Aug 30
2011

A Trip to Kamikawa, Japan

in Japan, LFM Videos, Travel

Two months ago, at the beginning of July, I made a trip back to my beloved Japan.  Now that I’ve taken care of some of the deadlines on my plate, I’m finally getting the chance to go through all of the photos and video I took on my trip and share them with you!

Beautiful Kamikawa

The day after I arrived in Tokyo, I took a train out to Kamikawa in Saitama prefecture.  Kamikawa is a 90-minute train ride northwest of Tokyo.

From Tokyo to Kamikawa, Japan

Kamikawa sits on the north western edge of Saitama prefecture, abutting Gunma prefecture.  Kamikawa is a small town of less than 14,000 people—far from being a booming metropolis.  I was in Kamikawa to visit my friend Nancy Hachisu (Indigo Days).  When I stepped into Nancy’s home, an 80-year old house on the location of a house that had been 160 year old, I had to pinch myself.  I was so lucky to have the opportunity to stay in a house like Nancy’s.  These days it seems like most of Japan is focused on modernizing, replacing the old with the shiny and new.  Houses like the Hachisu home grow fewer in number every year as people trade them in for more western homes, or for apartments in high-rise buildings in the city.

Hachisu Home

Kamikawa may be small, but Nancy and I never ran out of things to do.  We spent our two days together visiting antique shops, where nooks and crannies where filled from floor to ceiling with treasures, sampling the local cuisine, admiring the beautiful fields nestled among the hills and mountains, and cooking lunch for the children at Nancy’s school.

Fields in Kamikawa

We had an amazing dinner at Soba Ra, a restaurant that any city dweller would die to eat at because the food is so delicious.

Soba Ra MenuKatsuo TatakiGrilled Fish

We talked about Japan, food, and Nancy’s book that will be published next year.  The earthquake and tsunami came up as well, inevitable topics, having occurred less than 4 months before.  Nancy talked about what it was like, and the thoughts that went through her head.  We wondered about what lies ahead for Japan, especially for the food system. (Read Nancy’s post about Radiation in Japan for her insights.)

Rice growing

Despite some of the heavy conversation, my time spent with Nancy was therapeutic.  It’s hard to spend time in a place like Kamikawa and not feel some of your stress melt away.  I’ve put together a short video to share a bit of Kamikawa with you—I think everyone needs a trip to Kamikawa.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }



Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga August 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Thank you for sharing the details of your trip, Rachel! One day I’d love to visit Japan!

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Barbara @ Barbara Bakes August 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Thanks for sharing your trip and your love of the Japanese culture with us.

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Melissa | Dash of East August 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Lovely post Rachel! This post reminds me of my dad’s hometown in Taiwan. It’s out in the country, far away from the lights of Taipei.

There are rice fields, chickens, geese, ducks right outside your door – it’s so peaceful there, especially in the mornings. I loved reading this post and watching the video, it brought back so many wonderful memories.

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Yuri August 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Is that oroshi with the grilled fish? I want to fly to Tokyo this year… miss Japan so much.

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Fuji Nana August 30, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I would LOVE to stay in Kamikawa. What a beautiful place, and what great insights into the situation in Japan from Nancy.

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Amy August 30, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Thank you for sharing this video! It looks beautiful. : )

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Megan August 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Thank you for the lovely video.
It sounds like you had the perfect chance to unwind in Kamikawa. These are the parts of Japan I love the most!

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Nancy Singleton Hachisu August 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Rachel—loved reading this post because it brought me back to those couple days this summer (a welcome respite in the mad dash to finish my manuscript). Your video brought tears to my eyes—what you wrote was very insightful. Thank you so much for that. i’m hoping that I’ll finish the last few recipes today. Have to go meet some people to talk about Good Food Japan (a new project)—and yes I will be heading into that mad fray of humanity that teams around Tokyo Station. Think I’ll take a cab to my meeting. I’m feeling a bit fatigued just thinking about it. When are you coming again?—Nancy

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) September 6, 2011 at 5:56 pm

@Nancy Singleton Hachisu, Thank YOU for having me! I only wish that I’d been able to stay for longer!! Now I can’t wait to come back. :)

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LiztheChef August 30, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Beautiful post – I have so wanted to visit Japan for so many years…

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) September 6, 2011 at 5:55 pm

@LiztheChef, I so hope that you get the chance to go sometime soon my friend!

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Amy Tong August 30, 2011 at 8:44 pm

What a beautiful field and farm. I know why your stress would just melt away in such a beautiful and peaceful place. But somehow, I miss Tokyo too. :) Guess that’s just because I haven’t been there for over 10 years. I miss the food and shopping there.

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) September 6, 2011 at 5:54 pm

@Amy Tong, I miss Tokyo too! My oldest daughter was born in Tokyo when we lived there last. So not only do I miss it, because we’ve lived there, but because a piece of my heart will always be there! You need to get back!

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Aya August 30, 2011 at 9:22 pm

I really enjoyed this post. You are so lucky to experience to stay in the house like your friend’s! Houses like that is getting less and less these days (you are also right about Japan being too focused on modernization) and it is kind of sad. Your friend’s house reminds me so much of my grandparents house in Kyushu, and your post just took me there…the food looks amazing, too. I miss nothing more than grilled fish with daikon oroshi!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) September 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm

@Aya, Oh Aya, I LOVE grilled fish with daikon oroshi. Actually, daikon oroshi in general is one of my all-time favorites!!

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Katrina August 30, 2011 at 11:01 pm

You are so lucky to have a friend in such an exotic, beautiful place. I would love to make it to Japan one day. It sounds lovely.

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Diana@Spain-In-Iowa August 31, 2011 at 3:11 am

What a lovely post Rachel. So cool to see another culture and the calm of Kamikawa. Beautiful.

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Fuji Papa August 31, 2011 at 4:33 am

I loved the video and the contrast between the bustling Tokyo and the ducks, chickens and rice fields. That is what really struck me when we visited Japan, was the fact that the population is crammed into mega-cities, but they’ve been able to contain urban sprawl and maintain wide swaths of open space and farmland. I think that was the aspect of Japan that surprised me the most.

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Krista@BudgetGourmetMom August 31, 2011 at 1:57 pm

What a beautiful country. I’m so glad you got to go back and visit so I could live vicariously through you. Your love of Japan always rubs off on me…xoxo

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Gilbert Ho August 31, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Thanks for sharing Rachael- the scenery and food looks beautiful. Another one for the travel destinations list!

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Kelly G September 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Thank you for sharing. I grew up in Japan, up in Misawa. I would LOVE to go back and visit one day. It is a truly amazing place!

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Maureen September 2, 2011 at 4:40 am

What a fantastic opportunity you had! I’m envious!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) September 6, 2011 at 5:50 pm

@Maureen, It was beyond wonderful! Though doing/seeing anything in Japan is pretty wonderful!

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Mikey September 2, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Thanks for your wonderful video, it also was a peek into the past for me. I also have friends and relatives in Saitama, Chiba, and Tokyo, but have not been back for twenty years – your video helped refresh my fond memories and wonderful smells of the Japanese countryside.

My experiences with the food in Japan was truly amazing as well – Alice Waters has nothing on the Japanese when it comes to getting the best from your local areas – whether it is from the nearby farmer or the fisherman…

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) September 6, 2011 at 5:49 pm

@Mikey, Thank you for your comment Mikey! And I can’t agree more with your sentiments about the food!

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HeatherChristo September 7, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Rachel- thank you for the post and the video. While I have spent extensive time (end even lived!) in other parts of Asia, I have never been to Japan. It is such a beautiful culture and of course, that unbelievable food!

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Nancy@acommunaltable September 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm

So glad that you posted this!! Since my traveling over the next few years is going to be limited (darn that tuition!!) I can at least travel vicariously with my friends!!

I loved reading about your insights into Japan and the video – made me feel that I was there too!!

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marla September 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Funny how today we were talking about the summer….I have been wondering where your Japan re-cap was & here it is! Looks like a magical & touching trip. I KNOW you were in your happy place. Thanks for sharing your trip to Japan with us. Lovely video. Looks like a very special time with your pal Nancy :)
xxoo

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Tamara September 12, 2011 at 4:48 am

Hi Rachel, I found your blog while searching for Japanese Gyoza recipes (thanks by the way, planning on making them asap!). We’ve just come back from 11 days in Japan (Tokyo, Nikko and Hakone) I honestly fell in love with the country and have always loved the food, but appreciate it a lot more now :) I am already thinking about the areas I next want to visit in Japan. Especially outside of the city centre, we stayed in a traditional ryoken (spelling?) while we were in Hakone…it was so peaceful there, away from the busy main area and had their own hot springs. It’s so sad to hear of the affect the earthquake has had on the tourism, since everywhere we went was really not that affected. I hope it picks up soon!

Anyway, thanks again for the inspiration and apologies for the long comment! Tamara :)

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