Yanaka cemetery area in Tokyo

The Yanaka area is a district of Tokyo with an atmosphere reminiscent of the old days. Besides the large Yanaka cemetery, many smaller cemeteries are found in the region. Each of them is attached to a small Buddhist temple. It is a nice area to take a casual walk and enjoy a certain feeling of being in old Tokyo.

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Kozan Takai museum

Kozan Takai was a wealthy merchant of Obuse who made a fortune in the rice business (in those days, rice dominated the Japanese economy). He is known for beings Hokusai’s benefactor as well as being his apprentice. The Kozan Takai museum is Takai’s former residence. The museum exhibits Takai’s paintings and calligraphy work. The building is remarkable for the many secret passages that would have allowed the wealthy merchant and his family to escape in case of an attack from burglars or a rival faction.

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Hokusai Museum

The Hokusai museum in Obuse is dedicated to the famous Japanese artist and painter Katsushika Hokusai.

Among Hokusai’s most popular work is his series of painting titled “Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji”. Indeed the artist developed a fascination for Japan’s iconic mountain.

Famous painting of Mount Fuji by Hokusai

Hokusai made a long stay in Obuse near the end of his life, where he was hosted by his local benefactor and apprentice, Obuse’s rich merchant Takai Kozan.

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Charming streets of Obuse

Obuse is a small town of Northern Nagano prefecture. It is known for being the residence of the famous Japanese painter, Hokusai, who spent his older years in Obuse. The Hokusai museum in Obuse is dedicated to his work while the Takai Kozan museum is dedicated to Hokusai’s patron, the rich merchant Takai Kozan.

Obuse is also an agricultural town known for its chestnuts (kuri 栗), which can be found easily in souvenir stores around the town. The center of the town is picturesque and exceptionally well maintained. Many residences and commerce feature “open gardens”: private gardens opened to any visitor, for free.

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Obuse station

The town of Obuse is deserved by the Nagano Dentetsu train line which links the city of Nagano to the Onsen town of Yudanaka, also known for the Jigokudani monkey park.

The trains and the stations along the line, like Obuse station, are typical of rural Japanese train systems. When the weather is nice, Obuse station offers a glimpse of the beautiful mountain scenery surrounding the town.

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Togakushi shrine: upper shrine (Oku-sha)

The Togakushi shrine is an important Shinto shrine in Nagano prefecture. The shrine is divided in three locations, of which the Oku-sha or upper shrine, has the highest elevation. Access to the upper shrine requires a gentle uphill walk of about one hour. The path to the shrine is lined with giant Sugi trees and the surrounding ancient forest might very well be the home of many spirits.

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Wasabi Farm

Have you ever wondered where the wasabi (this mustard getting to your nose when eating sushi!) comes from? At Wasabi Farm you get to see how wasabi is cultivated and to taste many products derived from the wasabi root like the wasabi teriyaky wrap and the famous wasabi ice cream. The Wasabi beer is also interesting to try! The Wasabi Farm makes a perfect activity for a sunny day. Visiting the farm is free.

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