Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Obuse attractions besides the art of Hokusai (Photo-essay)

As I think my previous Obuse blog posts have made clear, the main attractions of this small town in Nagano Prefecture for me was its connection with Hokusai and the presence in the town of a number of masterworks by him that included paintings (chief among them the largest work he ever painted) rather than just woodcut prints.  But after I got there, I got to discovering how pretty Obuse actually is -- as though its denizens had been inspired by their town's association with the great artist to ensure that there'd be beauty in their surroundings and lives.

There's a part of me that would have considered my visit to Obuse already worthwhile if, after visiting the Ganshoin and Hokusai Museum, I then had spent the rest of my day trip (from Nagano, which is just a 35 minute train ride away) strolling around this picturesque town.  As it so happens though, Obuse is also famous for chestnuts; so I decided that I should have some while I was there.  And as it turned out, I also found time to visit two out of three of the local sake breweries that are open to the public along with a couple of residential gardens which also are open to the public by way of an "Open Gardens" scheme that I think speaks to how safe as well as welcoming the town is, and how lovely Obuse is overall! :) 

 A row of Jizos along a section of the "main road"
leading from Obuse train station to Ganshoin 

In addition to Hokusai, Ganshoin also is associated with
Fukushima Masanori, a daimyo whose mausoleum towers
above the final resting places of others in the temple's cemetery

Puppet Ponyo preferred to lie down on the stone steps
leading up to nearby Jokoji rather than hike up to see the temple
(and, after the previous day's exertions, I felt similarly)!

 In addition to chestnuts, grapes are also grown in Obuse
-- and I saw plenty of evidence of that on my visit!

My substantial lunch set of kuri okawa (steamed glutinous mochi 
rice with chestnuts) along with stewed pork belly and bamboo, 
assorted pickles, handmade soba, and a huge bowl of miso soup! :O

Sake for sale -- and available to sample -- at the

I also sampled some sake -- and this time 
free of charge! -- at Matsubaya Honten

One of the attractive residential gardens that are 
open to the public in beautiful Obuse :)


peppylady (Dora) said...

It must be nice to be able to ride a train to smaller area. Lot time small town doesn't offer much in public transit.
I bet there lot of small community that offers a lot rich culture.

Coffee is on

YTSL said...

Hi peppylady --

I think you're absolutely right that lots of small communities are rich in culture. And one of the things I really love about travelling in Japan is that I can get to and visit many of these small towns and villages -- not just the big cities -- using public transportation.

Bill said...


A pleasure to read the continuing recounting of your most recent Nippon adventure, with your usual balanced entries of culture, food and scenery...

Puppet Ponyo, I've seen your travel partner-guardian photograph you in more flattering poses (the photo of you in the bicycle basket on the Kibi Plain from a prior trip epitomizes your traveler's ecstasy)...However, the pose in this current entry is not without its own charm and humor. You do indeed look somewhat exhausted, inviting the viewer to continue uphill if they desire, but you would rather rest on the steps.


YTSL said...

Hi Bill --

Thanks for continuing to comment on my blog. Hope your computer's fine now!

And Puppet Ponyo would like you to know that even though I actually carried her (in my backpack) most of the time that we were in Japan, she felt my exhaustion and totally empathized with my reluctance to climb more stairs and steps than was necessary that day in Obuse after the exertions of the previous day in Togakushi! ;b