[Site News] Updates

… or lack thereof.

Sorry everyone, I’ve currently got a 6-week old who is taking up 110% of my time and attention, and I just don’t have a chance to write or post right now. I’m hoping this will slowly change, and I want to assure everyone I haven’t forgotten about this blog, nor am I abandoning it! It’s just usually between “do I write a blog post, or do I do laundry, or do I take a nap?” and the laundry usually wins, with the nap coming in second.

So tl;dr, I wont be updating for awhile, but hope to get back into it as I get more time back. Please be patient!

Tochigi #5: Mashiko Pottery (益子焼)

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My sincerest apologies for the long wait for a new post. I’m afraid that I wont be much better at updating from here on out, but I shall try not to let too much longer go between posts!

Tochigi’s 5th postcard depicts the kilns of Mashiko, a small town famous for its pottery. I’ve never been, but recently Japan Guide published a piece on Mashiko in their Chotto Zeitaku series, which I thought would be fun to share with you. Since the article does a fabulous job of explaining the pottery and the town itself, I will let it speak for itself. Without further ado, please click here for more on Mashiko and the pottery experience!

Tochigi #8: Kegon Falls (華厳ノ滝)

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Nikko is one of Tochigi Prefectures most famous locations for good reason… the splendid shrines and temples, the cooler temperatures even in summer, and gorgeous fall colors make it a popular place for both Japanese and foreign tourists to visit. I’ve already done a post on the Irohazaka, or the colorful winding road that leads from the shrines and temples of Nikko up to Oku-Nikko, home of nature and Kegon no Taki, the Kegon Waterfall.

Along with Fukuroda Waterfall in Ibaraki Prefecture (also a postcard), and Nachi Falls in Wakayama Prefecture, Kegon Waterfall is considered one of the three most beautiful waterfalls of Japan. Its almost 100 meter falls can be seen from a free viewing platform or a paid viewing platform, and in all seasons. In winter, the waterfall often freezes solid!

I visited Kegon no Taki many years ago during the cherry blossom season. Unfortunately, spring is actually probably the most unattractive season in the area, as the snow has already melted, but the trees haven’t turned green yet. At that elevation, there weren’t any cherry trees, so everything just looked bare and brown. But you could see the waterfall really clearly! I’d love to go back one year for fall colors, but since everyone else in Japan tends to have that same plan, it can be the most crowded season then as well. Maybe summer, like it is pictured in the postcard, is best!

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Kegon no Taki

Hokkaido #8: Odori Park (大通公園)

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Odori Park is a large strip of green park in Sapporo, Hokkaido which separates the city and provides a nice, relaxing area in the city center. In the winter, the Sapporo snow festival takes place in this park, while in other seasons various flowers bloom and other events are held. At the head of the park stands the Sapporo TV Tower, which has an observation deck for good views over Sapporo.

When I visited, I was more interested in seeing the Clock Tower and the old red-brick Prefectural Building that I didn’t spend much time here. Also, they were setting up for some kind of event while I was there, so I just took the one picture of the clock tower and moved on! Sapporo is on my “must visit again” list, so one year maybe I’ll get the chance to retake this picture with the 2016 postcard!

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My one Odori Park picture

Miyazaki #8: Aoshima Shrine (青島神社)

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Tomorrow the new postcards are released into post offices across Japan, so to kick off that exciting event, here’s some information about Miyazaki’s newest postcard, featuring the amazing Aoshima Shrine. The shrine is located on the tiny sand- and tree-covered island of Aoshima, and is surrounded by a unique geological feature called the “Devil’s Washboard” which can be seen at low-tide. It’s definitely worth a trip!

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Heading out to the island, the bridge is relatively new. These days, anyone can visit at anytime, but 100 years ago or so, the island was considered sacred, so normal people could only visit 2 weeks out of the year!

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Around the back in the middle of a small grove of trees is the main shrine area.

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Through a small path through the trees lined with ema…

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You reach the tiny shrine in the true middle of the island. It’s so peaceful!

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At low tide, you can see the interesting devil’s washboard rocks. They really look man-made up close, but they are a completely natural phenomenon!

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Cool, huh?

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The postcard shot… well, close enough!

During the We Love Japan Tour 2015, my southern blogger partner Emma visited this shrine, so I recommend checking out her blog post to read all about it, and its connections to the very first Emperor of Japan, Jimmu.

Don’t forget to pick up your new Miyazaki card tomorrow, and stay tuned for more posts about the new cards!

[News] 2016 Postcards Released!

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Hi everyone, great news!

Today, the 8th set of Postacollect Gotochi postcards has been released on the Postacollect website! I had almost given up hope… can you tell by how long its been since I updated? Read the press release on the official website here (to switch languages, please see the upper right corner of the website). Postcards go on sale starting July 16th at post offices across the country.

Also, new postcard collection binder will be released for sale on the official website starting from July 19th at 7:00PM Japan Standard Time in pink and grey as usual, so if you also collect the binders, don’t forget that date! Here is the information for those.

Finally, another piece of exciting news… the retired postcards are coming back into production due to customer request! Isn’t that exciting? Well, I spent a lot of money on the retired cards but… oh well. This is great for those who haven’t yet finished collecting them all! You can check which cards were retired here, and they will all be re-released along with the new set.

Let’s enjoy collecting postcards, and stay tuned for new posts coming soon!

Nagano #5: Oyaki (おやき)

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Sometimes I go through my old pictures and realize I have postcard pictures I haven’t ever gotten around to posting. You’d think I would be on top of this stuff!

Here’s Nagano’s fifth postcard, representing oyaki, a popular regional dumpling made from a buckwheat (soba) dough and stuffed with various vegetable or other fillings, then fried. A friend went to Nagano and brought us back some different flavors of oyaki, so while I’ve never actually had oyaki IN Nagano, I got the chance to try it and took some pictures.

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Two flavors of oyaki

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They are best hot, so we friend them really quickly

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Hey not bad!

I’m sure they are even more tasty when you get them fresh with tea in Nagano, but they make a great snack regardless!

Toyama #5: Kurobe Dam (黒部ダム)

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On the Nagano side of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, a trolley bus through a tunnel will take you to Kurobe Dam. I was able to see the dam when I visited the Alpine Route (see my last post), but the dam is really at its nicest around June on when the snow melt feeds the lake, and water is released from the dam like in the above picture. Since I went in April, the dam is quiet. Also as I mentioned before, I forgot my postcards, so I couldn’t get a picture with the card and the dam anyway. Guess that means I have to go back in June…

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The dam from the viewpoint above it, quiet without the release of the water

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Walking across the dam, looking down toward the lake

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The lake, still low until the snow starts melting in earnest

Toyama #1: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (立山黒部アルペンルート)

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Two weeks ago, I traveled the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route to view the famous Snow Walls at Murodo. The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a series of many different modes of transportation taking you from Nagano’s Omachi area to Toyama through some of the spectacular mountains of the Japanese Alps. I began my journey waking up at 3:30AM and leaving my home at 4:00AM, driving to Nagano, and beginning the ascent up to Murodo on the first available departure. The Route starts with a trolley bus, then a cable car, a ropeway, and another trolley bus up to the highest point of the route. Heading down towards Nagano, you ride on a regular bus then a train, although I returned back the way I came to Nagano. You can read more about the route and my experience here.

Being a total idiot, I forgot the folder which had the postcards for Toyama and Nagano ready to go. So there are no postcard pictures this time. In my defense, it was EXTREMELY early when I left, so I was just a little tired.

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Bus and people and snow walls

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Past the pedestrian walkway

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The highest point was 13 meters, not very tall this year unfortunately

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Still, if you aren’t used to snow, it is pretty cool

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Official information

Rather disappointing altogether, to be honest. Maybe I’ll get a chance to go back in a year when there is not only more snow, but also nicer weather!

Hiroshima #5: Makeup Brushes (熊野筆)

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Hiroshima’s fifth postcard is of makeup brushes, called Kumano brushes or fude. Originally, the area of Kumano was famous for producing the brushes used in calligraphy, but when the demand for calligraphy brushes declined, the industry expanded to include makeup brushes of the highest quality. Kumano makes about 80% of the brushes in Japan, and most of the town is involved in the industry. If you’re in the city around late September, you can see the Brush Festival, where the used brushes are burned to thank them for their hard work. If you aren’t around then, though, don’t worry! Head to the Fude-no-sato Kobo Brush Museum to see how each brush is hand made and catch a glimpse of the largest brush in the world.

After feeling the brushes I saw for sale in Miyajima, I can say that they are unbelievable soft and well crafted, but you definitely pay for the quality! Maybe one day I can afford a set of these brushes…

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Postcard and brushes