Archive for the ‘Masa’s diary’ Category

What a Universal design

April 2, 2015

Hi there. I am Masa. Today’s story is also about monkeys. That is Chimpanzee.

You may know well , if you have once been to Japan, there are so many vending machines. Especially in the center of Tokyo we feel we can find them every 50 steps.

Then, in Japan not only people but also Chimpanzee know how to use vending machine. You can see Chimpanzee using them in order to get canned drink at Tama zoo in Hino city. And they also know how to recycle the can. Please take look at these pictures.

mash the can
 First a Chimpanzee smash a can that he(or she) drank up.

putting in box

Next he drop it in the recycle box and get a coin.

putting a coin

Then he put a coin in the vending machine and got to get canned drink he want to drink.

got a drink can

Tama zoo is located west of Shinjuku. It takes about 1 hour from Shinjuku. You can take Keio-line from Shinjuku station and get off at Tamadobutsu-koen. Tama zoo is wide and a bit mountainous. I sometimes go there with my children and spend whole a day. There are some food shop but we usually enjoy picnic lunch.

Tama zoo is also famous by Lion bus.



There is a happy hell in Japan !

March 12, 2015


Hi there. I am Masa.

I visited snow monkey park in new year holiday with my family.

We saw many monkeys soaking in the natural hot spring.That was very interesting.

The official name of Snow monkey park is Jigokudani- Yaen-koen (地獄谷野猿公園) which literary means Hell valley wild monkey park.

In Japan hot spring where we can see the steam of geothermal heat comes out from the ground is often called as Jigoku (hell). It is a hell but like the Paradise!

Jigokudani Yaen Koen is the only place we can see wild monkeys soaking in the bath.

The way monkeys enjoying the bath is completely same as human being taking bath.


There are many monkeys in the park.They all are wild monkeys living in mountains. Actually they are coming down to the park every morning to enjoy hot spring and food and they go back home every evening.

Though they are originally just called Saru (monkey) in Japan, overseas tourists who saw monkey soaking in the hot spring surrounded by much snow found interesting and started to call them Snow monkey and now they become world famous. Lots of tourists from all over the world come to see them.


The park is located in Nagano prefecture north-west of Tokyo, where is mountainous area with deep snow in winter and also good Onsens. Shiga Kogen ski resort is reachable in 30 min. by car.

Did  you know in Japan even capybaras (or capibaras) are also big fans of Onsen? They are originally from southern America. Maybe the winter in Japan is too cold so that they come to fall in love with Onsen ! You can see them at Izu Cactus park, Saitama children’s zoo and some other zoos in Japan.


Cold but beautiful winter morning in Tokyo

January 16, 2014

お濠に氷 バイクと お濠に氷

Hi there I am Masa.

We had the coldest morning in Tokyo today.

Temperature dropped to -2c.

Please take a look at above photos. Some part of the moat, surrounding the Imperial Palace, were frozen. Can you realize that on the photos?

I shot these photos on the way to our office. I bike to work every morning. It takes about 40 minutes for 11 km from my house to the office.

I also sometimes enjoy kayaking in the downtown Tokyo, in the canals, small rivers or in Tokyo bay.


There are 13 million people living in Tokyo. But it is seldom to see other kayaks on the water, especially in winter.

I like the feeling to row the kayak in the mid of Tokyo.


January to February is the coldest moment In Tokyo.

But we are operating the bike tours.

I will be the guide for the tour on 26th. so hope to see you soon on our bike tour!!

The traditional event – Shichi – Go- San

November 14, 2013

priest and her

Hi there. I am Masa again!

Our family celebrated  Shichi-Go-San ceremony for my seven years old girl last Sunday.

Shichi -Go-San literally means Seven-Five-Three in Japanese and we Japanese have a traditional event to celebrate their children’s healthy growing up at their three, five and seven years age. (Usually three years old and seven years old for girl and five years old for boy.)

I have two daughters aged seven and four. So our family had an elder daughter’s Shichi-Go-San festival at local Shinto shrine near our house.

We appreciate Shinto’s God for her safely growing-up and also pray her healthy growing up in the future.

The ritual is taken place as follows.

Shinto priest

First of all, a Shinto priest says some words of appreciation to God for my daughters growing up and asks to watch her in the future. Then he performs a purification ceremony for my daughter. And finally she sips some sacred sake (non-alcohol), then this traditional ceremony has finished.

local Shinto shrine

My daughter dressed up with kimono, a Japanese traditional clothing. She was a bit nervous during ceremony. But when Shinto priest gave her a book and candies, she returned to herself. (The first picture above)

November is a season of Shichi-Go-San festival, so if you visit shrines in Japan, you will see many kids in Kimono walking hand in hand with their parents. They are all so pretty. When you find them at shrine, don’t hesitate to call to them “Omedeto gozaimasu” which means congratulations. And usually they are happy to pose for your camera.

In old days children who are younger than seven years old are supposed to be belonged to God. Because children died easily by disease in infant medical situations. That kind of thought  may comfort parents who lost their children. “Our child went back to God’s home, not just died…”

So children older than seven are regarded to be a member of normal human beings’ world. Now I big welcome my daughter coming to our world!

Sometimes bitter yet life is enjoyable. Our life is worth to live. Let’s enjoy living together for a while, my little girl!

Weekend trip to Matsumoto and Kamikochi

November 13, 2013


Hi there. I am Masa.

Two weeks ago I went out from Tokyo and enjoyed seeing colored autumn mountain.

Friday night I stayed in Matsumoto city which is located  220 km from Tokyo, at the foot of mountain range, “Japan Alps”. Japan Alps was named by a British mining engineer in the 19th century. And Matsumoto is the gateway city of north Japan Alps.

Matsumoto is also well known by its beautiful Matsumoto-jo castle.

There are many castles in Japan, which were built in the 16th century and the 17th century, but most of them were burned down by the ancient battles or the air assault at the World War second.

But Matsumoto-jo castle was survived from them and now designated as a  national treasure right along with the other three castles like Himeji-jo castle that is also registered in UNESCO world heritage, Hikone-jo castle and Inuyama-jo castle.

Look at this beautiful picture I took! It is lit up and reflected the moat water. Maybe my camera skill is good ;-), but it is just so — photogenic!!

Next day we visited Kamikochi for hiking, where is in the National Park around 1500m above sea level.


To conserve the environment, accessing to Kamikochi by our own cars is prohibited. So I parked my car and took a public bus. I got off a public bus at Taisho-ike pond where is the entrance of Kamikochi. I did hiking about one hour to head to Kappa-bashi bridge.

Kappa is a water spirit that is a creature of fantasy (See wikipedia page for more information about Kappa). The bridge is named after this creature and it is so much loved by people as a symbol of Kamikochi. The scenery of mountain range with Kappa-bashi bridge is so popular.

The season to visit Kamikochi is almost over and they will hold the closing ceremony of this season on 15th of November. There are about 15 hotels in Kamikochi. Most of them will close the business until they will open again next April. The opening event will be held on 27th of April, 2014.

Spring to autumn, lots of tourists and climbers visit Kamikochi. But in winter time, only climber who has proper gears can access to Kamikochi because of its coldness and heavy snow.

<<How to get there>>

Shinjuku to Matsumoto

2.5 hours by JR or highway bus

Matsumoto to Kamikochi

1.50 hours by bus or train


There are many hotels in Matsumoto.

I stayed in Matsumoto Marunouchi hotel close to Matsumoto-jo castle.

That’s all for today. I’ll write again when I travel next time.


Your kids would love it ! – Tokyo Toy Museum

October 7, 2013

tokyo toy museum

Hi there. I am Masa.

I visited Tokyo Omocha museum (Tokyo Toy Museum) with my two daughters aged 4 and 6.

They have been there this summer, I was a first timer to there.

Here is the link to this museum

The museum building is a former public elementary school which once closed down due to the lack of students and then remodeled to museum a few years ago.

There are NO computer games, no Nintendo DS,  Wii or iPad etc.

Many toys are very traditional, created and made of wood.

That is a museum where we can not only watch toys  but we can also play with toys.  Needless to say my kids, actually I myself really enjoyed Tokyo Toy Museum.    I played some board games with my daughters, so much fun!

At the reception we booked workshop that is for making simple toy with their conductor.

My daughters made small paper crafts and drawings. They took back them home. It took about 20 minutes.

There are some staffs who help us how to play with toy.

When we could not realize how to use, it is better to ask their staffs. They are volunteer staffs and very helpful.

Finally we spent more than four hours there.

If you have a spare time and you are with your children, I recommend you to visit there!

There are some staffs speak English. Let them know by telephone that you are coming in advance, they can arrange staffs.

The museum is 5 minutes’ walk from Yotsuyasanchome station on Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line. Admission is 700 yen for an adult, 500 yen for a child.

They also have a package ticket 1,000 yen for one adult plus one child.

They close on Thursday. (You should join our Route B tour in stead!)

There are also Shobo Hakubutsukan (Fire museum) next to Yotsuyasanchome Station. Fire department is operating it.

But, sorry I have never been there.

Rowing towards to Mt. Fuji

September 26, 2013

本栖湖 富士に漕ぐ

I am Masa.


I visited Motosuko-lake last weekend for camping and kayaking.

I stayed there 3 nights with my family.

Camping was a first time for them and first time in 10 years for me.


We rented kayak and rowed toward Mt Fuji.

Motosuko is one of Fuji five lakes that are located on foot of Mt Fuji. It is 900m above sea level.  Surroundings is 12 km.

As jet ski and motorboat are prohibited, then the lake is very clear and quiet, we could enjoy kayaking in a relaxing mood.


To Motosuko from Shinjuku is about 120 km and usually it takes about 2 hours by car. But last weekend was long weekend, so it took about 5 hours to arrive there because of the heavy traffic jam.



**About camping**


There are some camp sites around Motosuko-lake.

Motosuko camp-jo(campsite) is where we stayed.

There are 250 tent sites and some bungalows.

Charges are 3000 yen for one tent site.

They open from April to November.


**About kayaking**


We rented a 2-seater-kayak at Motosuko ikoinomori capmg-jo where 5 km from Motosuko camp-jo.

Charges are 2500 yen for a day.


Anyway, I had a great weekend, I like kayaking in Tokyo’s canal with our guests, but kayaking in the nature is always very nice thing especially with my family!

If you want to join our kayak tour in Tokyo, here is the website. 

“Cosplay” event at the amusement park in Tokyo

June 6, 2011

Have you ever heard about ‘Cosplay’? ‘Cosplay’ comes from the words ‘Costume Playing,’ where young men and women dress themselves up as their favorite character in the TV animations or comics. Originally it’s one of Japanese subcultures but now has become so popular that “World Cosplay Summit (WCS)” is held every year and even is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan Tourism  Agency.

Last Sunday I went to Toshimaen amusement park near Ikebukuro with two of my daughters.

I didn’t expect but I saw a couple of cosplayers at near the gate. Originally I thought that the staffs were cosplaying to entertain their guests.

I was wrong. When we stepped in Toshimaen, many cosplayers were there. They were enjoying by themselves acting as their favorite characters. They took photos each other and they also posed in front of  the camera with guests, usually for kids.

Of course I took a picture with the most Kawaii (pretty) girl.

If you like cosplay, check at  Toshimaen! Harajuku is more famous for ‘Cosplay’ among the tourists, but Toshimaen is maybe a secret place to see them. (Or cosplay like them?!)

Toshimaen (としまえん)   (Japanese only)


Masa @Toshimaen



One month has passed…

April 11, 2011

Sakura has come, also guests have come. We had the first guests this April. We enjoyed cycling and seeing cherry blossom.

Now many people are going out of from their houses. People came back to the city and the park.

Sakura looks like cheering us. And every time we are helped and encouraged by guests. Also they help to improve my English.




Let’s lift our faces a little bit!

April 6, 2011

Thank you, cherry blossoms! You make people’s face up and make them smile.