Obama Hot Springs

12Oct 2017 tomocchi

Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆



For this article I went to the Obama Hot Springs ♪
At around 30 different places around this beautiful hot spring area situated on the coast, more than 15,000 tons of water over with temperatures over 100 degrees Celsius springs forth every day. It’s said that such volume at that temperature is the most in all of Japan.




From Nagasaki Ekimae Terminal, Obama is only a 70-minute bus ride away (Obama – Unzen Express Bus).



Once we arrived in Obama, the first thing we did was visit the Obama Hot Springs Tourism Association across the street from the terminal. In addition to tourism maps and pamphlets, they also sold the 「湯めぐり札」 Yu-meguri-fuda



It’s a bargain at 1,300 yen! You get two entrances to private hot springs (like at hotels or ryokans) and two entrances to outdoor, public hot springs! (One person can use the card for 4 total entrances, or two people can use it for two entrances each)



This time I enjoyed two different hot springs, and on top of that I did some research on some delicious gourmet dishes and some popular sweets too ♪





◆ Open Air Bath on the Sea (Kaijou rotenburou) – Nami no Yu, Akane


Hours: 9:00am to 6:00pm (after 6:00pm it closes except for reservations)

It’s 300 yen to enter if you don’t have the Yu-Meguri-Fuda.



Our first stop was here. From here, beyond the sign looks like nothing but ocean, so let’s get a closer look!




Whoa!! It’s so expansive! (〃≧∀≦)

This is sea level!! This hot spring is built on top of wave-dissipating concrete blocks, and being in there truly makes you feel like you’re just part of the ocean. ヽ(*´∇`)ノ



I feel like I can float forever here ♪ (This spring has an abundance of salt so floating is easy)



During high tide, you can feel the mist from waves crashing below you. We went during the daytime, but I hear that seeing the sunset over the Tachibana Bay is breathtaking ♪

Note: The picture above is taken from the men’s side of the hot spring. We were given special permission because we were writing this article.




◆ Rose Gelato



It’s so refreshing to have some of this Rose Gelato after getting out of the hot spring ヽ(*´∇`)ノ Isn’t it just so photogenic? It’s so cold and colorful it just cools you right off.



For 500 yen you can have two flavors of ice cream. On the outside I had mango, and on the inside I had peach. The peach ice cream is made from peaches grown right here in Nagasaki and the flavor is amazing!



You can buy these and even eat-in at “Orange Gelato” near the Open Air Bath on the Sea.



After our ice cream it was time for lunch. Hm? Gelato before lunch? Well, you’re right that maybe we shouldn’t have… but we had just gotten out of the bath and we were hot!!




◆Kaisen Ichiba: Mushigamaya

After becoming “one with the ocean” at the open air hotspring on the sea, we went for lunch at the Kaisen Ichiba: Mushigamaya where they cook the freshest seafood with hot spring water and steam ♪




Look at the hot spring steam billowing (@o@ !!

There were 14 kamameshi pots waiting at the front of the store and it really got my appetite going ♪




Here’s a freshly steamed sea bream (around 900 yen) with a Shimabara Peninsula tomato (200 yen). This delicious and healthy meal is made possible through the hot spring steam bringing out the natural sweet and savory elements of the fish ♪ Just add a bit of ponzu and it’s ready to eat.




The “Jige-don” which is a selection of sashimi from the day’s catch is also quite popular. Today’s included golden cuttlefish, blackfin sea bass, Japanese sea bass, chicken grunt (still a fish), sardine, marlin, and vinegared mackerel! Look at the generous cuts of fish! It was so filling!




After lunch we took a leisurely walk around the hot spring town. On this road lined by a stone wall that felt full of history, this cat was lazily grooming himself.




◆Carbonated Spring (a cider-flavored hot spring)

This spring bubbles and sputters in the middle of a residential area.

I reached down to touch it and I couldn’t believe it! It was cold!!

This is the only cold spring in Obama, which is usually known for its hot springs. Back in the old days, this water used to be served to tourists as drinking water ☆ The original cider?




The next place we visited with our Yu-meguri-fuda is this:



◆Iseya Ryokan

Baths available from 1pm to 8pm (private baths available).

The regular price without the Yu-megiru-fuda is 800 yen per person.




After our walk around the town, we headed to the Iseya Ryokan, which has been in operation for 348 years, to enjoy their open-air baths ♪ The girl at the front desk had a lovely smile.




This is the men’s bath.



This is the women’s bath.

It was so relaxing to view the Tachibana bay with a breeze from Obama cooling us off. The Obama hot springs produce some of the hottest water in Japan at 105 degrees Celsius, and the water is a bit salty. This hot water warms you to the core, so you don’t have to worry about feeling chilly once you get out.

I sweat so much it felt like a detox ♪ It felt so good (*˘︶˘*).:*♡




◆Yukemuriya’s “Tennyo Taiyaki”



Look at these fishy fishies!! !!(゚Д゚ノ)ノ

After our second bath of the day we stopped by a nearby sweets shop to pick up some of these taiyaki with their sexy red lips, and then take a walk along the beachfront.


This unique sweet is part of legends that surround the Obama Hot Springs. These Tennyo Taiyaki are said to live in the clouds of steam that rise from the springs. The flavors include regular anko, white anko, custard, chocolate, sweet potato, and matcha. Even when they cool off they stay pleasantly soft and squishy! They also stretch as you bite and pull away from them!! They include collagen so they are particularly popular with ladies ☆ The popular sweet shop that sells them regularly appears on TV!




◆The Longest Footbath in Japan: Hotto Futto 105


This footbath stretches 105 meters along the boardwalk by the sea. It’s the longest one in all of Japan!! I heard that they made it this long in reference to the 105 degree water that the springs in Obama produce. It’s a great place to view the sunset ♪ There’s even a footbath for pets too!




Feeling the rejuvenating effects of the footbath~

Definitely check out Obama where both the springs and the gourmet are hot ♪





Chiwata Shokudo

12Sep 2017 tomocchi


Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆

In Higashisonogi-cho in Nagasaki Prefecture, there is a small unmanned train station right next to the sea. It’s called Chiwata Station.



Built in 1928, this retro-style building situated on the curve of Omura Bay, while being a hub for locals, is also popular with photographers and train enthusiasts alike who come for the views which look like something straight out of the past.

In 2016 it was even used as a location for a commercial for JR Kyushu.



In Chiwata Station there is a small cafeteria. Its name is:

“Chiwata Shokudo”.





This is the cafeteria-owner-cum-station-master Yushita Ryunosuke, his wife, and their 10-month old son. “I want to make Chiwata station into a place where lots of people gather, since there is no place like this anywhere else in the world,” Said Mr. Yushita.



Mr. Yushita, who’s hobby since the age of 19 has been making curry, decided to follow this passion by opening up a cafeteria after quitting the life of a salaryman. He moved locations to inside the actual Chiwata station in December of 2016.




His wife is pictured here cutting onions with their son swaddled in front of her. He’s growing up so fast at Chiwata station with so many people around him.

“Since this is an unmanned station, we sell tickets while were making the curry,” she laughs.





The only thing on the menu is the curry, which changes daily. Today is tomato curry. It’s topped with a pile of coriander which gives off a wonderfully fresh smell. The flavor starts off spicy, but then the umami floats to the top, and the flavor leaves the inside of your mouth warm and satisfied. The curry here is made without any flour, in the traditional way.





There is gentle music playing as the girls across the room enjoy their conversation. Suddenly I hear a few tones and then over a speaker:

“A train will arrive shortly.”

Oh yeah, this is a train station, isn’t it?




On weekdays, the cafeteria is only open until 3pm. After that, the whole space fills with the sounds of lively conversations of the school children returning home.

Elementary school students excitedly do their homework as well as read the books here on the shelf.





I’ve heard that the old ladies that use the station look forward just to greeting Mr. Yushita. One lady said that she dropped off a few vegetables to say thanks for him always letter her drink water there. This train station has many stories like this that’ll warm your heart.



“This is a train station, a curry restaurant, and a place for locals to meet.

It makes me really happy that since more people from out of town are coming in that more locals are starting to come too,” said Mr. Yushita.



A train station, curry, and an unremarkable daily life. Somehow these elements combine to prosper all together.

Chiwata is a town where you can experience stories of an unremarkable daily life that warm your heart. Why not visit this little cafeteria in Chiwata Station?




Chiwata Shokudo

Address: 750-3 Chiwata Station, Hiranitagou, Higashisonogi-cho, Higashisonogi-gun, Nagasaki Prefecture 859-3928

TEL: 0957-46-0961

Hours: There are no decided days off. However, the cafeteria is usually open Mondays, Thursdays, and Friday from 11am to 3pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm. It’s usually closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.



The Onyoku Museum

10Aug 2017 tomocchi


Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆

This heat won’t let up lately, will it? Yesterday, I got to “bathe in sound” in cool mountains so remote that cell phone signals won’t reach.


(The Japanese name of this museum, “onyoku hakubutsukan” translates literally to “Sound Bath Museum,” which is the reason for the allusions to bathing and water in this article.)




60 minutes by car away from Nagasaki or Sasebo, after traversing roads that look like you might see Totoro at any moment, I finally reached this secluded gem.



The Onyoku Museum, located in the mountains of Saikai’s Oseto-machi at a height of 400 meters, holds over 160,000 analog records. Furthermore, they also have a collection of phonographs that guests can listen to freely! It’s like a “bath house of sound” from a dream.






As soon as you enter the building, Victor the RCA mascot dog is there to greet you!(・∀・)




Mr. Takashima, a representative of the curator, kindly showed us around the museum.

This is a real Edison Standard Phonograph, invented by Edison himself (゚д゚) (This isn’t a replica!!)

He told us that when this was created they didn’t have records like we know now, but rather used phonograph cylinders ☆



I can’t believe I was listening to speakers that were a hundred years old!!

Since these came out they have spread across the world, but in its early days they might cost as much as a house!






Next he showed us the “Gramophone House”.

Not only did they have around 60 manual gramophones and about 10,000 SP records, but they also had manual calculators, Japanese typewriters, musical instruments, and publications all from the Showa Period!!! (I love retro things so I could hardly contain myself ☆)





10,000 SP records!! (゚д゚)

Guests can listen as much as they like to Showa Period songs, from before the advent of the LP, on these gramophones.





Look at these retro drawers!!! They remind me of my grandmother’s house.





Next he showed us the LP hall.

Here are 150,000 records from after the Showa period and include classical, jazz, folk, rock, and enka. The sight was so overwhelming it almost made me dizzy!!



It feels so good to relax in a chair and be showered by the sound of an old speaker. This is happiness…



“…But is it even okay to be using these records???” I asked Mr. Takashima. He said that records that just sit on shelves are meaningless. Listening to them gives them value.”



There is a mountain of precious records in the museum, but let me tell you about this particularly valuable one on display in the entrance hall.





This is an extremely rare sample album from Fukuyama Masaharu, a singer-songwriter from Nagasaki. Very early in his career he gave out these samples to get his name out and they were never commercially sold. I heard that copies of this sample are so rare that even the artist himself doesn’t have one. His fans come from all over the country to hear this record!!!




This is an album for the song “THIS IS A SONG FOR COCA-COLA” which was part of a commercial in 1980 and features Yazawa Eikichi.



…But if you look really closely at the record on the bottom, you can see that it’s missing an “A”. Only after it had been printed was this discovered and then was reprinted with the “A”. That makes the bottom one an especially rare first edition!!





Here is there event hall which occasionally hosts live performances. There are 15 sets of speakers from the 1950s to the 2000s on standby.



Of course you can listen to records here, but the really interesting thing is that you can have a record playing but switch in between different sets of speakers. It makes it really easy and fun to compare them!



There were so many different types of speakers and they produced such different sounds. Some were mild, some were tight. The older speakers were made of paper and it was so interesting to hear the sounds they made, the paper shaking and the sound lingering. Different speakers really are better suited to certain types of music. The same song played through different speakers can sound completely different.



Jazz, enka, rock, classical… It feels so luxurious to be able to pick the speaker to suit the kind of music you’re listening to!

I want to just close my eyes and drift away in this sea of sounds…



The Onyoku Museum is known for having lots of speakers. I heard that recently two people brought boxed lunches and spend eight hours in the museum! Celebrities quietly frequent the museum as well. It’s also gaining attention from being part of one of the tours on the Seven Stars Cruise Train.


At a cool elevation of 400 meters, it’s also a great spot to escape the summer heat.



Come bathe in sound in the secluded mountains where even cellphone signals won’t reach.

(Cell signal won’t reach but they have free Wifi.)





The museum mascot Yuki-chan will be very excited to meet you there ♪




The Onyoku Museum (Onyoku Hakubutsukan)

Address: 342-80 Yukinoura Tsuugou, Oseto-machi, Saikai-shi, Nagasaki-ken, 857-2323

TEL:                   0959-37-0222

Admission fees: Adults (High School and up) 510 yen / Youths (Elementary to Junior High School) 250 yen / Children not yet of Elementary School age are free

Hours:                 10:00am to 6:00pm

Closed:               Mondays and Holidays (and weekdays after holidays)



Experience the Hills of Nagasaki on this New Bus Tour!

14Jul 2017 tomocchi


Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆



In just 2 hours and 20 minutes this new bus tour will show you not only the main sight-seeing spots, but also the hilly, off-the-beaten-path areas of Nagasaki. This service just began on April 1st this year!
I have to tell you that the bus for these tours is perfect in Nagasaki. This microbus can slip easily in and out of the tiny backstreets and give guests a taste of Nagasaki’s genuine locale. This is very new!!



The first half of the tour focuses on famous areas and the second half takes guests through the hilly areas.




The tour departs from Nagasaki station and first heads to the 333m tall landmark of Nagasaki: Mt. Inasa. There is a 10-minute break at the top of the mountain so that everyone can get pictures of the iconic, bowl-shaped landscape with the port in the center.



After that, this from-the-bus tour continues on to the Urakami area to see sites related to the atomic bombing and Nagasaki’s peace activities. (Specifically: Peace Park, Atomic Bomb Hypocenter, Urakami Cathedral, the one-legged torii of Sannou Shrine)



From Mt. Tateyama there is a spectacular view of Nagasaki Port and Megami Ohashi Bridge. You’ll descend towards the main part of the city, winding though roads amid the houses that fill the mountainside from top to bottom, which in itself is an iconic part of Nagasaki.




There will be another 10-minute break around Spectacles Bridge and the Ezaki bekko (tortoiseshell crafts) shop.

Spectacles Bridge is the first arched bridge constructed in Japan in the Edo Period. Doesn’t the reflection in the water look like a pair of glasses?





At the bekkou shop you can watch the craftsmen at work and also enjoy a little shopping on the side.




You’ll also be able to see Soufukuji Temple with its red gate that looks like it’s straight from Ryuuguuji (“dragon palace castle” from the Japanese fable Urashima Tarou). You’ll also pass Dejima, which was the only port in Japan open to the west during the Edo Period.





This is the Hollander (Dutch) Slope and it is overflowing with Western influences. The stone-paved road is narrow with all kinds of twists and turns. It’s like something out of a movie set!



These curves are crazy!! This tour takes you through some winding streets that most people wouldn’t dream of taking a bus down! It kept me on the edge of my seat!



Inside the bus there are audio guides available in four languages and the driver is extremely knowledgeable about the sights in Nagasaki. It turns out that she used to be a tour guide herself! She was full of information about the little intricacies of the city.



There are two tours a day. The first starts at 9:00am and the second at 1:00pm. The tour is 2 hours and 20 minutes long so it’s very easy to schedule your day around it.



They also recommend the audio guide service to their foreign guests. The languages available are: Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. There is also free Wi-Fi on the bus!



This short, 2 hour and 20 minute tour lets you experience the famous as well as the day-to-day parts of Nagasaki. Please check it out for yourself ☆





2 Hour 20 Minute Complete Nagasaki Bus Tour

Price:   Adults 2,800 yen (High-school age and up)

Children 2,300 yen (Middle-school age and under)

Children under 3 y/o are free (but must be kept in a guardian’s lap)

Schedule: Morning tour leaves at 9:00am, afternoon tour leaves at 1:00pm

Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Distance to be traveled: 35km

Capacity: 20 people (but the bus will only run if at least two people board)

Breaks: 10 minutes at the top of Mt. Inasa and 10 minutes at Spectacles Bridge


Route: Nagasaki Station – Site of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints of Japan – Asahi Ohashi Bridge – Inasa Goshinji International Cemetery – Mt. Inasa (10 minute break) – Urakami River – Atomic Bomb Hypocenter – Peace Park – Nyoko-dou – Urakami Cathedral – Nagasaki University School of Medicine – One-legged torii at Sannou Shrine – Sakamoto International Cemetery – Mt. Tateyama – Suwa Shrine – Spectacles Bridge and Ezaki Bekko (10-minute break) – Soufukuji Temple – Shianbashi – Historic Japanese Restaurant Kagetsu – Tojin Yashiki (Former Chinese Quarters) and Minato Park – Hollander (Dutch) Slope – Higashi Yamate – Touhakkei – Atago – Dejima – Seaside Park – Nagasaki Station (Please note that, aside from Mt. Inasa and Spectacles Bridge, the tour will be conducted without exiting the bus)


For questions and to make reservations contact Nagasaki Bus Tours (095-856-5700)



teamLab: Floating Spheres of Omura Shrine

23Jun 2017 tomocchi


Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
What is this fantastical and mysterious scene???



Every night from Saturday June 3rd to Sunday July 2nd, Omura Park (at the remains of Kushima Castle) will transform into this art space of magical lights!!



“teamLab: Floating Spheres of Omura Shrine & Resonating Forest and Castle Ruins” is an interactive digital art display that changes the appearance of Omura Park through interactions with its visitors.



The people in charge of this is the digital art association teamLab. Made up of ultra-technologically savvy people like programmers, engineers, CG animators, artists, mathematicians, architects, web designers, graphic designers, and editors, they carry out art events all over the world.



By the time the exhibit had been open for a week, over 10,000 people had come to see it. The park has gotten quite busy with all the people, couples, and families coming to see the art.




The floating orbs at Omura Shrine change colors in reaction to the movements and touch of the people around them. Furthermore, the orbs interact with other nearby orbs to coordinate their colors and emit a mysterious tone.



Above, the orbs all turn pink in concert with one another.
Some people might think that digital art isn’t a good fit for a shrine. But after a bit of thought I remembered that shrines and temples have historically been places where people gather for festivities, and that makes them places of amusement, in a certain sense of the word.



These pictures were taken during a full moon. Even though the setting of Kushima Castle in Omura is very traditional, the atmosphere feels so vibrant and fresh with all these people enjoying themselves under the light of the full moon.



Since Kushima Castle was abandoned the Kushimazaki Forest inside it has gone untouched. The rustling trees and stone walls of the castle seem to be breathing along with the lights, which makes for a magical scene.
Wouldn’t you like to experience something completely new and extraordinary for an evening in the remains of a castle in Omura?





teamLab: Floating Spheres of Omura Shrine and Resonating Forest and Castle Ruins

Open from Saturday, June 3rd to Sunday, July 2nd, 2017
Hours: 7:00pm to 10:00om (entrance closes at 9:30)
Location: Kushimazaki Forest and Omura Shrine, Omura Park, Omura City, Nagasaki Prefecture
Residents of Omura City: Adults 500 yen, junior high school students and under are free All others: Adults 800 yen, junior high school students 300 yean, elementary school students and under are free (but must be accompanied by an adult).

※ Non-residents of Omura can receive 300 yen off their entrance costs by bringing a coupon flyer to the venue. Coupon flyers are available at the locations listed here:
Those with disability certificates receive free admission for themselves and one caregiver.
◆Exhibit will be closed in the event of inclement weather.
◆If you come on a rainy day, you’ll receive a special sticker as a gift as long as supplies last (Only 9,000 stickers are available).
◆Parking: No. 5 Parking lot of the Boat Race Arena (behind City Hall), at the site of the Old Gymnasium, and at the parking lot inside the park.




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