今シーズン初の雪 First snow in this season.


We had been planning to go to Tateshina to join a Nagano wine party. While the day got closer, weather forecasts continued giving inauspicious forecasts like "the weather of this weekend will be the one of mid-winter". It was predicted to rain on the day we go, and on the next day, it would be below zero that means roads would be frozen...

Until last year, we changed all tires winter tires. However, we decided not to drive in snow from this year and stop using winter tires.

心配して、「どうしようか? 列車で行こうか?」等と考えた。幾つかの選択肢を検討した。まだ、雪が最終的に雪は降らない事も期待していたので、滑り止めを買うことました。暫くネットを調べて、これを選んだ。
I was unnerved thinking, "So what should we do? Do we go by train?" I evaluated several options. As I was still hoping there wouldn't be any snow and decided to buy a set of winter traction aid. After investigating internet for a while, I chose this.

They are made of fabrics mainly and are supposed to keep tires from skidding by covering the surface of tires with the fabrics. The story I liked was it was chosen by several major automobile manufacturers as an authorized accessory.

On the day we left our home, it was rain as predicted. The rain was stopped as we drove. Unfortunately, the inn we were heading is at the elevation of about 1,600m. As we drove up the road we started to see some wet snow here and there. When we were about a few hundred meters from the inn, Oh no... the snow got thicker and made our car with just normal tires unable to go any further. It was time to put on the Autosock.

It was not so hard to put on a pair of Autosock after we found flat field next to the road. I found it surprisingly really worked after I started climbing up the slope again. We soon arrived at our destination on the day. One of the disadvantages of the Autosock is, it has to be removed when you park your car for a long time. Otherwise, it would be frozen and stick to the road surface making it break off when you start driving next time. Fortunately, it was easier removing them than putting on.

As planned we enjoyed the wine party that in this year was held at one of the big hotels nearby. Wine, food including local gibier, music and many familiar faces.

When we were waiting for a bus to take us after the fun... Oops, it started to snow...

In the next morning, a thin layer of snow covered the ground. 

Although our important event next day was to drive about an hour to have lunch at Hasumi Farm & Winery Shop&Café at Ueda city, we had to give up the plan to avoid unwelcome accidents owing to the snow. So sorry. I have to go there next time soon.

Instead, we climbed up a mountain by a ropeway. 

On the third day, we moved to another small hotel. Of course, we put on the Autosock. We had soba lunch, did some shopping and went to a hot spring on the way. The tickets of the hot spring were one of the prizes we won at the wine party.

I was happy as we had gone down the elevation much and arrived at the area without snow. That night we enjoyed dinner without any fear.

Bear meat terrine

私が午前3時に目が覚めた時は雪がなかったことを覚えている。しかし、最終的にベッドを出た時には、何と、又雪だ!! おやおや。
I remember there was no snow when I got awake at three AM, but when we finally went out of the bed... Oh, SNOW!! again... Sigh...

The snow was not so much. But, there are curved narrow slopes ahead. We put on Autosock again. Well, it is not so tough job anyway.

Finally, we escaped out of snow road. At Suwa city, we enjoyed shopping at a glass museum before we got on a highway.

This is the harvest at the glass shop.


東と西 East and West

I was impressed the difference between the East and the West in this trip during which we visited Berlin and St. Petersburg.

This is a typical Russian residential building at St. Petersburg. The guide told us it is warmer than Japanese house inside, views from outside look very wintry.

In Russia there is no "West", but an example of the other extreme opposite is a one of the buildings in Ekaterina Palace.

I don't understand how people in Russia view these two types.

This is a building in ex-West Berlin.

This apartment was belonged to East Berlin, I think.

This is the town of Warnemuende three hours drive from Berlin.

It is hard to say what is happiness, but I felt the East is at least not comfortable for travelers.


アートやなぁ This is an art!

We have been traveling until Sept. 20.

It was a ship cruise tour for the first time in my life. A ship cruise is for the first time, and also a travel in a group tour is for the first time since the one I joined on behalf of my mother when I was a university student.


There were many surprising experiences during the trip. One of them were these towel arts that were decorated our room every night. I think I had known there exist these. However, it was surprising that there were different cute arts every night. We could not stop taking pictures.

This is a swan.
Penguin with a time change notice.
Dinosaur, probably.

And, there was even a show of demonstrating how these were made performed by house keepers, and housekeeping staffs one night when the crouse was about to end.


蓮 Lotus


Introduced by an acquaintance, this morning I went to Hoshina lake at Obu city.
I was told it is a good place to take pictures of lotus flowers.

Lotus flowers open in the morning and close by noon. I planned to leave my house at 8:30, but after all it was 9:30.

Still, many flowers were blooming. Maybe, the cloudy weather favored me.

Dropping petals are held by leaves. I wonder when I fall, what will hold me.

On the way back home, I stopped over at the Midori park next to the lake. It is good to watch kids are frolicking in the puddle.

It was a hot day. Nevertheless, I visited Higashiyama botanical garden for the first time in two months. Naturally there were few visitors. There were nothing special outdoors. But, I found some interesting stuffs in the hotter conservatory.

This is a big flower of a big Agabe that reached the ceiling and bended the stem to grow even more.

A close up picture.

An unknown tropical flower.

サガリバナの花は夜に咲くので見ることができなかった。しかし、実がなっていた。 繊細な花に比べてでかい花だなぁと思った。
I was not able to see flowers of common putat as it blooms at night, but there were the fruits. I think they are disproportionately bulky and big to the fine and fragile flowers.

I wish Higashiyama opens at night to let us observe the flower of it.


マウイの食事 Dining at Maui


I continue posting before I forget everything about the trip.

This is about dining at Maui. The locations of the places referred are shown in this map.

For breakfast, we had food bought at Napili market at the condo or ones that were provided by tours we joined. Napili market is a very good market including a lot of organic food.

Lunch on the first day was
at Honolulu airport fast food counter as usual while we were waiting for the connection.
We bought take out sandwich on the second day at Gazebo, and had on the beach. Gazebo is very popular as they provide good healthy food. You have to wait in a long line to dine at the restaurant, but you don't have to be in the line for food-to go. Just say so.
On the third day, the lunch was provided during tour to Hana at a bus shop.
On the fourth day we went to Cheeseburger in Paradise at Lahaina.

On the fifth day our lunch was on a boat during dolphin watching tour.
Sixth day Gazebo again.  This time I was told there is free coffee outside of the restaurant.
Seventh day at Plantation House restaurant. This is a restaurant at a golf course.

Dinner, on the day of arrival we bought food to go at Fish market Maui, and ate in our room. Of course I bought beers and a bottle of wine at Napili Market.

夕食は疲れたり、面倒くさいという日が多く、Napili Marketのデリを買ってくることも多かったです。2日目、3日目、7日目。
Second day, Third day, Seventh day, we bought Deli from Maui Market.

Fourth day, we went to Maui brewing company brewpub. They offer varieties of local draft beer. An irresistible place for a beer lovers. Also, you can enjoy interesting food.

This is called flat bread.

Fifth day
Miso Phat Sushi

Sorry, the sushi was too good to take a photo before eating.

Happy rolling lady at the restaurant.

You cannot order alcoholic drink here, but don't get disappointed. She advised me to go to the grocery store next to this restaurant and buy any drink I like and bring it back to here and drink! Nice and non-expensive system.

Sixth day

Other than those, we also dropped in at Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop as a meeting place with my friends. The sweets are good, and you will find interesting drink like banana beer including alcoholic here.


フラ Hula


As my wife is learning hula at the gym she goes, during this last trip we went to watch hula show three times.

最初に行ったのがマウイ島のハイアットで見られる"Drums of the Pacific Lu'au"。実は、最初は"Old Lahaina Luau"に行きたかったのですが、予約をしようとした時その後一週間は全て一杯だったのです。これを見たいと思う人はずいぶん早く予約したほうが良いですよ。
The first one is "Drums of the Pacific Lu'au" at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa. Actually, I first wanted to go to "Old Lahaina Luau", but when I try to make a reservation the all following week had been fully booked. If any of you plan to watch this, you had better reserve by many days before you go.

After parking our car, we walked through the garden of Hyatt enjoying scenery. 

When we arrive there had been a long line already waiting for the luau. After we got in the line, the line got even much more longer behind us.

After waiting for thirty min. or so, we were guided to our seat and were handed a glass of drink we chose for either of us.

The feast started. The beginning ceremony is, as usual, digging out the pig that had been roasted underground in a traditional fashion.
Meal started. As the first class guest are given a priority, we, in the group of general guests were guided after them to the food table.
Fashion show.
Lady's dance.

The master of the show.
A queen or Goddess?
Fire dance!

A good thing about this Luau, is you can drink as much as you can without additional pay.

The second one is on the day we moved to Waikiki. Hula show at Kuhio beach.  It is performed several evenings a week and free. The location is a little south east of the Statue of Duke. When time comes, people get together around the stage.

The band started to play music,
And the Hula starts.

The third one is at Hilton Hawaiian Village. Actually again, I wanted to see this on Friday to watch weekly fireworks at the same time. But, it was full as you can easily imagine. This was on Thursday.
After waiting in the line as usual, we were able to get a seat rather close to the stage.

My impression is the dance is more exciting here than the other two. But, here free drink is just two glasses, but it was enough for us.