This year is the 20th anniversary of THE BOOM, being famous for their song "Shima Uta 島唄 *". The band which consists of 3 persons (Kazufumi Miyazawa 宮沢和史, Takashi Kobayashi 小林孝至 and Hiromasa Yamakawa 山川浩正) from Kōfu and a person (Takao Tochigi 栃木孝夫) from Chiba Pref, was set up in November 1986. They started up their performance at Hokoten ホコ天 (pedestrian zone), Harajuku 原宿 in the following year and came out with the single "Kimi wa TV-kko 君はTVっ子" & the album "A Peacetime Boom" in 1989. "JAPANESKA" in which "Shima Uta" is included was released in 1990. From that time, THE BOOM's music was changing its style and sound, absorbing ska, Brazilian music, Okinawa's sound and so on. They had suspended their activities from 2006, but have taken them up again since 2008.
There are some lyrics associated with their home, Yamanashi, in their songs. ・On "Soko ga Boku no Furusato (That is my home town) そこが僕のふるさと", included in their 9th original album "LOVIBE" (released in 2000), Mt.Atago 愛宕山 in Kōfu appears. They sing, 'Let's get (friends) together to climb' the mountain. ・In "Hoshi no Love Letter (Love letter of stars) 星のラブレター", they sing, 'In Asahi street at evening the familiar stray dogs sometimes used to tell me something about you that I didn't know.' Kazufumi Miyazawa, main vocals of the band, said in an interview** that he had bought his guitar in fifth grade in elementary school at a shop in Asahi street*** and the girl who he had loved had lived there. ・"Chūōsen 中央線"(refer to Chūō Line) whose lyrics are wistful and painful is one of my most favorite songs and has been covered by various artists (Akiko Yano 矢野顕子, Izumi Katō 加藤いづみ and so on).
■You can listen to the samples(only of "The Boom Collection 1989-2009 ") or buy the CDs from the below links.
LOVIBE including "Soko ga Boku no Furusato そこが僕のふるさと"
Shiro Shirahata 白籏史朗 (1933-) is a photographer of mountains, who was born at Ōtsuki city 大月市. There are a lot of mountain photo books which was taken by him. In my school days, I used to hold dreams of going to Himalaya and trekking the mountains, looking at his photos in "Mountain and canyon 山と渓谷(the short name : "Yamakei")" which is one of the most famous climbing magazines in Japan. The dreams still haven't come true, but these photos still cheer me up.
・Minami-Alps Moutain Photo Studio / Shiro Shirahata Memorial Hall 南アルプス山岳写真館・白籏史朗記念館 (Japanese version only) View Shiro Shirahata Memorial Hall 白籏史朗記念館on Google My Maps The admission fee is Adult : 500 yen / Elementary & Middle school student : 250 yen. PLACE: Narada, Hayakawa-cho HOURS: 9:00-17:00 (Entry permitted up to 16:30) CLOSED: The regular closing day is Wednesday & during the year-end and New Year holidays. When Wednesday falls on a national holiday, the facility will be closed instead on the following day. There is free parking space available for about 40 cars. I recommend you to stop off at the Memorial Hall on the way back from a trip to (climbing) the Southern Alps & Hirogawara. The timetable of the buses for Narada(Minobu Station 身延駅 ~ Narada 奈良田)(Japanese version only)
■EDIT (July 2, 2009) Photograph exhibition "Mt.Fuji of Shiro Shirahata 白籏史朗の富士" will be held at Shiki-no-Mori Oshino Park Koyo Okada Photo Museum 四季の杜 おしの公園 岡田紅陽写真美術館, from July 22th to August 31th, 2009. The admission fee is Adult : 300 yen / Elementary & Middle school student : 200 yen / preschool-age : charge-free (Permanent or the other exhibitions : extra costs). HOURS: 9:00-17:00 (Entry permitted up to 16:30) The Museum is open each day during the exhibition. Refer to View Mt.Fuji from Lake Motosuon Google My Maps / View Mt.Fuji from Lake Motosu on my site
The summer season is coming nearer. Climbers must not have been able to wait for it. Though "Yamabiraki 山開き(the summer climbing season opening ceremony)” of Mt. Fuji will be held after about a week, the Southern Alps's season will start a little before it (maybe the ceremony will be held tomorrow(June 27)).
From yesterday(June 25) to November 9th this year, the buses bound for Hirogawara 広河原 operate from Kōfu Station 甲府駅, municipal Ashiyasu parking 市営芦安駐車場 and Minobu Station 身延駅 (via Narada 奈良田 where there is a car park). Hirogawara is a departure point for climbing Mt.Kita(-dake) 北岳 which is the 2nd highest mountain in Japan and a transfer point for the bus bound for Kitazawa-tōge(pass) 北沢峠 which is a departure point for climbing Mt.Kaikoma(-gatake) 甲斐駒ヶ岳 & Mt. Senjō 仙丈ヶ岳.
Be aware that entrance by private automobile is prohibited from June 25th to November 9th in the following areas. It is possible to get to Hirogawara only by bus or taxi. ・Ashiyasu 芦安 (Minami Alps city) ～ Hirogawara ～ Kitazawa-tōge ・Narada 奈良田 (Hayakawa town) ～ Hirogawara There are car parks at Ashiyasu & Narada. Travelers who use privately owned vehicles have to switch to buses or taxis there.
BUS FARE (one-way) : Kōfu Station ~ Hirogawara 1900 yen Kōfu Station ~ Yashajin-tōge-tozanguchi 1380 yen Municipal Ashiyasu parking ~ Hirogawara 1000 yen Municipal Ashiyasu parking ~ Yashajin-tōge-tozanguchi 510 yen Minobu Station ~ Hirogawara 2300 yen Narada ~ Hirogawara 1000 yen
*Be aware that you have to pay, per one-way trip, an additional charge of 100 yen (elementary school age : 50 yen / preschool-age : charge-free) for traffic administration cost, when you ride buses or taxis.
EDIT (June 28, 2009) I heard that there is exceptionally a lot of remaining snow this year, and especially the snow covers most of the climbing route at Ōkanbasawa 大樺沢(elevation 2000~2900m) of Mt.Kita(-dake). The concerned organizations urge climbers to carry an ice axe and crampons which can be helpful for walking on the snow.
WARNING! Although the rainy season has been over in Kanto region, Yamanashi & Nagano, the weather conditions have still continued to be poor. When climbing, you have to put on the appropriate clothes and carry the proper equipments. Please beware of your physical condition & the weather.
We can see fireflies(hotaru)蛍 (2 kinds as Genji-botaru & Heike-botaru) in Yamanashi from late May to late July, especially in June. We would be drawn into the fantastic scenery just as we see fireflies flying and lighting up. Moreover I'm sure there would be a lot of people who would think that the scenery overlaps the images of "Hotaru no Haka 火垂るの墓 (Grave of the Fireflies)". Many Japanese cannot help feeling nostalgia for good old days.
Now I would introduce "breath" which is the music duo of Satoshi Ōsawa 大沢聡 (ocarina player) & Masato Kobayashi 小林真人(keyboardist). Their music goes well over the category of common ocarina music. It is energetic, romantic, much expressive, mellow, latinized.... The first thing to do is try to listen their music.
"breath ocarina concert" on YOUTUBE, recorded & shot at Fujinomiya city welfare hall 富士宮市福祉会館 in October 25th, 2008 (The original of "Jōnetsu Tairiku 情熱大陸", played here, was made by Taro Hakase 葉加瀬太郎 in 1998 as the 35 second opening theme of TV program "Jōnetsu Tairiku" and the full version is included in "image イマージュ" which was released in 2000).
The birth of "breath" in 2007 was prefaced by the fact that they played opposite each other twice in 2006. They holded the first recital at at Suntory Hall and released the first album "breath – Subete wa, Kono Shunkan kara すべては、この瞬間から -" in March 2007. After playing in South Korea & China in October of the year, they released the second album "Kibo no Hikari 希望の光 - The First breath*" in November. In April 2008, the CD single "Dear Wind" was released. *"Kibo no Hikari 希望の光 - The First breath" (You can buy the CD from the left link.)
Satoshi Ōsawa was born in Fujinomiya city, Shizuka Pref in 1971 and now lives in Yamanashi city. He'd learned saxophone at the Kunitachi College of Music, but had suffered from severe temporomandibular joint disease in school and had to give up to play it. Then he entered the world of welfare and stumbled on music therapy & ocarina there. Until now he's released some solo albums.
Masato Kobayashi was born in Yamanashi city in 1972 and also learned at the Kunitachi College of Music. What's interesting is that he was 17 years old when he started to play the piano and had been gone on rugby, soccer & cinema until middle school age. Until now he's participated in concerts and recordings of various artists(WaT, Katsuyuki Tsukui 津久井克行...etc) as a support musician. .Masato Kobayashi's site on "Myspacemusic" (You can listen to his music)
"Time Lapse Cloud above the hill (HD 720p)" is one of the works of mockmoon2000 who has made a lot of marvelous HD videos of mountain, urban & night sky scenes using interval & continuous shoot modes of digital single-lens reflex cameras. The creator's works are being now in the spotlight on YOUTUBE.
This "T.L.Cloud above the hill" was shot at "Yome no Teien (Dream Garden) 夢の庭園" which is about a 15-minute walk from Ōdarumi-tōge (mountain pass) 大弛峠(2360m), located at the prefectural boundary of Yamanashi and Nagano. (The forest road which leads there is closed during winter season(from about early December to about late May).) We can park at Ōdarumi-tōge.
Masuho town 増穂町's and Kajikazawa town 鰍沢町's mayors signed agreements on the merger of the two town on the 5th this month. The name of the new town which will come into existence in March 8th, 2010 from this merger has been settled on as "Fujikawa-cho 富士川町*". *There was a town of the same name in Shizuoka Pref, but on November 1, 2008, the town was merged into Fuji city and dissolved.
***** Reference data ***** ・Yamanashi Shinpō newspaper's site on Kai Hyakuhachi Reijō ・"Kai Hyakuhachi Reijō Junreiki 甲斐百八霊場巡礼記" (the site on Kai Pilgrimage / Japanese version only) from "三郎の部屋 Saburō's room" ・Wikipedia's articles associated with Pilgrimages in Japan
Today's topic is about an author who have been associated with Yamanashi, Osamu Dazai 太宰治(1909-48). This year we've had and will have centennial celebrations of Dazai's birth in various places of Yamanashi. from wikipedia
Dazai is famous for his novels, "No Longer Human (人間失格 Ningen Shikkaku)", "The Setting Sun (斜陽 Shayō)", "Run, Melos! (走れメロス Hashire Merosu)"...etc. He who was born in Aomori Prefecture in 1909 and at his puberty got the idea of being a author, went up to Tokyo and then sat at feet of Masuji Ibuse 井伏鱒二. In 1939, he married Michiko Ishihara with whom he'd had a marriage meeting in the previous year through the intermediation of Ibuse and, though for a short time, he lived in Kofu where there were Michiko's parents' home. In his works that he wrote at this time, "Several scenery of Mt. Fuji (富嶽百景 Fugaku Hyakkei)" is popular. After that, he migrated from Yamanashi to Mitaka in Tokyo, but, every time he had a chance, he went on a visit to Yumura Onsen(hot springs) and so on in Yamanashi. He and his family moved to Kofu after Bombing of Tokyo in March 1945. Furthermore, as one misfortune followed another, they were bombed out by the airborne attack at Kofu in July of that year. In 1948, he committed suicide together with his mistress, Tomie Yamazaki.
***** Reference data ***** ・Kofu city's site on centennial celebrations of Dazai's birth ・The sightseeing guide's site of Kofu city on Dazai ・The article of Yamanashi nichinichi shimbun news paper on centennial celebrations of Dazai's birth ・Wikipedia's articles associated with Dazai
EDIT Photo collection "Osamu Dazai in Yamanashi Pref 山梨県の太宰治" on "flickr", shot by Datsu (You can see Tengajaya 天下茶屋 where Dazai wrote "Several scenery of Mt. Fuji", Mt.Fuji's view from there, a stone monument located on the place of his now-defunct house, Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Literature...etc)
Amehata's history dates to Kamakura period. According to legend, in 1297, when Nichirō-shōnin 日朗上人, disciple of Nichiren-daishōnin 日蓮大上人(*daishōnin means a great sage) & one of The Six Elder Priests 日蓮六老僧, reached Amehata to erect a temple at Mt.Shichimenzan 七面山 by order of Nichiren, he accidentally discovered a blue and black stone at upstream of Amehata river and said an ink stone of fine quality would be made of the stone. The Amehata inkstone's full-scale production started under license of Shōguns 将軍 from one period of Edo era. In Meiji period, Association on manufacture & distribution of Amehata's inkstone was set up. According to data at that time, there were more than 90 artisans of inkstone in Amehata. But we have reduced the chance of using an ink stone & brush in our daily life and the number of them has also reduced. Currently there is only one person who works in Amehata.
Because the Amehata's stone is very close-grained, it is ideal for grinding an ink-cake[inkstick] 墨. The stone is mined from caves, near Mt.Inamata 稲又山, at upstream of the Amehata river.
Amehata suzuri costs from about a thousand yen to over 10 hundred thousand yen.
Ajisai あじさい 紫陽花(hydrangeas) are flowers, which please our eyes, in rainy season. And just today, the Meteorological Agency announced that rainy season had started in Yamanashi prefecture.
I'll introduce some beauty spots in Yamanashi.
***** Nanbu Hydrangea Festival 南部あじさい祭り ***** The festa is held at Utsubuna Kōen (Park) うつぶな公園 in middle & late June every year in Nanbu-chō 南部町. This year it'll be held from June 13 to 22 . We'll see 70 species & about 25 thousand blooms, brought up by volunteers. The admission fee is 200 yen (Showing the ticket, you can be admitted as many times as you wish during the festa. / Middle school age and under are free of charge). Shuttle buses will run between Utsubuna Station and the park from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sat & Sun only（June 13，14，20，21). View 南部あじさい祭り Hydrangea Festival in Nanbu-choon YOUTUBE, shot by Yamanashi "Home of Mt.Fuji" Sightseeing Net 富士の国やまなし観光ネット The blog : Minobu Hatsu 身延発 by Taku Taichō 拓隊長 (Japanese version only) shows various kinds of Hydrangea at Utsubuna Park. According to Taku Taichō, the flowers are in the early half-bloom stage right now.
Rice is made throughout Japan. Especially, Koshihikari from Uonuma in Niigata Pref is famous as the high brand rice, but rice from Yamanashi also has received nearly-equal rating at rice fairs. However, because its shipping volume isn't very large, people in other prefectures have less opportunity for eating it.
Boiled rice of Mukawa-mai
I & my family have eaten Mukawa-mai 武川米(rice from Mukawa) for several years. Mukawa is one of towns in Hokuto city, where there are fertile soil & abundant supply of mineral-rich water from Southern Alps.
Recently, Nobuyuki Tsujii(Japan) and Haochen Zhang(China) took first prizes in the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. I've been surprised at their high-level, beautiful & strong sound.
Asian prize winners are no longer a rare sight in competitions of classical music in recent years, but in 60's it was a different ballgame altogether. In 1965, Hiroko Nakamura 中村紘子(1944-) was awarded 4th prize in the 7th International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition. From my childhood, she has been the foremost authority on classical piano performance in Japan, and even now maintains energetic activities. She was born in Yamanashi, supposedly because of her mother being evacuated from Tokyo during World War II, and grew up in Tokyo.
And there are a lot of pictures which was shot in Yamanashi. Aino-dake, Aka-dake, Fuji, Hou-ou-San-zan, Kai-koma-ga-take, Kinpu, Kita-dake, Mitsutoge, Mizugaki, Senjo-ga-take...etc Let's Check It Out!!!
When you come from Narita (international airport) or Tokyo to Yamanashi, it is convenient to use the railway of Chūō Line (Chūō Main Line) and highway express buses.
The Chūō Line runs between Tokyo and Nagoya, but it is much slower than Tōkaidō Shinkansen and Tōkaidō Main Line because it runs through the mountain region. Kōfu can be reached in about one hour and a half by the Limited Express "Azusa", "Super Azusa" or "Kaiji" train from Shinjuku Station, which is main connecting hub for rail traffic between central Tokyo and its western suburbs and Yamanashi & Nagano Pref. With luck, you might be able to see beautiful scenery from a train window.
There are many tunnels on the railway, some of them are more than 100 years old. Therefore, some old ones was replaced with another new ones. And now one of unused tunnels has been reborned as "Katsunuma Tunnel Wine Cave 勝沼トンネルワインカーヴ".
Maguro まぐろ 鮪(tuna) is one of the most common sushi items and I love it very much. In Japan, it is appreciated not only as sushi nigiri but as sashimi, chirashizushi, donburi (for example, kaisendon 海鮮丼, tekkadon 鉄火丼) & onigiri おにぎり (for example, tuna-mayo ツナマヨ tuna & mayonnaise).
In Yamanashi, there are a lot of fine dining and belt-conveyor sushi restaurants. Though Yamanashi pref. holds no ocean coast, the prefectural capital, Kōfu, is No.1 city in Japanese prefectural capitals in terms of the average annual amount, per household, of maguro that had been purchased (2003-05), according to Yomiuri Shinbun Newspaper. That reminds me, my grandpa & grandma also used to eat maguro sashimi very often.
Please come to Yamanashi to eat good maguro dishes.
In Yamanashi, there are a lot of mountains which are ideal for hiking and climbing trails. We can enjoy fine views as it changes from season to season there. The nature makes us refreshed both physically and mentally, doesn't it? But on occasions when you can't go for vacation because you have a full schedule, "QuickTimeVR Panorama Gallery" is useful.
If it is asked: who is the most famous military commander in the history of Yamanashi? The answer is likely to be : Takeda Shingen 武田信玄 (1521-73). This commander in Sengoku-jidai(戦国時代, Sengoku period) (from the middle 15th to the early 17th century) was originally named "Harunobu 晴信" but changed his name to "Shingen 信玄" when he entered the Buddhist priesthood at age 38. And, irrespective of their religion, he protected temples and shrines. In Kōfu city where he was based, there are a lot of temples and shrines connected with him, a few of which I'll introduce here.
***** Kōfu-Gozan 甲府五山 ***** There are mountains on the north side of Kōfu. At the base of them are Kōfu-Gozan. Gozan consist of five temples : Chōzenji 長禅寺, Tōkōji 東光寺, Nōjōji 能成寺, Enkōin 円光院 & Hōsenji 法泉寺. The word of "Gozan" comes from "Five Mountains and Ten Monasteries System 五山十刹制度" in China during the Southern Song Dynasty 南宋王朝 (1127–1279). This system was imported to Japan in the late Kamakura-era 鎌倉時代 (1185–1333), and took root as Kamakura Gozan 鎌倉五山 & Kyoto Gozan 京都五山. Shingen made the selections of Kōfu Gozan along the lines of them. Gozan belong to the Rinzai school 臨済宗.
***** Kai Zenkōji 甲斐善光寺 ***** There are some temples of which "Zenkōji 善光寺" is the name all over the country. The six Zenkōjis, whose names are (Shinshū)Zenkōji (信州)善光寺, Moto Zenkōji 元善光寺, Kai Zenkōji 甲斐善光寺, Zenkōji Tōkai Betsuin 善光寺東海別院, Seki Zenkōji 関善光寺 & Gifu Zenkōji 岐阜善光寺, held the unprecedented Buddhist ceremony of "Roku Zenkōji Dōji Gokaichō 六善光寺同時御開帳" on April & May this year. Maybe the next "Gokaichō" will be held 7 years later. In the "Kondō 金堂" (main temple structure, main hall) which is 27 meters high and was rebuilt in 1796, of Kai Zenkōji, there is a room which makes echo effects and it is called "Nakiryu 鳴き龍" (Crying Dragon). Kai Zenkōji's Naki-Ryu is the largest one in Japan. ・Kai Zenkōji 甲斐善光寺 on Flickr
He was born at home in Sakaki village 榊村, Nakakoma-gun 中巨摩郡[*gun is a district that is roughly equivalent to the county of the United States], now known as "Minami-Alps city". And then he become an architect, engineer, and professor,and set out not only Tokyo tower but also Nagoya TV Tower, the Tsūtenkaku (Osaka), the Sapporo TV Tower...etc in late 50's. And he has been called "a father of earthquake-proof design" because, though his-designed-building's aseismic capacity was accidentally tested by Great Kantō earthquake in 1923, his building came through the earthquake nearly-unharmed with his own theory : structure system based on shear wall.
Edit3 : Hokuto city's official site (Japanese / English / Korean) ※You may be able to get detailed informations of the Sunflower festival if you follow the following steps : Click the link "English" (at the top of the page) → Click the link "English Translation of the Webpage powered by Google" at the middle of the page → Click the link of the picture "Sunflower Festival 2009"