Walking around Naka – 中を歩く

Okayama, November – 岡山、 11月

I found endless joy from Naka Village’s winding roads, mountain paths and quiet forests. Anywhere I went, there were narrow, clear watered streams following the road. The nature at Naka differed completely from Finnish; it was more exciting!

津村市・中村の曲がりくねった道、山道、そして静かな森を見つけた時は、これ以上ない喜びを感じました。 どこに行っても、道に沿って細くて透き通った小川がありました。 中村の自然はフィンランドでみる自然とまったく異なるものでした。もっとわくわくするものだったのです。

The roads were deserted, and instead of cars or people I saw kingfishers glistening in the sun, small fishes in the stream, and even escaping baby wild boar. In the forest my path passed the villager’s shiitake mushroom logs, bamboo groves and small waterfalls. The air felt damp and everywhere was bottle green moss and fallen leaves.

道には誰もおらず、車や人の代わりにカワセミが太陽に輝き、小魚が小川を泳ぎ、野生の子どものイノシシが逃げるのを見ました。 森の中では、シイタケの丸太、竹林、小さな滝を通り過ぎました。 空気の中に湿気を感じ、いたるところに緑の苔や落ち葉が広がっていました。

The mountainous roads were quite exhausting to walk; no matter which way I walked there were hills, and slippery moss-covered asphalt. Sometimes a sudden shower from the sunny sky surprised me: it’s called kitsune no yomeiri, the fox’s wedding.


Arts And Crafts Village

3090 Misaki-cho, Kume-gun, Okayama, 709-3407 Japan


〒709-3407 岡山県久米郡美咲町中3090


Snail Vision Nature Healing Trip – スネイルビジョン

Okayama, November岡山、11月

One morning we headed for Asahi River; Toyomi’s friends Chika and Tomoki Koga took us to try some packrafting. Tomoki taught us how to fill our Alpacka Rafts with air and how to use the paddle; then he gave us a dry run in the parking lot before releasing us to the river.


The Alpacka Raft with its under 3 kilograms weight is light to carry, it doesn’t take much space when it’s empty and it’s very easy and quick to fill. It can carry a lot of weight and was effortless to steer; it moved like a feather in the stream. One by one we glided to the water with our colourful packrafts, and started to paddle.


Once we got the hang of it, Tomoki urged us to lay down in the bottom of the packraft, and relax. The river was perfectly calm, morning was beautiful and we enjoyed the serene feeling while floating away. Tomoki’s Snail Vision organizes these trips in various environments. I was lucky to have this great opportunity to try it out! For me it was a new way to experience nature, and I definitely want to do it again someday.

慣れてきた頃、ともきさんは、パックらふとのそこに横になりリラックスするように言いました。川はとても穏やかで美しい朝だったので、私たちは浮いている間、パックラフトに漂う穏やかさを満喫しました。ともきさんが設立したSnal Visionは、このような旅を様々な環境で提供しています。私はこのような体験をすることができて本当にラッキーでした。私にとって、この経験は自然を違った角度から楽しませてくれました。またいつか絶対に行きたいと思っています。

Getting the gear ready
Toyomi filling her Alpacka with air
Serene Asahi River

Back to saddle 2 – 再びサドルへ その2

Germany, Julyドイツ 7月

Eager to pedal, we started a bit too fast; after 315 kilometres in four days we really needed a day off. We stayed in Lüneburg, left our bikes at the hotel and let our bums rest. It was a good time to wash some clothes as well. The next day we hopped back to saddle, and the journey continued through forest roads.


No sign of rain, but now the weather got hot; the temperature was over 30 degrees, and the sun shone from the clear sky the whole day. We had to carry more water with us and make more pit stops. Still, I was in big trouble, felt nauseous and weak. Luckily we arrived at Vaalermoor at my cousins’ home, where we stayed for a few days. There was a magnificent thunderstorm at night, and then the weather was cooler again.


We rested four days before we had to get back; we cycled to Büchen, from where we took a train to Berlin. After 3,5 hours, we arrived in the city, and our bicycle tour was over.


Our route: Berlin – Nauen – Kletzke – Lenzen – Lüchow – Deutsch Evern – Lüneburg – Rosengarten – Buxtehude – Stade – Wischhafen – Glückstadt – Vaalermoor – Norderstedt – Büchen. 

私たちのルート:ベルリン → ナウェン → クレッツケ → レンゼン → リューホフ → ダッチ イーヴァン → リューネブルグ → ローズンガーテン → ブクステフーデ → シュターデ → ヴィシュハーフェン → グリュックスタット → ヴァーラムーア → ノルダーシュテット → ビューヘン

The journey took 12 days from which we rested 4, and we cycled 597 kilometres.



Kiel Canal by bicycle 2 – キール運河 自転車旅 その2

Schleswig-Holstein, Juneシュレースヴィヒ=ホルシュタイン 6月

Rain and thunderstorms followed us through the Kiel Canal, so when the sky finally cleared, we were beyond happy. The canal is 98 kilometres long, and it unites the Baltic Sea to the North Sea. The NOK Cycling Route is 320 kilometres long, and there are several ferry rides across the water. We didn’t follow the NOK route the whole way, so for us it took three days from Kiel to Büsum.

キール運河を走っている間、ずっと雨と雷がついて回っていて、ようやく空が見えた時は本当に嬉しかったです。全長98kmの運河はバルト海と北海を結んでいます。NOK(Nord-Ostsee Kanal、北海バルト海運河)サイクリングルートは320kmですが、途中でいくつか運河を渡すフェリーがあります。私たちはNOKサイクリングルートを全て走ったわけではなく、キールからビューズムまでは3日かかりました。

Büsum was a great seaside town, where we stayed for one night; we find the North Sea with its high and low tide quite fascinating, because our Baltic Sea doesn’t have them. It was like a miracle, we could walk a long way to the sea during low tide, and when we came back to the beach after dinner, there was water again.


Once again there was a thunderstorm when we pedaled from Büsum to Burg (Dithmarschen). Now the weather was cold, so we had to stop and wait; fortunately there was an awesome restaurant by the canal: Burger Fährhaus. We crossed the canal from the restaurant’s yard and headed for Vaalermoor to visit my cousins.

ビューズムからブルグ(ディトマルシェン)に向かって走った時は、また雷雨でした。寒くなってきていました。運良く、運河のそばにBurger Fährhausという素晴らしいレストランがあって、しばらく雨宿りをすることにしました。 そしてレストランの庭から運河を渡り、ヴァーラムーアに住む従兄弟の元に向かいました。

Our route: Hamburg – Bad Bramstedt – Neumünster – Kiel – Holtsee – Rendsburg – Fockbek – Albersdorf – Büsum – Burg (Dithmarschen) – Vaalermoor – Glückstadt – Wischhafen – Stade – Buxtehude – Hamburg.

私たちのルート:ハンブルグ → バッドブラムシュテット → ノイミュンスター → キール → ホルツィー → レンヅブルク → フォックベック → アルバースドルフ → ビュスム → ブルグ(ディトマルシェン) → ヴァーラムーア → グリュックシュタット → ヴィシュハーフェン → シュタッド → ブクステフーデ → ハンブルク

Our trip was 11 days and around 390 kilometres, but we didn’t cycle every day.


View from Burger Fährhaus
Picturesque Stade

Burger Fährhaus

Hafenstraße 48, 25712 Burg (Dithmarschen), Germany

Cycling around Lake Balaton Part 2 – バラトン湖周辺サイクリング その2

Hungary, Septemberハンガリー 9月

The cycling went well, but maybe too fast; soon we had reached the other end of the lake, the flat part was over and it was time to start climbing to the hills. The views on the northern side wine region were beyond beautiful. Now we were used to our bicycles and found a good pace to our pedaling. 


The countryside was charming, and the roads felt safe. Every day we cycled through magnificent sceneries; the autumn fields continued to the horizon, cute cottages and a lot of different kinds of farm animals spotted our way. Sometimes we found an attractive town or nice spa resort and spent a night or two. Our favourite place was a small spa town Hévíz, which has the second largest thermal lake in the world. Conveniently it was raining, so we decided to stay there, and enjoy the warmth of the lake.

田舎は魅力的で、安心できる道でした。 毎日、壮大な景色の中をサイクリングしました。 秋の畑は地平線まで続き、かわいいコテージと様々な種類の家畜たちが所々に現れました。ときどき気になる町や素敵なスパリゾートを見つけて、1、2泊しました。私たちが気に入ったのは、世界で2番目に大きな温泉湖がある小さな温泉街ヘーヴィーズです。都合良く雨が降っていたので、町に留まって湖の暖かさを楽しむことにしました。

For a first-timer our cycling journey was a success. We didn’t have any trouble, if occasional flat tires or flying ants on the way back to Budapest doesn’t count.


Our route: Budapest – Gardony – Siófok – Keszthely – Hévíz – Tapolca – Veszprém – Székesfehérvár – Gardony – Budapest. It took 11 days, Hévíz was the only place we stayed two nights. Total kilometres was around 430.

私たちの道のり:ブダペスト → ガールドニ → シーオフォク → ケストヘイ → ヘーヴィーズ → タポルツァ → ヴェスプリーム → セーケシュフェヘールヴァール → ガールドニ → ブダペスト 11日間の旅で、2泊したのはヘーヴィーズだけです。 総距離は約430kmでした。

Puli, interesting looking Hungarian dog breedwhich end is the head?
Picturesque town of Tapolca
Tópart Bisztró
Beautiful Veszprém
The view from the Castle Hill Veszprémi Várhegy

Tópart Bisztró

Arany János u. 1, Tapolca, 8300 Hungary

Veszprém Castle

József Attila u. 40, Veszprém, 8200 Hungary

Thermal Lake of Hévíz

Csokonai u. 3, Hévíz, 8380 Hungary

Cycling around Lake Balaton Part 1 – バラトン湖周辺サイクリング その1

Hungary, Septemberハンガリー 9月

We started our cycling holiday from Budapest, where we stayed one night and rented our bicycles. Next morning, full of joy, we packed our gear and headed for lake Balaton. Hungary is one of our favourite destinations, and for years I had dreamed about conquering this lake! Finally, it was real.

ブダペストで1泊し、自転車を借りて、私たちのサイクリング・ホリデーが始まりました。翌朝、喜びいっぱいに荷物をまとめて、バラトン湖に向かいました。 ハンガリーは私たちのお気に入りの目的地の1つですが、何年もの間、この湖を制覇することを夢見ていました! それがついに実現したのです。

This was our first bike trip, and we were excited to see how we can manage; we are not very athletic persons and we cycle only for fun during summer. We didn’t make any schedules or booked hotels in advance, but more like drifted from one place to the next one. It was off season, so there weren’t a lot of tourists.


It took us two days to reach the lake; when we saw it for the first time, glimmering through the tree leafs, was a magical moment. Balaton is the biggest lake in Central Europe, it is 77 kilometres long, quite shallow and has a beautiful turquoise colour. It’s one of the most popular holiday resorts in Hungary, and I can totally understand why; around the lake there are a lot of nice hotels, restaurants and cafes, and the nature is spectacular.


Sunset at lake Valencia
Charming Hotel Kentaur
Our route choices were sometimes interesting

Hotel Kentaur

Akácfa u. 1, Siófok, 8600 Hungary

Shōdoshima, Day Two – 小豆島 2日目

Kagawa, May香川 5月

Our accommodation was comfortable; the cabin had a kitchen/living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a balcony with a great view to the sea. Near was a hot spring, which we visited before going to sleep, so we could wake up refreshed to the new day.


After breakfast we said goodbye to our lovely cabin and drove off to see the day’s first sight: senmaida, ‘one thousand rice fields’ arranged like tiny shelves on top of each other on the hillside. Probably because I come from a very flat country, everything related to mountains are enchanting for me, but these fields! How is it possible to cultivate them?


Next we visited the Shōdoshima Olive Park, which was like a small piece of Greek with its beautiful flower and herb beds, olive groves and shiny-white buildings. They also have Studio Ghibli’s Kiki’s Delivery Service herb shop Corico that was a must-see for Chihiro and me.

次に、小豆島オリーブ公園を訪れました。美しい花とハーブの花だん、オリーブの木立、輝くような白い建物があって、そこはまるでギリシャの一角のようでした。スタジオジブリ「魔女の宅急便」の映画のロケセットがあるハーブショップ コリコは、千尋と私には必見の場所でした。

Sunrise from our cabin
Senmaida fields
At the Olive Park
Kiki’s Delivery Service herb shop Corico

Shōdoshima Olive Park

1941-1, Kagawa, Shozu-gun, Shōdoshima, Nishimura, 761-4434 Japan

道の駅 小豆島オリーブ公園

〒761-4434 香川県小豆郡小豆島町西村甲1941-1

Shōdoshima, Day One – 小豆島 1日目

Kagawa, May香川 五月

Early in the morning we drove to Kobe harbour, and to ferry; our destination was three hours away, the gem of the Seto Inland Sea. Shōdoshima is one of the Inland Sea’s 3000 islands, and famous for its olives and soy sauce.


The ferry ride was pleasant, we had breakfast and played cards on the floor among other passengers. When we arrived in Shōdoshima, our first attraction was Nijushi no Hitomi Movie Village. It’s the actual shooting place of the Twenty-four eyes (Nijū-shi no Hitomi), filmed in 1954. After soomen lunch we fed the big carps on the canal and played on the beach. The weather was perfect for outdoor activities, sunny and bright.


We also visited a soy sauce factory and last, the Angel Road. It’s a narrow pathway which connects the mainland and few other small islands; it appears twice a day during low tide. Angel Road is a magical place; the sea and its waves had sculptured the rocks and softened the sand, and emerald green seaweed covered the rocks on the shore.


The Port of Kobe
The ferry is leaving
Arriving to the ‘Olive Island
Nijushi no Hitomi Movie Village
The Twenty-four Eyes movie’s teacher and pupils
Soomen lunch
Soy sauce factory
At the Angel Road
The sea water was chrystal clear
Mikiko and Otoosan
Our cabin

Twenty-four Eyes Movie Village

甲931 Tanoura, Shōdoshima, Shozu, Kagawa 761-4424, Japan


〒761-4424 香川県小豆郡小豆島町田浦甲931

Mitsuishiyama Kannon Temple – 三石山 観音寺

Chiba, April千葉 4月

Our next destination was Mitsuishiyama Kannon-ji, which was one hour drive away from Kasamori Kannon. When we arrived at the temple, it started to rain again, so Ishikawa held the umbrella like a true gentleman, and I took pictures from underneath it.

次に、笠森観音から車で約1時間の三石山 観音寺を目指しました。お寺に着いた時、また雨が降り始めました。石川さんが傘を持つと本物の紳士の様な出で立ちで、私は下方から写真を撮りました。

This temple is a famous power spot to pray for marriage, and it got its name from the three stones on the back of the building. The place was astonishing; the small temple looked like it was about to crush under the huge stones. The location is quite high, and in clear weather it’s possible to see Mt. Fuji.


Stone steps took us to the narrow pathway between the rocks, and to the highest peak, where is Okuno-in, the place people pray. It is customary to tie your handkerchief to the fence.


The temple and its rocks
Climb the stairs…
… go through a narrow path between rocks…
… and you will reach the highest point!
Okuno-in and the handkerchief fence

Mitsuishiyama Kannon-ji

1407 Kusagawara, Kimitsu, Chiba, 292-0525 Japan

三石山 観音寺

〒292-0525 千葉県君津市草川原1407

Kasamori Kannon Temple – 笠森観音笠森寺

Chiba, April千葉、4月

Ishikawa, another Jinpuu-colleague, took me for a hike one rainy Sunday; our first attraction was Kasamori Kannon. Surrounded by mountainous forests, this unique temple is a perfect place to visit for a nature lover like me.


Maybe because of the weather, there were only a few other visitors when we climbed the steep wooden staircase to Kannon-do. The hall is 16 metres from the ground, and on top of it opens a panoramic view to the forests above.


Near the temple gate is the sacred Kosazukenokusu; a crooked tree, which has a small hole in its trunk. It’s believed that when children go through the hole, they receive fortune, but if a woman crawls through it, she will get pregnant.The famous Japanese ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige has captured this majestic temple to one of his prints.


The Kannon-do
The observation deck
The gate
The details of the gate
The sacred Kosazukenokusu

Kasamori Kannon

302 Kasamori, Chonan-machi, Chosei-gun, Chiba, 297-0125 Japan


〒297-0125 千葉県長生郡長南町笠森302