Category Archives: Uncategorized

Chichibu Pilgrimage 1

Temples 1 to 2 in Spring.

Rediscovering the pilgrimage route in Chichibu; tranquil, peaceful and friendly.

Or go where your fancy takes you

A walk in the neighborhood

It was only late afternoon but the grey sky made it seem later. The days are beginning to shorten.

These are from my neighborhood.

Soba (buckwheat) field in Autumn

Soba (buckwheat) field in Autumn

Chichibu Railway

Chichibu Railway

Kura (warehouse)

Kura (warehouse)


Well (behind the wall)

Fabulous carport

Fabulous carport





another streetview

another streetview

yep, another “streetview”..

There goes another rainy day.

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Posted by on September 24, 2016 in Uncategorized


Animals outside my back door!

This is the story of my week (the fun parts!).

Monday late at night- I’m in bed reading chick-lit by an Irish author and ignoring the very loud sounds of something crashing through the undergrowth that is outside my window. The crashing goes on and on, so finally I think I’d better check it’s not a bear,and get out of bed. I shine the torch outside and see the rear ends of two deer with fluffy white tails. I’m thrilled to bits! It’s the first time I’ve seen the deer passing, although last Summer I could hear them calling out.

Tuesday I arrive home with a load of shopping, and there is a nasty monkey sitting on top of the porch, over the front door. I race inside and upstairs, and it’s in front of the window facing away from me. He can’t see me so I suddenly bang madly on the window and he gets a fright! Then he hisses and bares his teeth at me- so rude!

Wednesday afternoon I look out the front window as I’m passing, and there go two of the animals-that-shall-not-be-named (because I’m not a zoologist!). Something like a “squirrel-gone-wrong”, or a Japanese marten, or weasel family…. Here are some obscure photos of one at the back door, eating a rice cracker.




at the back door

at the back door



Below is my neighbor’s answer to scaring the monkeys away from her Summer vegetables. It worked. The monkeys were wary……







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Posted by on July 9, 2014 in Uncategorized


Time to dig us out of the record snow!

Let’s follow the process of Ojichan (my 79 year old father in law) as he starts on the epic journey to dig us out.







I’d better go and help!





Posted by on February 15, 2014 in Uncategorized




So now you have the miso pressed down into the container, and you need to prepare it for storage.

Sterilize the inner wall of container using alcohol such as cooking sake or grandpa’s shochu liquer!


sterilize wall of container

Cover the surface of the miso with a little salt to prevent mold. Cover with cling wrap (plastic wrap) and put the inner lid on (or a plate).

cover with inner lid

Weight this down with an ‘omoshi’ stone or a plastic bag filled with three kilograms of salt.

weigh down with a bag of salt


Put the top lid on and store in a cool place for nine months or more, while it ferments. Store under the house if cool or in the refrigerator. This is essential to prevent mold. With proper sterilization and cool storage it shouldn’t grow a lot of mold. Traditionally in Japan people would mix mold in if it was just a little mold and of a reasonable colour (not red for example) or scrape it off. Probably better to scrape it off.

Please use your discretion.



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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


Home-made MISO recipe

Soybeans are harvested in Autumn and Miso is made in mid-Winter (Jan-Feb in Japan), and then left to ferment for at least nine months before eating. Miso is made from three ingredients: malted rice or barley, soybeans and salt. The key to making good miso is using a good quality rice malt (koji), getting absolutely all the air out when putting the miso into the container, and keeping it in a really cool spot (under-house storage, or refrigerator) to prevent mold.

Koji starter (malted rice) is usually made by fermenting cooked rice for 48 hours with aspergillus oryzae, a fungus, also called koji-kabi, literally koji-mold. But this is too hard, so I buy nama-koji online in Japan from Tomizawa-shoten. Nama-koji is rice that has already been fermented with the koji mold, so it is ready to use.

Recipe (makes approx. 4-5kg miso)

1 kg soybeans

1kg fresh rice malt (nama-koji)

450-500g salt

Also, reserve 100 – 200 ml of the water used to cook soybeans (‘nijiru)

rice malt, soybeans, salt


1. Soak soybeans in 3 times the volume of water, for 17 hours.

2. Cook soybeans for 20 minutes in a pressure cooker, or boil for 2 hours or until soft.

3. Drain, but reserve the liquid (called ‘nijiru’).

reserved liquid, cooked soybeans


4. Crush soybeans, with sterilized hands, potato masher, or food processor.

crushing soybeans (sterilize hands with alcohol)

5. Wash hands. Sterilize hands with alcohol (again). Mix salt with rice malt (koji) by rubbing between hands. Mix well.
6. Add slightly cooled crushed beans a little at a time and mix very well.
7. Add a little of the reserved liquid (nijiru) to get a smooth paste.
8. Grab handfulls of miso and make into balls.

make miso into balls

9. Sterilize a 10 litre container with alcohol. Put miso into the container by slamming each ball in one at a time. Push miso down each time to get ALL air out. If any air is left inside the miso it will allow mold in. When all the miso is pressed into the container, push down on the top of miso with palm of hand to make perfectly flat and air-free.

press down to get all air out


press a bit more, press flat


press edges down neatly


Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Uncategorized



June is for Iris gardens and walnut trees!

Iris grow well in Japan and there are lots of iris gardens, and different varieties of iris on the roadsides of our country roads.

Here is the iris garden just around the corner from the Ryokami Onsen. (entry is free)

iris garden in Ryokami, Ogano, Chichibu-gun iris, June in Japan




TisSpewtiful heh?

And now if I can find the picture of a walnut tree.. I see a lot of these tall and magnificent trees around on my walks.







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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Uncategorized


Beautiful Chichibu in Country Japan

Chichibu is a beautiful area in the mountains just north of Tokyo, with a temple pilgrimage route, mountains, rivers and hot springs. We have monkeys, deer, wild boar, bears and other wild visitors! We grow a lot of buckwheat so every second restaurant is a home-made buckwheat noodle restaurant. We are really into flowers, so half of our tourist attractions consist of fields of phlox, plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, iris, dahlia, rhododendron, azalea and more!

Stay tuned for things to do in Chichibu with kids, and other useful info in English.


Posted by on June 9, 2011 in Uncategorized