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Posts tagged Nagano

Hakuba – Part 2

lake aoki aokiko hakuba nagano japan fall autumn colors koyo

I can’t imagine Lake Aoki (青木湖) being any more beautiful than it is in October. That said, October is when the fewest people are there. The lake was empty when we weren’t on it. We took a break on the banks and skipped some rocks. With no wind, the rock skipping was very successful.

hakuba aoki lake aokiko

The surface of Lake Aoki was like glass, and from our vantage point in the canoes we could see large fish in the clear water.

hakuba nagano japan ski lift fall happo-one Skifield Kokusai chairlift

We ate lunch at the bottom of the chairlift on Happo-One. The colors were great, and an occasional paraglider came over the ridge. The mountain side was covered in ススキ (Japanese pampas grass).

Hakuba – Part 1

hakuba ski jump

We did our first, overnight excursion in Japan as a family last week. We took an 8 a.m. bus from Shinjuku to Hakuba in Nagano Ken. The difference four and a half hours on a bus can make in your environment is incredible. Hakuba is absolutely deserted this time of year.

The above photo is of the Hakuba Ski Jump which was built for the winter Olympics held in Nagano in 1998. We had a great view of the jump site (and the Japanese Alps) from our hotel. The plants getting in the way are called susuki (薄 or 芒 or Japanese Pampas Grass). We were supposed to walk through a field of susuki in Hakone but ran out of time and had to just see it from the bus. We got to walk through lots of susuki in Hakuba, though, so missing out on the experience in Hakone doesn’t feel so bad anymore.

lake aoki aokiko hakuba japan

On our first full day in Hakuba we did a tour which included canoeing on Lake Aoki (Aokiko or 青木湖) and mountain biking. Our guide, who has been canoeing and kayaking on this lake for years, said he had never seen the water so calm. There was no breeze, the sky was mostly blue, the temperature was a pleasant sixty something degrees Fahrenheit (about 18 degrees Celsius), and the leaves were turning colors on the trees (紅葉). We were the only people on the lake. Needless to say, you will be seeing more pictures of this incredible lake in future entries.

book review of Autobiography of a Geisha

I went into this book with absolutely no expectations. In fact, I didn’t even seek the book out to read. I just saw it in the library and decided to check it out since there weren’t many books dealing with Japan to choose from. What a pleasant surprise this turned out to be!

Although the author is uneducated, she is able to tell a great story and couldn’t be called unintelligent. Unlike the very popular Memoirs of a Geishamemoirs of a geisha, which was also a great book (and pretty mediocre movie unfortunately done with many non-Japanese actors), this is a true story. I got the feeling that Arthur Golden borrowed some material from Autobiography of a Geisha to create his fictional account.

Autobiography of a Geisha is a rich story of the human predicament exploring what it means to be alive. The author’s life is actually very inspiring at times. She overcomes so much adversity along the way that if you are looking for a good “pick-me-up” type book that isn’t candy coated and sappy from cover to cover then you should find Autobiography of a Geisha and enjoy this page-turning, real adventure.