Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




Special open-day at "Hanagaki" sake brewery in Ono City



Last weekend, I visited the ”Hanagaki" sake brewery because it was the special open-day. On the Shichiken Street, where the sake brewery is located, "Mountain vegetable market" was also opened and many local foods of spring were sold.


On the special open-day, you can see inside of the brewery and attend the guided tour of the brewery, also they hold sake tasting workshops. I actually participated in the workshop for the first time. In the workshop, a woman who is a great fan of Hanagaki came all the way from Tokyo.


At the workshop, the participants taste five kinds of sake. I tasted them and realized that taste and flavor change depending on temperature and drinking vessel. At any rate, how hard it is to express such a subtle flavor in words. I was impressed that a participant expressed the aroma of a sake, "like moist moss". According to the chief sake brewer who lectured at the workshop, the only way to become able to express itself well is practicing. I would like to practice and try it again.


And, next to their shop, the special "Brewery BAR" was opened only at the weekend. In the bar, you can taste many kinds of Hanagaki's sake while talking with sake brewers of Hanagaki. Their talk was literally an eye-opener for me, such as defining difference between wind and sake, why wine has vintage years but sake does not, and about rice and soil etc.. I learned the true greatness of sake brewers, and the depth of sake amazed me. (H.S)


In front of the shop, special sake that you can buy only during the event and bottled directly from the barrel were sold.


I bought the special sake "Chanokiya", which is a non-filtered raw unprocessed sake. You can drink it chilled, warmed or even mixed with water.


On the right of the shop door, the entrance of the old tea room remains. Also, I heard that in the shop, there is a colored glass plate that you can see their inner garden. There is a cherry blossom tree in the garden, so I would like visit at the time of bloom again.


The special "Brewery BAR" was popular, too.


The menu of the BAR


The daiginjo-shu is not for sale, which was made with everything in power of the brewery for a sake exhibition. The sake was named "Ultimate Hanagaki".


Three men who Hanagaki is proud of. (From left, the general manager and brewer, the next president, the master brewer)

A lot of Katakuri flowers were in bloom on the top of Mt. Kyogatake

The Katakuri (Dogtooth violet) flowers that grow on the top of Mt.Kyogatake. 


On May 11th (2019), I found a lot of Katakuri flowers blooming on the top of Mt. Kyogatake (1,625 meters) in Ono City, Fukui Prefecture. Although I didn’t aim for the time of bloom, it seems that it was just the right time.


Many other flowers were also blooming along the mountain trail, but it's too bad that many of them were unknown to me. So I would like to know more about animals and plants in mountains.


Iwanashi flowers that I found on the mountain trail. Their berries taste like pears.


Iwauchiwa flowers were blooming quite a lot. They are similar to Iwakagami ones but the shape of leaves is different.


Mt. Hakusan looked close from the top of Mt. Kyogatake.


Recommendation of okonomiyaki and teppanyaki restaurant in Fukui City: "Yoshina"



The other day, I went to the okonomiyaki and teppanyaki restaurant ”Yoshina", which I have wanted to go.


The "Yoshina" serves unique new type of okonomiyaki such as using small tomatoes grown in Fukui Prefecture and teppanyaki using locally grown ingredients. It is located in front of Fukui Station, so it is convenient for tourists as well.


"Yoshina" is a popular restaurant, so you should call ahead to reserve a table. I went there on a weekday, but it was full and several persons could not entry and a staff apologized. For the moment, they don't open during lunch time, but according to a staff, the owner wants to operate as a cafe in the daytime, so I am looking forward to it. The "Yoshina" is a restaurant that I want to go again soon. (H.S)


The restaurant's sign outside on the street.
There are Fukui's local sake bottles, "Ippongi" and "Bon" on the barrel. Good choice!


The entrance is like a town house's one in Kyoto. Such a long approach is not seen very much in Fukui.


This is the Tomato Okonomiyaki that represents the restaurant. (The photo is from "Yoshina"'s website)
It uses small tomatoes grown in Fukui. Their original sauce blends well with tomatoes' sour taste.
The okonomiyaki is really good. I recommend Avocado Okonomiyaki, too. They bring cooked ones to your table.


They also serve side dishes in addition to okonomiyaki and teppanyaki. This one is a pork-shabu salad.

It was cold like midwinter on the first day of Golden Week holidays in Mt. Tateyama



I went out to Mt.Tateyama in Toyama Prefecture on April 27-28 (2019).


The first day, it was bad weather as the forecast said. I set up the tent in a blizzard and coldness below -10 degrees Celsius. But the wind stopped in the evening, and the unbelievable star-filled sky appeared in the middle of the night!


The next day, it was clear and sunny with no wind. I traversed Mt.Tateyama's three peaks (Mt.Oyama, Mt.Onanji and Mt.Fuji-no-oritate) while enjoying the beautiful scenery of the mountains and seeing the snow grouses that appeared in front of me. Those two days were like condensed charms of snowy mountains.


After a while, Mt.Tateyama will be a summer mountain filled with alpine plants. I always think that Mt.Tateyama is the best mountain resort in Japan with different attractions by seasons.


At Raichozawa campsite. I set up the one-person tent in the snowstorm.


The second morning. Mt.Tateyama's three peaks (from right to left on the trapezoidal shape: Mt.Oyama, Mt.Onanji and Mt.Fuji-no-oritate) seen from the Raichozawa campsite.


Mt.Fuji, Mt.Yari and Mt.Hodaka were clearly visible from the top of Mt.Oyama, the main peak of Mt.Tateyama.


Mt.Tsurugi was seen beside the shrine at the top of Mt.Oyama.


A pair of snow grouses appeared in front of me while traversing.


"Zen: Suggestion for a simple life" written by Shunmyo Masuno



Today, I would like to introduce the book that I always have at hand and am reading again and again. Its author, Shumyo Masuno is a chief priest of a Zen temple Kenkoji and Japan's leading landscape garden designer.


The reason that Masuno is a Zen priest and also started creating gardens is that once Zen monks were going to replace mind attained through practices something, and one of them were gardens. For example, those who liked a flat surface drew ink paintings.


Masuno says, "Gardens are made of natural materials, so they change continuously, which is called transience in Zen Buddhism. Transience means "not remain". All things in nature change gradually. Changes are our lives and lifetimes. If you don't want to change them, you will have worries and suffer. But if you accept the changes as they are, the worries and suffers won't be them. Gardens are the place that you can realize it. And Japanese people may have tried to find beauty in the changes."


Below is an excerpt from the book; get rid of unnecessary goods.
-When things aren't going well, we tend to think that there is something lacking. However, if you want to change the current situation, letting go is priority than getting something. Remove your obsession, don't assume, reduce your possessions. Living on a simple life means throwing out baggage of body and mind. Letting go or discarding is pretty difficult. As with a separation from someone, sometimes it might be painful. But if you want to get things done smoothly and live lightly, why don't you start by letting go? When you let go, a thing that newly comes is riches.-


It sounds like a contradiction that letting go enriches your life. But probably that means you could elevate to a new level, which gives you strength and mental space. So I would like to clear up my house during the next Golden Week holidays. (H.S)


View of the hotel's garden created by Masuno from the lounge
(The photo is from Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel's website.)


The calm atmosphere in the evening


The garden of Gotanjoji Temple in Echizen City, Fukui Prefecture, which is popular as a cat temple, was also created by Masuno.
(The photo is from Masuno's website as a landscape designer.)


There might be the "answer" on the page you opened.