In April, as part of my photography of the cherry blossoms around Japan I visited Suwa City in southern Nagano Prefecture, quite far north of Tokyo. The main purpose of the trip was to catch the sakura around the famous Takashima Castle that was once built on the shores of Lake Suwa. These days the shoreline have receded quite a bit from the castle, and the building we can see today is a reproduction of the original that was torn down in 1870 and rebuilt one hundred years later. Unlike the more even more famous nearby Matsushima castle, the Takashima castle is a light brown color, quite rare among the predominantly black or white castles of Japan. It is also famous for being the highest elevated flatland castle ever built in Japan. Suwa is one of those rare gems of small Nagano cities that easily get overlooked by people heading to the much more famous Matsumoto City or even Nagano City. There’s plenty of nice temples, interesting shrines and well preserved old buildings around the lake that I’ll blog about later on. Enjoy!
Some more details of the lovely early autumn morning I spent at the wasabi farm in Nagano prefecture. With the clean water, fresh air and abundant nature you can easily tell it is the perfect spot for growing the highly prized wasabi. The black cloth is there to protect the plants from direct sunlight in summer, simulating the natural growing conditions of this wonderful plant: in or near mountain streams shaded by lush forests and trees. There were also quite a few shinto shrines about the farm. Enjoy!
Here are some more photos of the wasabi farm I visited in Nagano a few weeks ago. The farm is quite large and has a few pretty woodlots, a river, even some old houses with watermills and a forested ridge. In some ways it felt almost like entering a nature reserve! If there is one thing you need to grow wasabi it is fresh, clean, water and plenty of it! The cleaner the water the better your wasabi is going to grow and this farm had access to some fantastic water. Look at these pictures and remember that this river is more than a few meters deep. They even had a rubber boat out with people keeping the water free from dirt and garbage. I’ll post more photos of the farm in a few days, so I hope you enjoy this starter!
Living in Japan there was one thing that bothered me a little right from the start. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I started blogging about life here and actively looking at my photos, but when I did it hit me: there’s no horizon in Japan. Where I grew up the land was flat as an ironing board. Riding my bicycle to school I could just stand up on the pedals and see an additional couple of miles into the distance. I grew up surrounded by the horizon and didn’t realize how much I took that for granted until I moved to Japan where there’s mountains, buildings or hills in just about any direction you look except for out to the ocean. So even when I get a sort of half-way to the horizon vista, I get excited, like when I was traveling through Nagano Prefecture on a small country road and realized I could see at least a mile in any direction! So forgive me for these two shots of little or no artistic or documentary value. I just wanted to show you what makes my day, in a little way. Or, if you are into agriculture, you can notice the different stages of rice fields in these pictures, with one in a curious state, visited by white birds.