて、町づくりができるでしょうか。

These woodchucks with their ice cream cones and hair ribbons are irresistible. I also like the heavily shadowed angel fish which decorates a car parking tower also sponsored by “Happy & Sunlight” pachinko. With the ease of public transportation from Tokyo, I imagine Atami is ripe for reinvention for the post-automobile young people.

atami_parking_tower_happy_sunlight_shading

Green corridor zig zags through residential neighborhood, with river and shrine

杉並区の善福寺川は長くて楽しい緑の回廊です。川がジグザグと流れています。このあたりで、夜、本当のタヌキを見ました。

Zenpukuji river is a lovely green corridor in Suginami: walking and biking paths, playing fields, and the large Omiya Hachiman shrine. I love biking by this windy river. Not far from here, I spotted a tanuki crossing the road that leads to a city onsen.

The town of Suwa

During onbashira, we explored some interesting places in Suwa and learned a little about its history. Next to one of the shrines is an Edo-era shop selling a salty type of shio yokan. In a country that often eliminates its past, it is amazing to see a small business that preserves traditions. We also visited an Edo era guest house, which still retains a beautiful small garden in a property that shrunk over the generations.

Suwa’s famed lake is stunning. We saw many types of birds, including tonbi (black kite) and ducks.

The town is also known for its hot springs. We saw this early 20th century building which served the silk factory workers and was known for its “stand-up onsen.” Apparently there were too many bathers for them to sit or lie down in the hot water pools.

Tour of Suwa continues after the jump

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