Backpackers Hostel "J-Hoppers" & "Hana Hostel"

Enjoy international exchange!!

We J-Hoppers Hostels are always happy to welcome Japanese customers with open arms as well as foreigners customers. Please enjoy international exchange!!

Enjoy international exchange!!

We J-Hoppers Hostels are always happy to welcome Japanese customers with open arms as well as foreigners customers. Please enjoy international exchange!!

Enjoy international exchange!!

We J-Hoppers Hostels are always happy to welcome Japanese customers with open arms as well as foreigners customers. Please enjoy international exchange!!

Enjoy international exchange!!

We J-Hoppers Hostels are always happy to welcome Japanese customers with open arms as well as foreigners customers. Please enjoy international exchange!!

Enjoy international exchange!!

We J-Hoppers Hostels are always happy to welcome Japanese customers with open arms as well as foreigners customers. Please enjoy international exchange!!

Kyoto Local Heros


I always listen to 10-FEET music @ J-Hoppers Kyoto's lobby.
Sometimes J-Hoppers guests ask me that
'Who is this?' 'Who's song is this?'
Usualy the answer is easy '10-FEET(right side of photo)'

But on this month is little bit strange.

The answer is ROTTEN GRAFFTY(left side).

This World(Apr 8th released)

Same timing as cherry blossom flowered, them genius flowered at last, after long years of hard work(?).

I think this is the best album for them career.
When you listen to this CD you will feel live music.
When you listen to this you will buy not other CDs, will buy the next live ticket

10-FEET and ROTTEN are getting major band in Japan(??), they still live in Kyoto.
There is very little probability that you will meet them.
If you have BIG luck you will meet them on the street or Good local bar(?).
I think almost same probability you meet Geiko or Maiko in Gion:-)

Voices of the survivors of A-bomb



Hi there, I'm Mamoru, a staff member of J-Hoppers Hiroshima. Today I'd like to tell you a sad story, but it's something what we - people in Hiroshima - need to tell you.

I was born and grew up in Hiroshima. My grand mother is one of the survivors of the A-bomb in Hiroshima in 1945. Her sister was killed by the bomb, even now her ashes have not been found. My grand mother was always crying whenever she talks about that.

I'm the 3rd A-bombed generation.

Since my parents were a two-earner couple, my grand mother reared me, tenderly, until I was 6 years old. I had heard some stories from her of how terrible the injures from the bomb were and how she survived them like a nursery song.

Now she is 90 years old and still living, but she can't tell the stories of A-bomb anymore, she developed dementa 5 years ago. She forgets everything - even her name - and now she spends her days in peace and quiet in an asylum.

Only a few people are living to tell the tales of the horrible A-bomb now.

Recently I have read an article in a local newspaper. That was about "Voices of the survivors of A-bomb is now in web site". I found that this is what I should up load in this blog to show history of Hiroshima.

The web site is VOSHN.com (Voices of the survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki).







In this website, you can listen 9 voices of survivors with English subtitles, and can watch 18 movies of survivors. In the movies survivors tell stories in English by themselves.

This website was created by Itou Akihiko who died at age 75 last March. He compiled over 1000 voices of survivors traveling with a 13kg sound recording machine and to over 21 prefectures from Aomori to Okinawa for 8 years starting in 1971. I think this website is made from his devotion to leave messages for posterity.

I wish you could feel something about history of Hiroshima from this website.

[Voices of the survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki]
VOSHN.com





A Great Story

The other day, I received an email from a lady who stayed at J-Hoppers Hiroshima last month.

Her name is Jan from Canada and she brought a great story when she was staying here.


She was traveling with her son at that time. I used to live in Canada, so I was enjoying talking to her about the country when they arrived. A while later, she asked me to be of help to find a family in Hiroshima city.

Her friend, Donna had a homestay when she was a high school student. After she get back to Canada she tried to send some letters to her hostfamily, but the letters got returned to her and she has never made it to reach them. Since she knew Jan has a trip to Hiroshima, she asked her to find the family and to pass her letter to the family as well.

But it has been 34 years.
It was very difficult to find them. But I gave it a try with the few informations Jan brought... and I finally I made it to find them!!!

I found the host mother. She seemed so happy to hear the story but she said she couldn't come to pick the letter up, because she is pretty old now and she can't walk good anymore.

So Jan, her son and I decided to bring the letter to her.

We went to her place the next evening.
The host mother was such a sweet person. She showed us with lots of pictures and told us all the stories about Donna and the family from 34 years ago. I was surprised she has such a great memory, and it meant how close dona and the family were.

The host mother seemed so happy and i enjoyed listening all her stories even I don't know dona. It was a great night.


Jan emailed me some pictures of her subsequent visit to Donna where she told her everything and gave her the gifts. She told me that Donna was in tears and as happy as her mother had been to have news at last, and I also heard she is now working very hard on her Japanese to get in touch with her again.


It was a touching moment of the two paths crossed after the long 34 years.

I am very grateful to be a part of this great story.

Such a wonderful job I have!

Osaka Kaiyukan Shark Expo 2010

Shark Expo 2010 is a special exhibition highlighting sharks
in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Osaka Kaiyukan,
which is one of the largest aquarium in the world.


Kaiyukan is probably best remembered for Whale Shark.
Most of our guests go there to have a look at it,
and come back excitedly, all saying "so cool !!".


In the Expo, living and sample sharks are exhibited
and 3D films are shown, which is navigated by Sakana-kun,
who is well known as a finny tribe's goodwill ambassador.


The floor is consists of 5 zones,
[Welcome], [Ecology and Mistery of Sharks], [Touching]
[Episodes of Sakana-kun], and [Message from Kaiyukan].


Especially, [Touching Zone] comes highly recommended.
You are able to touch sharks and rays in the pool,
and enjoy feeling and comparing their actual skins.




This event is being held to January 10th, 2011.

Find out for yourself the mystery of sharks
which have more than 400 million years on earth.

Omiyamairi

I had a baby in February and we took our baby to a shrine when she was about a month old. This is called Omiyamairi, literally meaning "a visit to a shrine", Omiyamairi is a Shinto ritual. We present the news of the birth to the guardian spirit of the shrine, and offered thanks.



The baby is worn a special white clothes for the ceremony, and have a special kimono draped over them.

Kimono is too big to her, Kimono is supposed to be wear when she becomes 3 years old on the day of festival for children of three.

She looks like a Clione....

The next event for her will be Okuizome.

Bike to Kyoto

I had been curious to bike to Kyoto from Osaka since my colleague Pascal came from Kyoto to Osaka 1 year ago.. and finally I could make it last Saturday!

I meet up my buddy around 11 am in Osaka Kema Haisuiki jo(Kema drainage pump station) and start from there.
But I was surprised,because she came by a granny's bike.. though we're going about 40 km today..

However, we were not in a hurry at all and didn't have any plan in Kyoto, so we started to pedal a bike slowly and enjoying watching people and scenery.
We didn't have a map but we knew that we just need to followed Yodo gawa river which runs from Biwa lake, Kyoto, and Osaka.

It's under the bridge of Sugawara Ohashi.
There are always some people who enjoy fishing, drawing and running etc..


Brass band members were playing under the bridge, it's maybe because we had some shower.
We also saw so many people who were enjoying BBQ with their family and friends.
Nice smell from everywhere.. made us hungry..

Took a little break with coffee and KitKat.


As we got to close to Kyoto, the path became wider and smoother.

There were still some cherry blossom on a small hill.

Wondering if it's Kyoto city or not.. (actually it was not yet :( )


After the above photo, the path beside Yodo gawa river finally finished and we went back to car road to find the way to Kyoto city.
I hate to ride on a road because it's not fun and dangerous, and exhaust gas. We stopped talking and went about 10 km..

then,
Kyoto tower !! We did it!!!

and our final destination was..

The new branch of J-Hoppers, Kyoto Hana hostel!

It's just opened, very clean and homely hostel and good location. If you're having difficulty to find a hostel during Golden week(Japanese big holidays just started today), it's worth to try to ask them.


The total distance was 43 km and we took about 5 hours include lunch time !
Yes, it's very slow cycling but we're happy because we achieve a goal and enjoyed so much.
If you're cyclist and planning to go to Kyoto from Osaka, please let me show you this nice cycle path beside the river!

Kyoto Ohara not only temples but forest and,,

The song of spring is over .
The song of Green sunshine started to play.
I've visit Ohara.
Northeast of Kyoto city.






















There is a very famous temple called Sanzen-in in Ohara.
Besides some popular temples, there are some hidden temples and sights in the forest.































A nice lady found me on the mountain road, and took me to the entrance of path to the Temple.
300 of Japanese maple trees welcomed me all the way to the gate .
Green moss was shinning everywhere.
It is called Amida-ji temple.
This beautiful temple is located in the middle of mountain .
I didn't meet anyone except the monk from the temple.
350years ago, there was a monk(founder of this temple) fasted himself then silently entered peaceful sleep.
The practitioners believed that they could become a living Buddha through training in the mountains(even the body dies, spirit will be alive for good).
When I entered this dark wet cave, I was frightened , then closed my eyes and opened after a while. There was no more fear left in my mind .
I was standing there for a long time and felt peace in deep sense.
I thought that I'm meant to be here.

Ohara is such beautiful and breath taking place.
I soak myself into the hot spring and heal the tiredness of daily life.
Rice fields,forests and flowers, snow in winter, waterfalls, and temples.
Welcome to my retreat.



Hike in Kamiko-chi and trip to Hiroshima,Shimane

Spring season has been started in Takayama apparently.

We had takayama festival the other day and cherry blossoms will be gone soon.
What are we going to do then?

So why don't you go hiking to a wonderful mountain?

Kamiko-chi














Kamiko-chi is one of the most polular scenic mountain spots in Japan.
Kamiko-chi has just been opened.(until mid November).

I would say you should go to Kami-kochi besides Shirakawa-go(a world heritage village).
In Kami-kochi there are many hiking courses from beginner to the experienced.Everybody enjoy the magnificence nature.Specially you would be surprised how great riverside's walk is.
The clear emerald-green waters in the river is incredibly beautiful and cold.You might think that is this in Japan?

Access
1 and half hour  from Takayama bus terminal by bus
(Takayama bus terminal →Hirayu onsen→Kamiko-chi)



In addtion,there are actually many mountains such as Norikura,Shinhotaka,Ontake.
You can do a day trip to these mountains.

This is the photo of Norikura mountain taken today as below.















Let me change the subject ,I went to Hiroshima on the way to Shimane with my mother last week.It was first time that I visited Miyajima.I was moved by the scenery.Everything I saw was really fresh to me.I felt peaceful there.





























Actually the reason I went to Shimane is I went to my friend's wedding in Yunotsu in shimane.My friend is a monk.So the wedding ceremony was held in his family's temple.
It was so different from what I saw ever .It was so sacred cremony.


Hiroshima Asa Zoo!!!!!!!!!!!!







There is the Zoo which is called 'Asa Zoo' in Hiroshima.
When I was a child,I often went there with my family.but I haven't been there for a long time.Last visit is almost 3 years ago.....

I can remember that the weather was not really good last time.So there were not so many visitor there less than the animal in a zoo.




BUT!!!I went to the Zoo on a clear day Sunday!!So there were so many people and children there.
The second you saw such a many people there,I'm getting excited!!




You can watch many kinds of animal in the zoo.Besides,there is a place where you can touch some animals ( pig,goat,sheep etc) .
So lots of children enjoyed the petting zoo.Of cause I did too!!



I went there at feed time.Workers at the zoo told us about the animals as they feed them.
It was nice and interesting for me.




They had a bit changed their style of presentation this time.So now you can watch lion up close!
I felt but scared but it was so cool.I had to wait some time in a queue,though....




You can get Asa Zoo from J-Hoppers Hiroshima.It takes around 50minutes by bus(Asahigaoka line) from Tokaichi bus stop to Doubutsu-kouenmae.
The fee is 430yen for one way.

They also have 'Night-safari' during summer.Why don't you visit there during your stay in Hiroshima??


A new and fun restaurant in Osaka

Recently we have noticed a new restaurant in the neighborhood of J-Hoppers Osaka. It's a restaurant of Tsukemen, it means cold noodles that you pour yourself in a bowl of soup and vegetables and meat, in opposition with ramen where you receive the noodles hot and poured in the bowl of soup yet. The soup of Tsukemen can also be cold, and the noodles served with icicle in summer. This is a meal I'm always happy to rediscover each year, as it makes me feel that summer has come.
But this new restaurant has something special : you have to eat your tsukemen in a very particular way ... First you receive the noodles (hot or cold) and the hot soup with pork meat and some vegetables (and eggs in option). Then you add minced onion to the soup, mix, and eat as usual. Once you've had a third of it, you're asked to press half of a lemon on it. Then you can start enjoying a new taste ! Another third of noodles later, it's time to try with a supplement of spices ... Take care to don't use to much ! Finally when you're done with the noodles, you generally still have some soup left. At this point, if it surely got cold. You could then just leave it but it would be a waste.


Then they simply thought about warming it up once again, in a funny way ... First you can dilute a little the soup to make it easier to drink, with hot dashi (kind of clear soup), then you receive a burning stone which is to be put in the soup. The stone is *very* hot and your soup will be soon bubbling furiously. Few seconds are enough to have it properly heated. Then take out the stone (still hot, take care !) and enjoy your soup till the last drop ... :-)

The restaurant's name : Tsukemen Misawa, open from 11:30 to 14:30 and from 17:00 to 24:00, open everyday, google map, around 800 yen.

Your next destination - Nagoya

I was asked that 'What's interesting in Nagoya?' by one of our guests the other day. However because of my lack of knowledge and experience about such a fun city, I couldn't give him enough information. At the almost same time, my friend who lives in Nagoya emailed me - 'I have found a nice restaurant, why don't you come over?'. What a interesting coincidence!

I was taken to a Mongolian restaurant (and this is what he said as a 'nice restaurant') located Nagoya's downtown - Sakae. There are many other ethnic food shops, Thailand, Bali and Turkey,,, and I was not sure why he choose this Mongolian place for our long time no see meeting. But as soon as I went into the inside, I found out the reason.


The waiters changed our cloths to Mongolian traditional costume. Thanks for their great effort, every guests and staffs had a charming Mongolian look in that restaurant.



We were served various kinds of Mongolian food in the Geru - the traditional house for Mongolian people.

As the party become bigger, suddenly unknown music started. It was a Mongolian birthday song. That day was a one of the customers' birthday and all the Mongolian staffs tried to make it great with their strength. That unknown Mongolian birthday song kept on and on and on forever and at last, we sang it and danced together without knowing it.


This is a suggestion from me, if you are sick of temples, anime culture thing or super tall buildings, your next destination might will be this hot place - Nagoya.

Spring has come?

It's getting warm day by day.
Today's highest temperature was 19degrees Celsius.

I could found some "Spring" around J-Hoppers Hida Takayama.




This is Japanese apricot.












This is Daphne odora (Winter daphne)
This flower smells very nice.
When I smell this flower's aroma I feel the spring has come.








This might be the best flower in Spring!
Do you know what flower this bud is?

This is Japanese Cherry Blossom's bud.
It still bloom yet...



In Takayama, the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom in a few weeks.
(about 20th April to 25th )

The Introduction of The Local Sake Breweries In The Region of Noto (Ishikawa Prefecture) and In Nagano Prefecture

Let's get to the point; frankly speaking, whenever I travel in Japan I often travel because it's usually worth it to visit local sake breweries. This time I would like to introduce local breweries in Nagano prefecture and Noto region.

Nagano Prefecture
Suwa city: Miyasaka Brewery (http://www.masumi.co.jp/english/) (French is available as well) Nama genshu "Arabashiri" is strongly recommended

Nagano city: Imai Brewery's "Yukigakoi", literary means "Surrounded by the snow". As it is said, before becoming a product they preserve this sake in the snow for about 70 days to stabolize the fresh sake (100% humidity and the temperature is stable in the snow as well). It says not to drink excessively on their official website:)

Ishikawa prefecture
Wajima City: Nakajima Brewery

The workers are super friendly, informative and generous. They had offered me so many different kinds of sake.
What I recommend from this brewery is "Oyaji no Tezukuri", literally means "Made By An Old Man". This sake is SUPER dry and has an uncommon brown color for sake (originally sake is not transparent, but it becomes clear after the filtration process), which some brewers consider a waste because it loses some of the flavour, aroma and the natural color. When I tasted this sake I thought I was drinking "Shochu" at first. This sake is also famous for travelers from Kyushu district because it is very similar to "Shochu". It is not very suitable for Izakaya thus munchies are not necessary; very thick, filling and heavy flavoured sake.


Well, I don't want to make it too long thus I shall close this blog for now.
If you are REALLY interested in Japanese Sake, I am wllling to share whatever I have:)