Kanto Maigo – Day 5

I think 4 days may be my limit travelling alone. The excitement wears off and places where the plan goes awry piles up. Tedium and lethargy always set in around this time.

 

我想4天大概是我獨自旅遊的極限。起初的興奮磨耗殆盡,計畫出錯的地方越來越多。總是在這時開始心灰沮喪。

 

The breakfast at Villa Fountaine had changed a little, the sausage became a meat patty and the fried rice became curry flavoured fried rice. Taste about the same.

 

Villa Fountaine的早餐沒什麼變化,只有熱狗變成漢堡肉排,炒飯變成咖哩炒飯。味道差不多。

Villa Fountaine breakfast

After breakfast and checkout since it was still early, I decided to head to the area in front of Tokyo station for a walk.

 

早餐完退房後還早,我決定去東京車站前走走。

 

Some of the ginkyo trees in the open had already yellowed or fallen while ones in the Marunouchi were still mostly green. The autumn leaves was very uneven this year, likely a result of the swings in weather.

 

有些在空曠處的銀杏樹已經黃了,甚至落葉了,而在丸之內的大多還是綠葉。今年紅葉很不均衡,可能是氣候忽冷忽熱變化太大。

Marunouchi

Tokyo station

In retrospect I should have gone to Meiji Jingu Outer Garden since I knew it would rain tomorrow morning. I could have at least done a full walk to Yurakucho, it would have delayed going to the exhibition but there was time. The brain had mostly shutdown though and I just went numbly through the schedule for most of the day.

 

我這時已知道隔天會下雨,現在看當初應該去明治神宮外苑的。或著是走到有樂町,會晚一點去展覽但反正今天時間很多。腦袋已經停機了,基本上整天只是麻木的跟著行程走。

 

Nogizaka station connected directly with the art museum. Similar to Roppongi station the line was built very deep beneath the ground and it took at least 5 flight of escalators to get to the entrance.

 

乃木板站跟美術館直接連接。跟六本木站一樣在地下深處,需要搭五段手扶梯才能到入口。

 

Excitement floods back into me once I was handed the beautifully printed ticket.

 

拿到漂亮的入場卷,心情再度興奮起來。

Ticket

The art museum’s outward facing side was a wavey lattice of glass wall. The inside was an empty space occupied by two upside down cones where upon sat a cafe and a restaurant.

 

美術館的外觀是一片海浪般的玻璃格子。裡頭簍空的空間中有兩個倒過來的圓錐,上頭分別是一個咖啡店和一個餐廳。

Toward the art museum

Interior

This is where Taki and Okudera had their date.

 

這裡就是瀧和奥寺前輩約會的地方。

 

A line was beginning to form outside the exhibit entrance. I rushed to go in before I could get a better look of the art gallery.

 

展覽入口開始排隊了。我連忙上前,暫且先把美術館逛一圈的事放一邊。

 

Sadly there is no taking photo inside exhibit. In addition to the ticket I also got the audio guide (always get audio guides). The Japanese audio guide is voiced by none other than Kamiki Ryunosuke, Taki’s voice actor and long time big fan of Shinkai, and every section had a track where Kamiki would describe his own experience and thoughts toward the particular piece of work. Since this is a huge selling point, the English guide would leave in Kamiki’s Japanese voice for a sentence or two before fading out and the English voice takes over. The English voice also did its best to mimic Kamiki’s soothing, cute, calm, dreamy mannerism.

 

裡頭不能拍照真是太可惜了。除了門票外我還租了語音導覽(去看展覽一定要租語音)。日文導覽是由神木龍之介,瀧的配音員來講解。神木長久以來就是新海的粉絲,展覽的每個區都有一段神木分享他自己對這作品的心得。由於這算是展覽的一大賣點,英文導覽的開頭都會留下神木的原日文,再切入英文的導覽。同時英文導覽的配音也盡量模仿神木那溫和可愛,有點夢幻的語氣。

 

At first the line to around the exhibit moved very slowly as everyone took their time to go through the sketches, storyboards or magazine articles. A few would meticulously note down things in their notebook and one person I noticed would even sketch down the storyboards.

 

一開始隊伍移動的很慢,每個人都很仔細的研究每一張草稿,分鏡構圖和雜誌文章。有的人詳細的草圖上的細節記錄在小本子裡,有個人甚至還把分鏡畫下來。

 

While waiting for the lines to move I also wrote down the more notable features of the exhibit on the phone.

 

再等隊伍移動時我也順便把展覽中有趣的點寫下來。

 

While each of Shinkai’s film would have a dedicated section, they would all focus on a slightly different theme, be it experience, technical detail or thematic message. In addition to the storyboards there would also be a short clip or two showing the end result in the film.

 

新海的每一部作品都有一個專屬區域,每個區域又會專門講解一個主題,可能是製作經驗,使用的技術或是作品傳達的訊息。除了分鏡外還有短篇影片展示分鏡經製作後在電影中的片段。

 

OP

 

Perhaps as a call out to Kimi no Nawa, the very first thing upon entering the exhibit is an OP. It is essentially using various cuts from Shinkai’s films to the soundtrack Dream Lantern from Kimi no Nawa. It’s great and brings a smile to the face.

 

(There will also be an ED)

 

或許是對『你的名字』點頭,進入展覽第一個看到的是一個開場動畫。利用新海的各個作品剪接成一個影片,配上你的名子中的夢燈籠曲子。蠻有趣的。

 

(等下也會有結尾動畫)

 

Hoshi no Koe (Voices of a Distant Star) 星之聲

 

The first section is Hoshi no Koe, Shinkai’s debut film. The section goes into the story that led up to it, how Shinkai created She and Her Cat during his spare time.

 

第一區是星之聲,新海的出道作。這區敘述了新海從原點開始的故事,如何在閒時製作了『她與她的貓』。

 

Hoshi no Koe was a remarkable story, it stunned the world with its beauty, its mix of CG and computer graphics editing, and everything except the music done by his friend Tenmon was done by a single person. It redefined what was considered possible in the industry. Right from the very beginning Shinkai stood out as one of the few who would be seen to have the potential of someday being compared to the great Miyazaki.

 

星之聲的成功本身是個傳奇故事。作品的美感,混和CG和電導繪圖的製作手法,除了音樂由朋友天門負責外其他都是單獨個人製作,震驚業界。這部作品重新定義了動畫製作的可能性。從開始新海就被視為可能某天與宮崎駿其名的少數幾名導演之一。

 

On display was a recreated work desk when Shinkai worked on the piece by himself, a crowded small desk upon which sat an old PowerMac and a huge drawing tablet.

 

展示包含了重現新海當初製作星之聲時的工作桌,一個擁擠的小桌上擺了一個古董PowerMac和龐大的繪圖板。

 

Articles from the time about the film were shown, to help understand how it was received at the time. When Hoshi no Koe was shown in theatre there were people lining up everyday. Even when the last showing had ended there were still people waiting outside, so the theatre decided to put on another showing. Then another, then another, well into the night.

 

電影推出時的雜誌介紹也在這展出,幫助理解當時對這作品的評價。當星之聲上映時每天都大排長龍。當最後一場放映完後外面依然有人在等著,劇場於是決定在上映一場。然後再一場,再一場,直到深夜。

 

Kumo no Mukou (Place Promised in Our Early Days) 雲之彼端

 

Hung from the ceiling was a small scale model of the plane that the protagonist built in the film.

 

從天花板用鋼絲吊著電影內主角組裝的飛機的模型。

 

This section described Shinkai’s first experience working with a production crew and the struggles he faced. This was a trial by fire for Shinkai. Although the film barely came out and was flawed in may aspects, it laid the foundation for Shinkai’s subsequent work and gave him a core of staff to rely upon and together improve throughout the director’s career. Most notably background art director Danji Takumi who would go on to work on every Shinkai film.

 

這區介紹了新海第一次跟團隊合作的經驗。這是新海的一場實戰磨練。雖然電影差點做不成,許多地方也都有缺陷,這作品的確為新海打下了未來製作的底基,給了他一批可信賴的核心團隊,在他的導演生涯中一同成長。特別一提的背景作畫監督丹治匠,在這之後新海的每一個作品都有參與。

 

It explained Shinkai’s love with clouds, where he fell in love with from looking at the skies in his school years during commute. The mountains surrounding his hometown created a great different variety of clouds and he would sketch them down in his drawing book.

 

這區也解釋了新海對雲的熱衷。他家鄉四面高山環繞,地形產生的雲多采多姿。在學生時代通勤時他喜歡看窗外的雲,把雲的模樣描畫入圖本內。

 

5 cm per second 秒速五釐米

 

The film which most Shinkai fans would come to know the director, as Kamiki admits to be one of them in the narration. He talked of how he fell in love with the pure simple portrayal of love, longing and distances.

 

大部分粉絲們接觸導演的第一部作品,如神木在導覽中坦言包括他也是。神木敘說他非常喜歡電影中對愛情,思念和距離單純的描述。

 

The film saw incredible success and despite a limited showing was so popular it had an unusually long run in the theatres.

 

電影非常的成功,雖然上映的劇場有限但因太受歡迎,在劇場上映了異常之久。

 

The focus apart from the film’s history, was on how the beautiful backgrounds were created. For people unfamiliar with photoshop or digital painting the section would have been greatly informative.

 

除了對電影歷史的講解,這區也介紹這皆美麗的背景是如何繪製的。對photoshop或數位繪畫不熟的人應該是會有突破性的理解吧。

 

The example used to illustrate the background composition was the scene with the parked cars and cherry blossom leaves. The whole background consisted of around 30 layers, the sign card boasted. I’m surprised the whole background only consisted of 30 layers.

 

用來解釋背景架構的例子是電影中櫻花樹下停著汽車的畫面。整個背景是由大約30層畫結合而成的,牌子上這麼誇道。我對這樣細膩的背景竟只用30層更感到意外。

 

A common question regarding whether the backgrounds are edited photos or based on photos. This is answered here by showing a series of original real life photo taken during location scouting and their final background art. A fews things can be gathered: the backgrounds are not merely painted over photos, objects in the scenes are shifted and adjusted and the perspective at times changes; Shinkai knows exactly what shot, angle and framing he wants when he goes location scouting, the reference photos aren’t just wide shots to take in the scenery and objects, they are already composed and framed to how the end artwork should look.

 

常會有人問這些背景是直接用照片更改的還是只是用照片作為參考。這裡特地用一系列當初參考地點的照片和最終畫出的背景做比較。可知道幾件事。背景不是直接畫在相片上,相片中的東西有移動,改變,或是轉換角度。另外是新海去找地點拍照時就知道他想要的樣子,參考用照片不只是單單用廣角照入景色和事物,而是已經過構圖,照出他心目中完成的背景畫的樣子。

 

Here written on the walls, explained Shinkai’s philosophy behind his films.

 

一面牆上寫著新海製作動畫的想法。

 

When things get tough, the closest source of comfort is scenery. when feeling no one understands, step back and look at big picture, all people connected to larger world.

 

Even if sad, in the beautiful scenery, you are part of something beautiful.

 

當痛苦時,最接近的安慰就是風景。當感到沒有人理解時,退後一步看遠一點,所有人都聯繫著廣闊的世界。

 

就算傷心難過,在這美麗的風景中,你就是這美麗的一部分。

 

On the wall the cherry blossoms fell. On the TV flashed through scenes from the movie to the theme song of One More Chance, One More Time. Sadness, regret, memories. I was not the only one in the room with wetness in the eyes.

 

牆上一瓣瓣櫻花落下。電視上隨著主題歌『再一次機會,再一次來過』閃著電影片段。苦澀,悔恨,回憶。房間裡不只有我紅了眼框。

 

Children Chasing Lost Voices 追逐繁星的孩子

 

The exhibit put significant emphasis on how this film came about. Unsaid that this film was not received well by the fans.

 

展覽特別花心思敘述這一部作品的由來。隱喻沒說的是這部片在粉絲中評價並不好。

 

After 5cm per second Shinkai went on a world tour to the middle east and London, where he thought about where to take his next film. The answer was Children Chasing Lost Voices where he wanted to return to the roots of Japanese animation and adopted more traditional methods, including designs, palette, and the use of concept visuals which were drawings of a scene, in much more detailed than the usual storyboards, to better convey the fantasy world as envisioned to the team.

 

秒速五釐米之後新海啟程去中東和倫敦,一段國際巡迴交流,同時思考下一個作品該往哪方向發展。答案是追逐繁星的孩子。新海在這部中想回歸日本動漫的根基,選擇比以往傳統的手法,從設計,色彩,到概念插圖,一種比分鏡搞更細膩的圖,好把奇幻世界的概念傳達給團隊。

 

The technical aspect explained here was the colour setting and brushes.

 

技巧面則是解說色彩設定和畫筆。

 

Colour setting was new to me. The colours used for the characters have to change to suit the colour tone of the scene. Each item of the character and their skin tones had to be decided and codified to create a consistent look throughout the film.

 

色彩設定對我是新的東西。角色上的顏色需要依照這一幕的色調有所調整。角色所穿戴的每一樣物件,膚色,都需要決定配色,記錄統一,才能在整部作品裡呈現一致性。

 

The different photoshop custom brushes used to paint the backgrounds were shown here. Displayed most prominently was the brush used to draw clouds.

 

至於photoshop中繪畫背景的自訂畫筆在這展出。放在最顯眼位置的自然是用來畫雲的畫筆。

 

The initial town in the film was based on Shinkai’s hometown.

 

追逐繁星的孩子一開始小鎮是以新海老家為範本。

 

The item on display here was a replica of the crystal radio.

 

這裡展示的實體物件是動畫中的水晶收音機。

 

The section was pain to point out that the film was not received well and this prompted Shinkai to rethink how to balance the message and story he wanted to tell with what the fan wanted.

 

這區語重心長的強調這部作品並沒有得到好評,促使新海重新思考如何在他想表達的訊息,所說的故事中間,跟粉絲的期待做平衡。

 

Timeline, Other Works and Overseas 年表,其他作品,海外

 

Cleverly inserted after Lost Voices to break up the tedium of going through film after film, is a section on Shinkai’s life outside of the films.

 

在追逐繁星的孩子後插入一區新海在電影外的活動的介紹,很聰明的中斷作品接著作品乏味性的累積。

 

On the wall was a timeline of Shinkai’s life, how his career developed matched to developments in the world. The development of digital technology and how Shinkai was one of the pioneers that took up the medium. The development of the iphone and other major events such as the 311 earthquake. The last point is particularly important given Kimi no Nawa was partly inspired by Shinkai’s visit to Touhoku and his desire to create a more uplifting story for a nation in sorrow.

 

牆上的年表紀錄的新海的一生,他事業上的發展比對世界的變化。科技數位化和新海是利用數位化來創作的先鋒之一。iphone的發展和如311地震的巨變。311地震對你的名字有特別意義,當初創作的啟發是在新海在去過東北後看到地震後的景色,使他決心要給沉浸在哀傷中的國人一個激勵人心的故事。

 

Shinkai did speed skating in primary and archery in high school, both of which featured in his films.

 

新海在小學有參加競速溜冰,而到高中則是加入弓道部,兩者都有在他的電影中出現過。

 

Also showcased are some of his works outside of the major films, about his works at Falcom and the OP he created there for the games. The exhibit isn’t shy about mentioning his involvement in EF but they did avoid showing the OP…. which is a shame.

 

還有展出的是他在電影之外的製作,如在電玩公司Falcom製作的遊戲開頭影片。展覽並沒有忌諱他參與遊戲EF的事但並沒有展出那個遊戲的OP…有點可惜。

 

Shinkai’s other works also included short features such as the one for NHK about a cat trying to destroy the world, various advertisements (they didn’t show the one for Z-Kai….) and sponsored project like Dareka no Manazashi (Someone’s Gaze).

 

新海其他作品還有短篇動畫,像是幫NHK製作的,有關一隻貓想毀滅世界的故事,各種廣告(竟然沒有展出Z-Kai的那片)還有企業贊助的作品『來自誰的凝望』。

 

Shinkai from the very start had a comparatively wider overseas reach than his contemporaries. All the various DVD/BD cases and movie posters from around the world in their respective languages and slightly altered designs. It is a great showcase of an aspect that is really unique to Shinkai. (Shinkai is really loved overseas, I don’t think I’ve seen other directors being called nicknames the way Shinkai is by many Chinese/Taiwanese fans, Makoto ni-san, Big-Brother Makoto)

 

新海從一開始就比其他動畫導演在海外更有知名度。有各種世界各地各種語言的DVD/BD盒子,電影海報,有的設計也有更改。很棒的點出新海蠻獨特的一點。新海在海外真的是很受歡迎,在我所知沒有別的導演被粉絲稱為哥的。誠哥。

 

Shinkai’s literature background. Shinkai studied literature as his university major and is very well read. On display are many books which Shinkai drew his inspirations from. Not surprisingly amongst them is Haruki Murakami.

 

新海的文學背景。新海在大學是主修文學的,涉獵廣泛。一個展示櫃中滿是新海尋找靈感的書籍。毫無意外的當中有村上春樹。

 

There’s a small bit on the common themes that exhibit throughout Shinkai’s works. The railway, the use of lighting to reflect mood, the cats (btw there’s a funny quiz in the audio guide about the name of Shinkai’s cat). It seemed like an odd inclusion as its own section, turns out it’s actually really clever, to be seen later.

 

還有一小部分在解說新海作品中常出現的元素和主題。鐵道,光影來表現情境,貓(話說,語音導覽裡有個關於新海養的貓的名子的小測驗)。刻意加入這樣一個部分有點奇怪,但其實這是展方別有巧思的設計,晚點揭曉。

 

Garden of Words 言葉之庭

 

Did it start to rain?

 

Upon walking into the section, the audio guide springs to life on its and and begins playing the sound of rain.

 

開始下雨了嗎?

 

一走進這區,語音導覽自動開啟,撥放下雨的聲音。

 

Rain, is the theme of the film and the theme of the section. A veil of transparent threads are hung from above, with ever changing light projections it created an effect of falling raindrops.

 

雨。這是這部動畫的主題,也是這區的主題。一面透明細繩組成的帷幕高掛在頭頂,在變化的光線投射下正如下雨一般。

 

After the reception of Lost Voices, the guide explains, Shinkai sought to look for the way to create something for the fans without compromising his own visions. The Garden of Words was what he came up with.

 

在追逐繁星的孩子有了那樣的評價後,導覽解釋道,新海試圖尋找能符合粉絲期待,又不需妥協他自己創造的方法。於是有了言葉之庭。

 

To create the rain in Garden of Words, Shinkai went out when it rained to study the many effects of rain. From the misty effect to the way rain splashed off stones and trees.

 

為了描繪言葉之庭中的雨,新海常在下雨時出去研究雨的各種型態。從霧氣到雨點落在石頭和樹上的感覺。

 

In Garden of Words a new technique was also experimented where the outline of characters was coloured as reflection of the surroundings. This created an effect that allowed the characters to blend in with the exquisitely painted background while still pop out of the scene.

 

在言葉之庭中新海嘗試了一種新手法,在角色的線條上反映周遭的顏色。這使得角色能融入美如仙境的背景,同時又能在場景中突顯出角色。

 

On display is a replica of the shoes Takao made for Yukino. An actual pair of shoes were custom ordered and created as drawing reference but it was later dismantled for sound effect.

 

實物展示的是孝雄為雪野做的鞋子。製作時有實際訂製一雙鞋子作為作畫參考,但後來被拆解來做聲效了。

 

It’s interesting to see Shinkai’s storyboard evolve over time. They get much more expressive and the animation instructions ever more detailed, the later may have been a necessity as the team gets larger and harder to communicate face to face.

 

新海的分鏡隨著時光有很大的進步,很有意思。分鏡越來生動,動畫指導也越來越詳細。後者可能是團隊越來越大,不容易親自解釋而不得不的。

 

Kimi no Nawa (Your Name) 你的名字

 

Finally the breakout phenomenon. The section is less like a Shinkai show and more of an Ando and Tanaka show, bringing the design and animation skills of the two to the fore.

 

終於到了一鳴驚人的傑作。這區與其說是新海誠的展出不如說是安藤雅司和田中將賀的舞台,展現兩人設計和動畫的技巧。

 

Despite Tanaka being listed as the character designer in the original trailer, it’s emphasized here that Ando had just as much if not more input into it. While Tanaka provided the base of the designs, it was Ando who did the expression references and most importantly the posture references that contrasted how the characters should move depending on who was the person inside the body.

 

雖然田中將賀在一開始的預告中是列為角色設計,這裡強調的是安藤雅司在也有參與相當的部分,甚至可能更多。田中提供了一開始的基本設計,但安藤把兩個角色的演出演活了,比如說他畫的表情範本,還有更重要的姿勢範本,凸顯兩個人在當身體內不同的人的靈魂時不同的動作姿態。

 

On display was the kumihimo weaving tool.

 

實物展示的是編織組紐的工具。

 

For the technical aspect they tried to show how the flying transition from Tokyo to Itomori was created using layered drawings placed in a 3D space before a 3D model of Itomori lake. A physical model is on display to illustrate the effect, built using sheets of glass with painted Tokyo buildings and a plastic model (like the model 3D map one often sees in tourist centres).

 

技術面解說的是東京飛轉到系守町的過場,利用在3D空間設立一層層平面畫,最後擺在系守湖的3D模型,這樣穿過畫層時就像是飛過東京般。這裡實際用貼有東京大樓的玻璃和塑膠模型(類似遊客中心常可看到的3D地圖)來呈現電腦3D的效果。

 

The creation of the beautiful kagura dance is also explained, how Shinkai recorded actual performance of the dance and used it as a direct reference to animate the sequence.

 

動畫中的神樂舞也有介紹,新海錄下了真人表演作為作畫參考。

 

The exhibit overall goes out of its way to point out the works of the animators and artists. This isn’t just a Shinkai show. Example of works are also displayed to show off how the animators and artists bring the characters and backgrounds to life. The corrections to keyframes made by the animation directors, the comments they made to Shinkai’s original instructions. This goes for all of the films but is most evident in the Garden of Words and Kimi no Nawa sections.

 

展覽中特別強調其他動畫製作和畫家的貢獻。這不只是新海的個人展。利用各個作品中橋段來介紹負責這橋段的動畫製作或畫家,是怎麼賜予角色或背景生命。動畫導演對關鍵格的修改,對新海當初寫的指示的意見。每個區都有這元素,但言葉之庭和你的名字著墨最多。

 

In the Kimi no Nawa section there’s a very amusing series of drawings comparing what the original instruction sketch from Shinkai was, and how Ando the animation director interpreted them. Ando, who famously contradicted Miyazaki several times back when he worked on Spirited Away (and rumoured to be why he later departed the studio), was not shy about correcting Shinkai either. There is one sketch where Mitsuha was moved by emotion had the complete opposite expression of what Shinkai originally sketched. Ando’s take was much better.

 

你的名字區中也一很有趣的展示,分別是新海畫的初稿和指示,然後安藤作畫監督如何詮釋。安藤很有名的曾在製作神隱少女時與宮崎駿槓上(傳說因此退出吉卜力),對新海照樣毫不留情。其中有張三葉感動的畫面,其中三葉的表情跟新海原本畫的完全不一樣。安藤的手法好多了。

 

A side note. Contrary to popular belief Shinkai can draw characters quite well, unless the character sketches in the storyboards were redrawn by others.

 

另一提。一般可能認為新海不會畫人物,但其實他畫的還不錯,除非分鏡稿中的人物有給他人重畫過。

 

ED

 

The OP was an appetizing intro to whet one’s appetite for the exhibition. The ED concludes in fabulous fashion beyond imagination. If the OP is a 8/10 then the ED is a 30/10.

 

開頭動畫算是展覽的開胃菜。而ED則是超乎想像的華麗收場。若OP是80分那ED就是300分。

 

Two humongous screens side by side, at times showing a single scene, most of the time showing two scenes from different films containing the same framing, shot, action, message or dialog.

 

兩個巨大篇幅銀幕並排,有時顯示一整個影像,大多時候則是兩個不同作品的場景,但擁有相同的構圖,拍攝角度,動作,訊息或台詞。

 

I have never, ever, realized how much common elements there are in all his films. The common themes section from before floods to mind and suddenly each one of his individual films melded into mere acts in a single flowing performance.

 

我從來沒有意識到過新海的作品中有這麼多共同元素。之前對共通點的介紹湧入腦海,瞬間新海的每一部動畫溶成同一部流水般巨作。

 

The ED sums up the theme of Shinkai’s word up in a grand, spectacular, awe-inspiring, mind-blowing, realization-dawning MAD style mashup of every film composed in Shinkai’s trademark heart stringing rhythmic cuts with crescendos upon crescendos reaching beyond the beautiful clouds and starry skies.

 

ED將新海語詞間所表達的主題用一混和所有作品的動畫樂曲短片作總結。盛大,壯觀,令人振奮,驚奇萬分,啟發領悟的,用新海代標性帶動心弦的剪接收法,一強高過一強,衝破天際唯美的雲彩和星海。

 

Every cold foreboding cityscape, every brilliant ray of fleeting joy at twilight, every empty landscape that reminded of a better past and uncertain tomorrow, every filled streets that spoke of the loneliness inside, every flash of railway hinting the distance between.

 

每一幕冷木不祥的市貌,每一幕黃昏時如喜悅流逝的光輝,每一幕想起過去美好和未知明天的空蕩景色,每一幕擁擠的街道敘說內心的孤單,每一幕閃過的鐵道暗示彼此間的距離。

 

Every call, every monologue, every cry for the name of the longing within, every cry in search of happiness that belonged and would have no other, every defiance, every step and leap to action, every burst of tears of wonder; of lost; of hurt; of emotions that binds us in this beautiful world.

 

每一聲喊叫,每一句獨白,每一次喊出內心渴望的名字,每一次呼喊尋找無可取代的幸福歸屬,每一反抗,每一步踏出採取行動,每一滴因奇蹟湧出的淚水;因失去;因傷痛;因在這美麗世界將我們串連的情感。

 

この世界のことを好きだと思う

 

I like this world I think.

 

我喜歡這世界,我想。

 

The video ends the exhibit with the same words that Shinkai used to end his very first work, She and Her Cat.

 

影片最終用新海第一部作品最終的同一句話做總結。

 

Exit the exhibit and one reaches the only section where photo taking is allowed. The photo wall scene of the Itomori memorial Taki and Okudera visited is re-created, only this one with colour real-life photos and a cheerful tone. There is also an AR booth where one can get their photo taken and be inserted into a scene from Garden of Words.

 

走出展區後是整個展覽唯一可以拍照的區域。瀧和奥寺前輩所看的系守町回憶展在此重現,不過是現實場景的彩色拍照,充滿愉快氣氛。還有一個AR機器可拍照後將人放入言葉之庭的場景內。

Itomori

 

The goods shop sold many goods limited to the exhibit. T-shirt, postcards, notebooks, clearfiles. Some of the more interesting items included a scarf, the hourglass from the Sparkle MV (the hourglass does not appear in the movie), the kumihimo Mitsuha gave Taki (there are two versions, an plastic imitation and a real kumihimo that required a month wait time), magnets (which I bought) and a exhibition book containing everything that was in the exhibit and various interviews (which I probably should have bought, too tired).

 

商品店有許多展覽會限定商品。Tshirt,明信片,筆記本,收納夾。比較特殊的東西如圍巾,Sparkle音樂影片中出現沙漏(收漏在電影中則沒出現),三葉給瀧的組紐(有兩種,一個塑膠仿製物,另一個真的組紐預購需等一個月),磁鐵(有買),還有包還所有展出圖畫和訪談的展覽書冊(可能還是應該買的,太累了)。

The cafe

I checked my clock and was shocked to find it was 2pm. I had spent over 3 hours in the exhibition.

 

我看了看時間才驚訝已經2點了。我在展覽中花了3個多小時。


There was no time to go to Shinjuku to see the real life locations that appeared in the movie. I head back to Villa Fountaine to pick up my luggage and head to Super Hotel Shinbashi.

 

沒時間去新宿動畫場景朝聖了。我回Villa Fountaine取出行李去Super Hotel新橋。

 

The Mita line went from Jimbocho to Onarimon, a little bit south of the Shinbashi area.

 

三田線從神保町到御城門站,在新橋南邊一點。

 

Super Hotel Shinbashi is in an interesting location, right in the middle of a district and about equal distance of 400-500m from Shinbashi, Shiodome and Onarimon station.

 

Super Hotel新橋的位置很好玩,在一個町中間,到新橋,汐留,御城門差不多都是400-500m。

 

The process of checking in was well familiar to me. Super Hotel is unique with its use of keypad locks, it removed the need for check outs and reduced staff workloads and in turn, costs.

 

入住的手續已經很熟悉了。Super Hotel用的是獨特的密碼鎖,這樣就可省去退房和所需的人工成本。

Super Hotel Shinbashi

After check in it was time to go through the checklist and get everything that was needed for the next few days ahead.

 

入住後該檢查清單,把接下來所需的東西一一辦好。

 

The metro pass, the Hakone pass, the shinkansen ticket and scouting out station layouts and restaurant locations.

 

地鐵卷,箱根卷,新幹線票和確認車站動線與餐廳地點。

 

Most of these involved Shinjuku so I headed there first.

 

大部分在新宿所以先去那裡。

 

First item was the Hakone pass from Odakyu railway since the Odakyu Service Centre closes fairly early at 6pm. It is still possible to get it from the other general Odakyu tour service at the south exit (this one closes at 7pm) but they don’t have foreign staff there.

 

首先是箱根pass,因為小田急觀光服務中心6點就關了。雖然也可以在小田急南口的服務櫃檯買(7點關)但那裡沒有外語服務。

 

The Hakone pass was sold at the airport, Odakyu Sightseeing Service at Shinjuku or purchased from station ticket machines on the day. The transfers are going to be tight and getting them beforehand was paramount.

 

箱根pass可在機場,新宿小田急觀光服務中心或是當天從販票機買。轉車非常緊湊所以一定要預先買好。

 

There was a huge queue and process was slow. They were mostly Taiwanese (saw a lot of Taiwanese on this trip, not many mainland Chinese) and the service desk had several Taiwanese for that purpose. Progress was slow because many people do not necessarily realize that Hakone pass that included travel from Shinjuku to Odawara does not include express charges for one to take the romance cars, so there’s a lot of back and forth explaining, then once that’s explained people had to make a reservation for the romance cars (they are reserved seats only).

 

買票的隊伍很長,處理速度很慢。大多是台灣來的旅客(這次看到很多台灣人,大陸的到不多)而櫃檯特意派有幾個台灣人員。速度慢的主因是很多人弄不清楚新宿到小田原的票卷並沒有含做浪漫號特急的錢,需要慢慢解釋,在那之後還需要幫忙訂位(浪漫號是全車指定)。

Odakyu Tourist service

I only needed the Hakone pass that covered the basic area. I told the staff the date I wanted, emphasized that I wanted the basic version, filled in a form, received the tickets in no time and I was finally on my way.

 

我只需要基本版箱根pass。我跟櫃檯人員說了我要的日期,強調要的是基本版,填了個表格後馬上拿到票走了。

 

Next was the metro pass. The 72 hour subway ticket that allowed unlimited rides on both Tokyo Metro and Toei lines is limited to foreigners and cost 1500Y. I had estimated that we would use at least as much as the metro pass would cost and anything more was just extra savings. Won’t be much if any, but the convenience was nice. So I headed to the BIC CAMERA just on the west side of Shinjuku station.

 

接下來是地鐵pass。72小時地鐵pass可無限搭乘東京地鐵和都營地鐵,限定外國人1500Y。我估算過地鐵至少會用到那麼多,再多就是多省。不會省太多,但反正方便。我往新宿西側的BIC CAMERA走去。

 

The man at the info desk was only willing to sell me one of them, to my frustration. The rule was that if one needed more than one pass because one intended to stay in Tokyo for a longer period, one should come back after the first one expires. It was meant to prevent abuse by foreigners reselling it to locals, but I was only asking for 2.

 

在服務台的大叔只肯賣我一張,很煩人。規定是若要待久一點需要超過一張的話要等第一張到期後再去買。理當是避免外國人買了後轉賣給當地人用,但我也只不過是要2張。

 

They only checked that one had a passport with the tourist visa sticker and did not make any records. I figured that and realized I have to go to the other BIC CAMERA on the east side and get the other one there.

 

他們只確認護照內有觀光簽證,並沒有留紀錄。想到這點,我想到我可以到東側的BIC CAMERA買另一張。

 

Before that though I headed downstairs to confirm the location of the ochazuke (rice soaked with tea) restaurant I considered coming tomorrow. Once that’s been done and I started to head to the east side, I paused and thought I should have something to eat, as I had not even had lunch.

 

在那之前我先下樓確定了明天可能會來的茶泡飯餐廳地點。確認後正要去東側,我停了下,覺得應該找點什麼吃,到現在連午餐都還沒吃。

Ochazuke

There was a soba/udon shop a few shop up from the ochazuke place, similar to the one I had last night. Seemed like a good choice.

 

茶泡飯幾家店隔壁有家蕎麥烏龍麵店,跟昨晚吃的那家類似。看起來也不錯。

 

I ordered the daily special. The tempura vegetable patty was too oily, otherwise taste is okay.

 

我點了當日特餐。炸蔬菜餅有點太油了不然還算OK。

Udon place

Soba

Now I got something in the stomach I was feeling better. I got the other metro pass from the other BIC CAMERA (which is really really tiny for some reason, I’m used to them being quite big).

 

胃裡有點東西感覺好多了。我在另一家BIC CAMERA買了另一張地鐵pass(這家不知為何超小,已經習慣BIC CAMERA很大了)

 

Next up is confirming the layout of Shinagawa station. I took the Yamanote line there and paced several times up and down the concourse from the local JR line to the shinkansen ticket gates. About 4 minutes to the gate at a quick walk, then to go through and up the stairs… 5 minutes transfer at a minimum, 8 to be safe.

 

接下來是確認品川車站的動線。我搭山手線到品川然後前後從JR在來線走到新幹線閘門數次。快走的話到閘門需要4分鐘,加上通過閘門上樓…至少需要5分鐘,安全上8分鐘。

 

Then Tokyo station to get the shinkansen ticket and also confirm the location of the pensta store (which I forgot to check the other days, this morning when I thought about I was already outside the ticket barrier and pensta happens to be on the inside).

 

然後去東京車站買新幹線票然後確認Pensta企鵝店的位置(前幾天忘了,早上想到時已經在閘門外而Pensta不巧是在閘門內)。

Confirm Pensta

By the time I finally checked off the last item on the checklist it was past 7pm. I return to the hotel, did the laundry and went to bed. Tomorrow required a very early start.

 

全部處理完後已經是7點後。我回到旅館,把衣服洗好後早早就寢。明天去要很早起床。

Shinbashi

Kanto Maigo – Day 4

Morning. I look out the window over the empty intersection. Credits to Villa Fountaine for the comfortable and wide bed. Points off for strangely having the kettle in a cabinet all the way by the door instead of below/next to the desk like most considerate hotels would. The room is big enough, why put it so far away?

 

早晨。我從窗戶俯視空蕩的路口。不得不誇一下,Villa Fountaine的床大又舒服。至於把燒水壺擺在遠在門邊的櫃子裡而不是像其他旅館放在桌子下/旁,扣分。房間挺大的,何必放那麼遠。

View from Villa Fountaine

Complimentary breakfast at 7am. I’m not sure why they choose to call it complimentary, other hotels are happy enough to just call it what it is, free breakfast or breakfast included. Calling it complementary to make it sound like a gift? Something extra? Perhaps it’s an escape clause in the event they can’t provide it that day?

 

7點開始招待早餐。不確定為什麼要叫招待,其他旅館很直接,就免費早餐或是附早餐。稱呼招待感覺像禮物?多送的?或是預留漏洞,若是某天無法提供時有個退路?

 

One can tell what guests a hotel targeted by how early its breakfast is. 7am was for people who were in business but not in a hurry to get where they were going.

 

從提供早餐的時間可知道這旅館的主要顧客群。早上七點是為了需要辦事但並不需趕時間的人們。

 

Thankfully today I was also not in a hurry to get where I was going.

 

幸好今天我也不趕時間。

 

Kumobaike, a famous pond in Karuizawa was closed because of trail maintenance in the off-season (the word is going to show up alot). Without it there wasn’t much point in trying to arrive earlier than 10am when the shops begin to open. From Tokyo to Karuizawa takes about an hour so I only needed to head out after 8am. That’s plenty of time for transfer at Tokyo station.

 

輕井澤的雲場池因為淡季(這個詞會出現很多次)步道維修不能去了。不看雲場池那就沒有必要在10點店鋪開始營業前到了。從東京到輕井澤大約一小時,8點出發就夠了。在東京轉車時間很充裕。

 

The breakfast at Villa Fountaine was barebone. My theory is they are not initially setup to provide breakfast and had to begin offering to compete. Most items were simple to prepare. Yoghurt, cereal, salad, bread, soup. The hot dishes were scrambled eggs, wieners and fried rice. All dishes that could be done without a proper kitchen. There was no Japanese dish such as fish or pickles. Coffee and hot water for tea was served in pre-prewed coffee pots.

 

Villa Fountaine的早餐算簡陋。感覺上一開始是沒有提供早餐的,在競爭激烈才想辦法變出早餐來。大部分是容易準備的菜色。優格,麥片,沙拉,麵包,湯。唯一的熱食只有炒蛋,小熱狗和炒飯。都是不用廚房就可準備的。沒有日式早餐的漁或醬菜。咖啡和泡茶的熱水是裝在過濾咖啡壺中。

Villa Fountaine breakfast

Villa Fountaine breakfast

They were laid out on fold out tables put out in one side of the lobby, a temporary set up that was cleared out once breakfast was finished.

 

餐飲就擺在在大廳一側的摺疊桌上,早餐供應結束後便撤掉。

 

The food was okay. Above Smile Hotel, below Comfort. About 4 out of 10. The lack of variety really hurt it even if the quality was not bad.

 

口味還好。比Smile Hotel好,比Comfort Hotel差。大概給40分。主要缺點是沒有什麼菜色,雖然品質上不插。

 

The nearest metro station Jimbocho was poorly positioned to access Tokyo station. I head to Suidobashi, transfer by walking across the platform at Ochanomizu. There was still half an hour till I needed to get on the shinkansen. I wandered about Tokyo station, checking out the layout and the position of the breakfast place I planned to go to on Y’s first day.

最近的地鐵站神保町去東京車站不是很方便。我走去水道橋,做到御茶之水對面轉乘。離新幹線發車還有半小時,我在東京站內晃了晃,確認計畫Y抵達第一天要去的早餐店位置。

Tokyo Gransta

Breakfast being considered on Y’s first day

 

Gransta

 

Doutor!

 

Finally with a cup of Doutor coffee (it’s tradition) in hand it’s time to hop on the train.

 

最後拿著一杯必喝的Doutor咖啡準備上車。

 

The train was relatively full. I had to go to the second carriage from the end to find an empty row. Had thought it would be really empty, Karuizawa was not served by the super express bound for Kanazawa, people would only get on this train if they were headed for the smaller stations. Either the smaller stations saw a ridiculous number of people or the slower train would still get to Nagano and Kanazawa earlier than the next express.

 

車子算挺滿的。我一直走到倒數第二節車廂才找的一排空著的位子。還以為會空的,往金澤的超特快並不停輕井澤,應該只有要去中途小站的人才會上這班車。若不是這些小站的旅客超多不然就是這般慢車還是比下一班快車早到長野,金澤。

 

There was a huge elevation change from Takasaki to Karuizawa, it was part of the reason the E7 series was made to tackle the steep gradient. One could feel the angle of the train and the changing pressure as it sped through the mountain tunnel.

 

從高崎到輕井澤之間有很大的落差,E7就是專為這陡坡設計的。進入山區隧道後可感到車廂的傾斜和氣壓的轉變。

 

First thing noticed as the train pulled into the station, it had snowed overnight. Karuizawa was covered in a sheet of thin snow. The next thing, the station was really small and basic.

 

For being one of the premier holiday location for Tokyolites, I had expected something more fashionable and architecturally designed. The main waiting area wasn’t closed off from the platforms and was not heated. There was no convenience store, only a small bento stall. The small tourist centre, generously described for such a small room, where I got a map of the town also doubled as a souvenir store.

 

列車駛入車站後第一件注意到的,昨夜下過雪。輕井澤覆蓋在一層薄雪下。第二件事是,車站很小很簡陋。

 

身為東京人的度假首選之一,我原本還有點期待現代,有設計感的車站。主候車室和月台沒有區隔也沒有暖氣。沒有便利商店,只有一個小便當攤。我那地圖的小遊客中心,這小房間說中心算是說好聽的,同時也是土產店。

Karuizawa

 

Karuizawa Ekiben

 

Karuizawa station

Outside the station a young couple from Taiwan excitedly posed against the snow.

 

A big reason Japan is pushing heavily for foreign tourists is to balance out the huge differences between peak and off-peak seasons. Winter hits the tourism industry especially heavily in Japan and tourist numbers drop off a cliff. Foreign tourists are less affected by winter. People from warmer parts of asia are thrilled by the prospect of snow, some come to get a taste of skiing. Christmas and New Year is holiday season for westerners and Chinese New Year brings another tide of tourists.

 

車站外一對台灣情侶興奮的跟雪景合照。

 

日本近年來大力拓展外國觀光客的一大主因就是希望可以靠外國客來平衡觀光旺季和淡季的巨大落差。在日本冬季對觀光業是一大挑戰,觀光客數字一到冬天就如墜崖般下跌。國外觀光客則比較不受冬季影響。從亞洲溫暖地區來的旅客對下雪很興奮,有的是來第一次體驗滑雪。聖誕節和新年是西方的渡假旺季,農曆年時也會帶來另一波旅客。

Station courtyard covered in snow

The station is 1.5km from Old Karuizawa or Karuizawa Ginza where the main street is.

 

車站離舊輕井澤或輕井澤銀座的大街有1.5km。

 

Most bloggers recommends renting a bike which I question the wisdom of during winter. For one it isn’t very far and the terrain flat. Secondly one have to find parking. Thirdly biking over snow or iced over grounds is an accident in waiting.

 

During my walk several bikes wobbled by. One ridden by a middled aged woman from Taiwan almost skidded off the sidewalk coming to a stop at an intersection.

 

許多部落格推薦要租單車,但我覺得這在冬季不適合。一來主街真的沒多遠,地形也平坦。二是單車到了還要找地方停。三是在雪地和結冰的路面上騎車很容易出意外。

 

在我走到主街的途中過去好幾輛搖搖晃晃的單車。其中一位台灣婦人在路口要停住時差點滑出人行道。

Iced up street

Carved reindeer

The street was quote deserted. Outside of the few biking past there weren’t anyone else on the road. The buildings on either side were loosely positioned, most weren’t open due to the off-season. There was an art museum, a few fancy hotels and resort clubhouses.

 

街道上沒有什麼生氣。除了經過的幾輛腳踏車外沒有別人了。接到兩旁零星座落著房子,大多店家因淡季沒有開張。沿途經過一個美術館,幾家氣派的旅館和度假俱樂部。

A hotel

An antique store’s shop sign caught my attention. Kino, it was called, written in yarn like font. It was a little shop with personality, the items were tightly arranged without feeling cluttered. I was most impressed by an old fashioned typewriter like calculator/register, and letters made from rusted together nails and wires.

 

一家古董店吸引了我的注意。Kino,招牌上毛線般的字體寫著店名。一家很有個性的小店,店內商品擺的密集不顯擁擠。最讓我感興趣的是一個有點像打字機的老式算帳機,還有用銹在一起的鐵絲釘子組成的英文字母。

Antique Kino

Continuing on, I reached the intersection where the main shopping street begins. Much livelier.

 

繼續往前,來到主街開始的路口。熱鬧多了。

Xmas shop

The shops of Karuizawa was different from other tourist areas in that in had a good few fashion clothing stores, probably why the name Ginza. The clothing stores were advertising closing down sales if not closed already. Then there were antiques, wedding planners, crafts and the sweets shop.

 

輕井澤的店鋪與其他觀光地不同之處是這裡有許多服裝店,大概之所以又叫銀座吧。服裝店若不是在廣告閉店清倉就是已經歇業了。另外還有古董店,婚紗,手工藝和甜點店。

Croquet shop

Main street

Most numerous were the jam shops. Karuizawa is famous for its jams and spreads. This odd local specialty is deeply linked to the town’s history.

 

最多的是果醬店。輕井澤以果醬和塗醬出名。這看似奇怪的特產跟小鎮的歷史有很深的淵源。

 

Karuizawa had been a small village on the Nakasendo, then in 1886 a missionary Alexander Shaw happened by and noting its cool climate and beauty, decided to build a summer villa here. Other westerners soon followed suit and Karuizawa grew to be vacation resort for foreigners and contributed to many Karuizawa’s western architectures. Locals learned from the westerners and began making jams and spreads for the the westerners and other Japanese who had adopted a western lifestyle.

 

輕井澤曾是中山道上的一個小村落,1886年一位傳教士Alexander Shaw路過時注意到這裡涼爽的氣候和美麗的自然景觀,決定在這蓋個避暑小屋。很快的其他西方人也跟著效仿,輕井澤也發展成了外國人的度假勝地,也是為何鎮上有許多西式建築。當地居民從西方人那學習到了果醬和塗醬的做法,開始製作好提供給來度假的西方人和西化的日本人。

 

These days there are many jam shops along the shopping strip selling jams and spreads of all kind made from local ingredients. Fruit jams, red bean spreads, honey spreads, garlic, herbs, savoury spreads.

 

現在商店街兩旁滿是販賣用在地食材製作的果醬和塗醬。水果醬,紅豆醬,蜂蜜醬,大蒜,香草等鹹醬。

 

I had actually forgotten about the jams till I wandered into the Church Street shopping arcade and was invited into the Fine jam shop by the staff working there. Every single flavour of their jam and spread was available for taste test. Open jars were laid out with trays of small biscuits. One after the other, scoop up a small spoon of jam and spread onto the biscuit, enjoy.

 

我其實整個忘了果醬了,直到晃到Church Street商店街被Fine果醬店的店員請進去後才想起來有這一回事。Fine的每種醬料都可以試吃。打開的試吃罐跟小餅乾擺在起。一一用小湯匙挖起一點果醬塗在餅乾上,吃個痛快。

Church Street

Karuizawa Fine

Fine jams

Church behind Church Street

The other jam shops weren’t as generous, some only had a few flavours out for taste test, some didn’t even have any. It could be they were reluctant to open jars in the off-season for fear of the jams having to be thrown away, or business wasn’t good enough to afford it. Without the taste test people were going to be reluctant buying though, especially some of the more exotic flavors. Fine Karuizawa had an anchovy flavoured spread which I would not have bought were I not able to try it first.

 

其他果醬店就沒這麼慷慨,有的只有選幾個提供試吃,有的甚至完全沒有。有可能是店家不想在淡季時多開給試吃,怕需要丟掉浪費,或是生意不夠好划不來。但若沒有試吃真的很難讓人放心買下去,尤其是有的比較奇特的口味。Fine輕井澤就有一款鹹魚醬,若我沒有試吃是絕對不敢買的。

Jam shop

The streets while not packed was by no means empty. Bus loads of tourists were dropped off at the carpark behind the shopping plaza and what shops that opened were filled with activities.

 

街上雖不擁擠但可不是沒遊客。一輛輛遊覽車載來一車車遊客在購物廣場後的停車場把人放下,而街上只要有開的店家都充滿活力。

 

I’m not sure why more than 1/4 of the shops were already closed and another 1/4 had signs up saying this was their last week and they would soon close up until February. If one come in December or January, as I had considered originally, half the shops will no doubt be shut and the town lifeless.

 

我不確定為什麼超過1/4的店都已經歇業了,或是為何另外1/4的店告示這是他們最後一週,開始休息後要到2月才會開。如果12月或 1月來,如我原本有考慮的,超過半數的店家肯定會沒開,鎮上也會毫無生氣。

 

There looks to be enough tourists around, is it really necessary to close up? With this many shops closed there is going to be a vicious cycle where people avoid Karuizawa during winter times thus even more shops close up. Rent still had to be paid right? I have a hard time imagining wages being so high and business so bad that it is better to close up entirely. Somewhere like Like Towada is understandable, the place has its road snowed 2 metres deep in winter, but Karuizawa has the shinkansen and is not far from the expressway, those will be open even in the coldest winters, and Karuizawa has many nearby skii fields and a shopping outlet that ensured a minimum amount of traffic.

 

看起來旅客還不少,真的有需要關店嗎?這數量的店家歇業會造成惡性循環,人們不會想在冬季來,然後就更多店家歇業。房租還是要付不是?我有點難想像員工薪資有高到,或是生意會壞到,歇業會比較划算。若是像十和田湖這樣的地點可以理解,那裡冬天道路積雪2公尺深。但是輕井澤有新幹線,離高速公路也不遠,再寒冷的嚴冬仍能維持交通通暢,況且輕井澤附近有許多滑雪場,還有一個outlet,都會吸引來一定數量的遊客。

 

Karuizawa is nice town, very well kept and interesting. I can imagine it being very nice to visit in spring or autumn when all the shops are open and the streets more lively.

 

輕井澤是個不錯的小鎮,整理得不錯,商店街也很有趣。若春秋店家都開著,街道更熱鬧時來感受一定會更好。

 

The tourist centre at the shopping street had a section exhibiting the history of the old railway. Karuizawa and Takasaki used to be connected before the shinkansen was built and the line made defunct. The Usuitouge pass was so steep special rack rail locomotives had to be connected for trains to navigate the pass.

 

商店街上的遊客中心有一區展示介紹輕井澤的舊鐵道。輕井澤和高崎從前有條鐵道連結,在新幹線開業後才廢棄。碓氷峠的鐵道相當陡峭,通行的列車需要換上特殊的齒軌車頭才能行駛。

Tourist centre

 

There also used to be a small railway from Karuizawa to Kusatsu, must have taken incredible effort to build a railway through such mountainous terrain. The old station of the Kusatsu-Karuizawa railway can still be found at the intersection at the entrance to the ginza strip. It’s a large souvenir shop nowadays.

 

另外輕井澤和草津間也曾有一條小鐵道。要在那麼險峻的山間建造一條鐵路不知花了多少人心血。草輕鐵道的舊車站現在還可看到,就在主街路口。現在是個大土產店。

Leaves in the snow

More jams

Shaw memorial chapel

Soft cream on a cold day?

Sure why not

 

Old Karuizawa station building

It’s approaching noon and I head back to the station and the outlet right on the south side of it. I’m here not for the shopping but for its food court.

 

快中午了。我回到車站到就在南側的outlet。目的不是來逛街,而是這裡的美食街。

Gucci!

The outlet also has a skii field attached to it. The slopes didn’t look very big nor very steep but more than enough for first timers and beginners, with unmatched convenience. One can do some skiing, food and shopping all in one day, as a day trip from Tokyo no less.

 

這個outlet還附設了滑雪場。滑雪道看起來沒有很大或很陡,但是對初學和入門的人來說也足夠,且方便性無人能比。可以從東京一天來回,同時體驗滑雪,美食和逛街。

 

I grabbed a chicken stock ramen from Ramen Nishiki, it was one of the higher rated places to eat at the foodcourt. The taste was good but nothing of particular note, other than being chicken instead of pork stock.

 

The foodcourt also provided disposable teatowels and drinking water. I suppose this is a standard feature of foodcourts in Japan.

 

我在拉麵錦點了碗雞肉白湯拉麵,美食街中評價比較高的一家。味道沒有什麼太特別的,除了不是豬骨而是雞肉湯底外。

 

這裡的美食街也有提供拋棄式茶巾和飲用水。可能這些在日本美食街是標準配備吧。

Foodcourt

Ramen Nishiki

Chicken ramen

Towels and water

After lunch I walked around the outlet. The place is big, broken up into 5 or 6 sections, each having a score of stores. Except a section focused on souvenirs the stores appeared to be grouped in no particular category or commonality.

 

吃完午餐後我繞了outlet一圈。這地方好大,大概分5-6個區塊,每區有近20家店。除了一區是土產外似乎分區上沒有類別或共通點。

Outlet

Attached skii field

The place is meant for someone who can recognize more brands than just Gucci and La Creuset.

 

這裡對品牌認得出超過Gucci和La Creuset的人較有意義。

 

As it was, after a quick walkthrough I headed for the Hoshino resort area. The Shinano railway was co-located next to the shinkansen in the same station. One stop away was Naka-Karuizawa station where a shuttle bus service to Hoshino was available.

 

總之稍微晃一下後往星野渡假區移動。信濃鐵道跟新幹線共用一個站體。坐一站就是中輕井澤,有交通車到星野區。

Shinano railway station

The Hoshino resort area was…. peculiar. I still have not figured how it intends its guests to use its facilities. It’s a loose collection of close but not too closely located facilities. An onsen, a wilderness tour office whose outside pond doubles as a skating ring in winter, an upmarket eatery/restaurant, a shopping village selling very expensive bread, sweets and afternoon teas, massage service and handicrafts. A hotel (that’s too far away from aforementioned facilities) with two churches on its grounds, a villa village that’s still some hundred metres to the onsen and restaurants. If the facilities are meant to provide service to the guests, then the guests must walk there themselves, navigate the lack of signage and paths connecting the areas.

 

星野度假村地區非常的…獨特。我現在還是弄不清楚在設計上他是預期住客如何使用這裡的設施。這裡是由一群相近但不是說太相近的設施組成。有個溫泉,一個森林導覽中心外頭的池塘在冬季也是溜冰場,一個高級食堂/餐廳,一個商店聚落販賣很貴的麵包甜點和下午茶,按摩,手工藝品。一間旅館(但離提到的設施有點遠)花園內有兩個教堂,一個別墅村但離溫泉和餐廳仍有幾百公尺。如果設施是給這些住客用的話,那這些住客必須自己走過去,穿過連結幾個區域標示不明的小徑。

 

The main attraction here is the two churches. The stone church is particularly well known for its design of stone arches whose exterior blended into the landscape and awe inspiring on the inside with its spiral lines and filtered lights. Alas, the place was hosting a wedding and was off-limits to visitors.

 

這裡住要景點是那兩個教堂。石教堂的建築設計尤其出名,一環環石拱門組成的外觀豪不顯眼融入地貌,內部的螺旋線條和射入的光線令人驚嘆。可惜當天有人在辦婚禮,一般訪客禁止入內。

Stone church entrance

Highland church

Garden decoration made of apple?

The area is actually quite small and I had seen everything by 3:30pm. Should I leave early? Or should I stay to see the christmas decorations.

 

Well, I had come this far already…might as well stay a while longer to see everything, I decided.

 

這地區其實挺小的,才3:30該看的也就都看了。該提早離開嗎?還是等一等看這裡的聖誕燈。

 

唉,這麼遠來都來了…就再待一下全部看完吧。

 

The sun was falling beneath the treetops, the temperature plunged. I had to take shelter in the cafe at Harunire Terrace shopping village. My glasses fogged up and it was a while before I could follow the server to a seat. The cafe was most definitely upmarket, there were over two pages of different blends of coffee. I picked the basic seasonal special blend and it came in a french press. The cafe had books on its shelves for guests to read, none interested me however and I just read stuff on my phone to kill time till 5pm.

 

太陽已落入樹梢後,溫度急落。我只好在榆樹小鎮商店街的咖啡店避寒。一入內我的眼鏡滿是霧氣,隔了好久才能跟著服務員到位子。咖啡店真高檔,有兩頁滿滿都是不同的調配咖啡。我選了陽春的季節限定款式,來時是一整個法壓式壺的咖啡。咖啡店書架上有書可以隨意翻閱,不過沒什麼感興趣的,在5點前我就在手機上查東西殺時間。

Harunire Terrace

Pond turned skating rink

Cafe

French press coffee

Cafe

I was starting to understand how the resort was meant to work. It was truly aimed as a resort for relaxation. There seemed to be little to do because the guests wasn’t meant to be kept busy. Grab a coffee, sit down and read a book, gaze out at the forest and creek, chill out for the afternoon.

 

有一點點能體會這渡假村的構思了。這真的是為了放空的度假村。感覺上沒有太多可做的因為本來目的就不是填滿住客的時間。拿杯咖啡,坐下來看本書,望看森林小溪,輕鬆的打發一個下午。

 

The lights came on. I lingered for a while longer still, seduced by the cafe’s warmth. Finally I gathered my weary focus and said farewell to the empty coffee cup.

 

燈亮起來了。我仍待在座位,被咖啡店內的溫暖所迷惑。終於,我集中疲憊的注意力,跟見底的咖啡杯道別。

 

The light was much less impressive than their promotional photos. The area was very poorly lit and the christmas lights lacked vibrancy to overcome the cold. People moved about quickly, in no mood to look at the decorations. And neither was I.

 

燈飾比廣告照片差太多了。整個地區的燈光相當昏暗,聖誕燈的光彩不足對抗刺骨的寒風。人們紛紛快步行走,不心思去看裝飾。我也沒什麼興致了。

Lit terrace

Lit terrace

Xmas tree

I took my photos of the Terrace and the tree outside the onsen. A group of Taiwanese passed by, talking of going to the onsen before finishing the day’s trip.

 

我照了幾張榆樹小鎮和溫泉外的聖誕樹。一群台灣人走過,玩了一天後談說要去溫泉。

 

My mind was frozen by this point and could barely think. The first shuttle that went all the way back to Karuizawa station was still not due for another 40 minutes. I could either try to hang around for that long or I could take the next shuttle to Naka-Karuizawa and go from there.

 

我的思緒現在已經快凍住了,幾乎無法思考。直達輕井澤的交通車還要等40分鐘。我可以想辦法混到那時候,或是搭下一班到中輕井澤。

 

I decided there was no point staying and took the shuttle to Naka-Karuizawa, then back to Karuizawa via the Shinano railway.

 

再待也沒什麼意義,還是坐車到中輕井澤,轉信濃鐵道回輕井澤。

 

At Naka-Karuizawa there was a 10minutes transfer time and I huddled inside the small waiting room with a handful of other tourists, similarly waiting to go back to Karuizawa. We waited until the train approaching announcement came on before going through the gate, none brave enough to spend any more seconds than had to in the freezing wind on the platform.

 

在中輕井澤轉車有10分鐘。我和幾個旅客一起躲在小小的候車室,等著回輕井澤。我們等到電車進站的廣播才去過閘門,沒有勇者願意在月台的寒風中多待一分一秒。

 

There was just enough time for me to grab a rice ball from the 7-11 at the outlet before the next train back to Tokyo.

 

在輕井澤,到下一班回東京的車的時間剛好夠從outlet的7-11拿個飯糰。

Outlet at night

Outlet at night

Rice ball for now

Between the station and the outlet there were again several groups of Taiwanese. Karuizawa might be unusually popular amongst Taiwanese, similar to Takayama which if I recall sees twice as many foreign tourists from Taiwanese than the next highest country (either HK or China).

 

在車站和outlet間又遇到好幾組台灣遊客。輕井澤可能在台灣人中特別受歡迎,跟高山一般。記得高山的台灣旅客是下一個國家(香港還大陸)的兩倍。

 

By the time I’m walking down the street of Suidobashi it was past 8pm. I’ve only had that riceball I ate on the train as a stop-gap and I looked for a place to have dinner.

 

走在水道橋的街道時已經過8點了。到現在只有在車上吃了個飯糰,需要找一個地方吃晚餐。

 

Two buildings before Villa Fountaine was a soba/udon shop, they promoted that they made their own noodles and looked decent enough. I was far too tired to go look elsewhere and just stepped inside.

 

到Villa Fountaine兩個大樓前有家蕎麥烏龍麵店,門口張貼說自家製麵,看起來算可以。我已經筋疲力盡無心另外去找了,於是我跨進門。

Cheap soba/udon place

I punched for the oyakodon set at the meal ticket machine and gave it to the cook at the counter. He asked something and I paused for a second. No, it wasn’t parsing to any question I was expecting, I could not break out the key nouns or verbs. I asked him to please repeat the question again.

 

我在點餐機上按了親子丼套餐,然後把餐票拿給櫃檯的大廚。他問了個問題,我愣住想了想。不行,聽起來不像我預期的任何問題。分不出其中的動詞名詞。我只好請他再說一遍問題。

 

The man gave a nod as if he suddenly understood something. He fished out a printed sheet from the cupboard. It was a common English question and answer sheet. He pointed to the one that asked if I wanted it hot or cold.

 

大廚點了點頭,好似突然懂了什麼。他從櫃子抽出一張什麼東西。是張印有英文的常見問題和回答表。他手指著問我是要熱還是要冷的那行。

 

Doh, of course!

 

Hot, I replied. I’d be crazy to ask for it cold after almost getting frozen up in the highlands.

 

對喔,當然是問這個。

 

熱的,我回答。才剛在高原上快被凍死現在我若還要冷的怕不是瘋了。

 

Being next Villa Fountaine must meant they got a lot of foreign customers, thus the english sheet.

 

在Villa Fountain隔壁大概常會有外國客人吧,所以準備了那張英文問答。

 

The meal portion was very generous for less than 600Y, and it was quite delicious. A good hearty meal.

 

以不到600Y飯菜給的的量很多,味道也不錯。很滿足的一餐。

Dinner Oyakodon and udon set

After a long and exhausting day there was still tasks ahead. It was time to wash my clothes. I planned to sleep early tomorrow so despite having clothing for another day I wanted to get some of the washing done.

 

經過漫長累人的一天仍有事情必須做。該洗衣服了。明天必須早睡所以雖然還有一天的換洗衣服,我打算先把一部分洗好。

 

What I initially felt about Villa Fountaine manifested when I went to use the coin laundry.

 

一開始對Villa Fountaine對住客不太體貼的感覺在投幣洗衣房被證實了。

 

The machine was old and more expensive than other places and required an extra 50Y for detergents, something which I had never had to pay for. The Matsue City Hotel had a sign saying one needed to pay but the front desk just gave them to me free, every other hotel had the machine add them automatically.

 

機器比其他地方老舊昂貴,還需要另外50Y買我從未需買過的洗衣精。松江的City Hotel雖然有告示說跟櫃台買,但櫃台其實還是免費給我的。而其他住過的旅館都是會自動加入。

 

Annoyed, but what had to be done had to be done.

 

有點煩人,但該做的還是必須做。

 

I threw the more needed change of clothes into the laundry and settled into the eating area of the lobby to research what to do the next day.

 

我把比較急迫的衣物丟入洗衣機後,在大廳吃早餐的地方找個位子坐下來等,順便研究明天的行程。

 

Kanto Maigo – Day 3

Morning. I already ate what bread the hotel provided last night as a late night snack. To find breakfast I went out to the 7-11.

 

天亮了。我昨晚已經把旅館給的麵包當宵夜吃了。這樣早餐去7-11解決吧。

 

Snow had fell thick overnight and the roofs and grounds were covered in snow. Not the roads though. Kusatsu ran hot water from their onsen heat exchangers beneath the roads and made them snow proof.

 

夜間下了場大雪,屋頂和地面上都覆蓋著雪。道路一點積雪也沒有。草津把冷卻溫泉的轉換器排出的熱水導入路面下,成了免費的融雪裝置。

Kusatsu morning

Kusatsu morning

Breakfast

Jizou no yu

After breakfast I grabbed the towel and handbag and headed to the Sai no Kawara bath. It was too cold for yukata, it’s okay though since Sai no Kawara was a paid bath with changing rooms and supposedly had lockers.

 

早餐後我拿了毛巾和提袋去西之河原露天溫泉。一大早穿浴衣太冷,西之河原是付費的溫泉似乎有脫衣間和置物櫃可放衣物,應該不用擔心。


The shops were still closed, quiet, except the manju shops filled with activity behind the shut store front, steam rising above them as they steamed manjus in preparation for the day ahead.

 

店家都還關著,寧睡著,只有饅頭店的門後充滿朝氣,上頭冒出的蒸氣可知他們正忙這蒸饅頭準備開店。

 

The snow covered Sai no Kawara park was yet another feel different from yesterday and yesterday night. It was frozen and still, the spell broken only by the rising steam. The snow covered Jizou statues wearing hoods and cloaks were a delight out of Japaneses folktales.

 

雪白的西之河原公園又跟昨天日夜不同一番氣氛。凍結的世界,時間凝結住了,只有上升的熱氣打破這魔法。覆蓋著雪的地藏雕像穿著頭巾和披肩,從日本民間傳說走出來等著善心人。

Snow covered jizou

 

Jizou

 

Sai no Kawara

 

Sai no Kawara onsen

Sai no Kawara onsen

The Sai no Kawara onsen was famous for its large outdoor bath, since there was plenty of onsen water it could afford to be wasteful. Despite its size its water remained very hot. Above average, not as hot as Shirohata no Yu yesterday. Near the entrance the water was the coolest as the hot water was fed in from about 2 /3 down the length of the bath. There were three other bathers but they soon left, and I had the huge bath to myself. I floated in the water, watching the steam rising all around toward the cloudy skies, losing track of time and self, in that moment the whole universe was contained in that bath. It was a strangely unsettling experience.

 

西之河原溫泉是有名的超大露天溫泉,也只有這裡溫泉水這麼充沛的地方可以這樣揮霍。盡管池子很大水一樣很熱。比一般的溫泉熱,沒有昨天的白旗之湯熱。由於溫泉注入口是在大約池子2/3長的地方,靠近入口處比較涼。我到時裡頭的另外三個泡湯客過不久就離開了,巨大的池子就被我一個人包場了。我在水中飄浮著,望著四周升向灰色天空的蒸氣,慢慢迷失時間和自我,那一刻全宇宙都容納在溫泉池內。很奇妙,又有點令人不安的感覺。

 

After the onsen bath the shops were starting to open. The shops here also opened early, no doubt to take advantage of people who stayed overnight who were now looking for souvenirs to take home. Especially the manjus which has to be eaten fresh.

 

泡完溫泉回程上有些店家已經開了。這裡的店也比較早開,大概是看準住客們離開前要買點特產帶回去。尤其是饅頭需要新鮮著吃。

 

A small incident happened on the way, I dropped my tripod and something came off. I picked it up and looked it over. The plastic head holding the mount to the pole had completely snapped in two and was unrepairable. A lot of little accidents on this trip so far. This one could be addressed, have to make time to go out and buy a new tripod once I get back to Tokyo.

 

在逛街時出了點意外,三腳架沒拿好掉地上了,從中摔出了什麼。我撿起看了看。連接腳架和雲台的塑膠頭斷成了兩半,沒辦法修了。這次旅行中似乎有很多小地方出差錯。這個算好解決,回到東京後再買一個新的就行。

 

I return to the hotel and checked out, leaving my luggage there to be picked up later. There was one last thing to experience in Kusatsu.

 

我回到旅館退房,把行李留著去搭巴士時拿。在草津還有一件事不可不體驗。

 

Because Kusatsu’s onsen is so hot, people in ancient time had to wait a long time for it to cool before able to take a bath, so overtime there developed a special tradition of cooling down the water by stirring it with a giant paddle and jikanyu “timed bath”, where one paddles the water to cool it, pour the water on one’s head and then bathes for exactly 3 minutes on the command of a bath leader. Overtime the paddling became a song and dance tradition which is still performed in the Netsu no Yu. For those interested in the full on experience there are baths in Kusatsu that hosts timed baths.

 

因為草津的溫泉實在太熱了,古時候要等許久等到水溫冷下來後才能泡湯,於是發展出了一種用長木板攪動池水來促進冷卻速度的文化,還有時間湯,聽泡湯指揮的口令一起攪拌冷卻,舀水沖頭,然後跳下去泡三分鐘起來。久而久之用木板攪動溫泉的動作發展成一種湯舞的歌舞文化,現在在熱乃湯內還有表演。若對時間湯有興趣的話草津也有溫泉池提供這種體驗。

 

The Netsu no Yu puts on about 3 performances each morning and afternoon, the later afternoon sessions become quickly packed as this is one of the first things guests would think of doing after checking in.

 

熱乃湯差不多早上下午各3場表演,且由於大家入住後都會想要去看,下午的場次很快就會爆滿。

 

The performance itself is only a few minutes. To create a more complete experience they added more elements to create 4 segments The first is a traditional dance performed on stage, then the yumomi performance, then audiences are invited to try to paddle the water as part of the yumomi themselves, then finally a slightly different yumomi performance that ends with a giant splash of water.

 

表演本身只有幾分鐘。為了提供一個完整的節目,添加了許多元素組成四個橋段。第一個是在台上表演的傳統舞蹈,然後才是湯舞表演,然後觀眾們可以上去自己試試看攪動木板加入湯舞,最後是另一段不太一樣的湯舞,收尾時用木板濺起高大的水花。

Dance performance

Yumomi

Final splash

After watching the performances I bought some sweets and manjus to bring home, picked up my luggage and went to the bus terminal to begin the journey back to Tokyo.

 

看完表演後利用剩餘的時間買了些和果子和饅頭給家人,回頭拿了行李去巴士中心搭車回東京。

Matsumura manju, a famous manju shop in Kusatsu

The bus was full. Wait what?

 

巴士客滿了。什麼?

 

If I couldn’t get on this bus, the next bus was not due for another hour and half.

 

若這班上不去的話,下一班可要再等一個半小時。

 

Thankfully the staff explained that they were bringing in another bus and that there was a 30 minute transfer time at Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi, there was no worry about missing the train. Looking around, there were almost 20 people in the waiting area waiting on the second bus.

 

萬幸,站務人員解釋說他們正調派另一輛巴士,在長野原草津口轉JR有30分鐘的空檔,一定趕得上不用擔心。左右看看,候車室大約有近20人在等第二班車。

 

I wandered around the bus terminal for abit, checking out the souvenir shop and eatery here. The souvenir shop occupied a small space in one corner of the waiting room. What’s sold here did not defer much from what’s sold in other shops. Mostly sweets and onsen made beauty products. There’s an eatery downstairs, the menu looked like it would be a decent choice for lunch or dinner if one wasn’t picky.

 

也只能巴士中心晃晃,看看有什麼紀念品店和小吃店了。紀念品店就在候車室的一個小角落,賣的跟其他店差不多,糕點和溫泉美容品。樓下有一家餐館,看菜單若不挑的話吃午餐或晚餐應該很OK。

 

About 10 minutes later the bus showed up. The driver asked if there were anyone who was not going to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station. There were none. So the driver turned the bus into an express and drove directly to the station without stopping instead, arriving only a few minutes later than the previous bus.

 

第二班巴士大約10分鐘後轉入巴士中心。駕駛問大家有沒有人不是去長野原草津口的。沒有。於是司機便把巴士改成快車,中途不停直接開到車站,只比前一輛車晚幾分鐘到。

 

The train was once again a local train except this one didn’t go all the way to Takasaki, instead everyone had to transfer at Shin-Maebashi, about 3 stops north out from Takasaki. The transfer was simple and well timed like most Japanese connections, simply walk across the platform to the waiting train.

 

轉接的電車依然是區間車,不過這般連高崎都沒到,所有人必須在新前橋,大約離高崎還有3站,下車轉另一班車。轉乘跟日本大部分的轉接一樣簡捷,走過月台搭對面等待的車就成了。

 

The communities along the line likely didn’t have enough patronage to support frequent services, combining tourists going to Kusatsu onto the local trains was a way to increase the number of trains and made life a little more convenient for the locals. Still given the number of people visiting Kusatsu I could not help but think that they could add one or two more express services a day. Currently there were only two express trains on weekdays, both timed to be more convenient for tourists coming to Kusatsu (noon and afternoon for check in at hotels) but not quite as convenient for those leaving (leaving in the afternoon and late afternoon, none if one wanted to leave in the morning).

 

沿線村落的搭乘人數不足以支撐多的班次,利用去草津的遊客來補足區間車的使用率的確可讓居民的生活更方便。但是看這去草津的遊客數量,不得不認為應該可多加一兩班快車。目前平日只有兩班特急,時間上兩個皆是為了去草津的住宿客設計(中午和下午到配合入住),要離開的旅客就沒那麼方便(下午和黃昏,若要早上離開沒有快車)

 

By the time I got to Takasaki it was almost 1pm and I was starving.

 

到高崎時已經快一點,肚子早在餓扁了。

 

I planned to go the Daruma temple in the afternoon and there was only one train every hour. The next one was at 1:22, I had less than half an hour to toss my luggage into a locker and get lunch. Doesn’t look like I have time to go to that kamameshi (rice in a pot) place.

 

下午計畫去達摩寺而去的電車一小時只有一班。下一班是1:22,我只有不到半小時把行李箱丟到置物櫃內和解決午餐。看來沒時間去那家釜飯了。

 

First thing first, I followed the signs to the lockers, downstairs and past a food court. I didn’t have enough changes on me, stupid locker only takes 100Y coins. I looked about for a coin exchanger and noticed there was also a row of lockers that used suica to access. Even better. I chucked my luggages into the locker and swiped my card.

 

該做的先做,我順著置物櫃指標找去,下樓經過一個美食街。身上的零錢不夠,該死的置物櫃只收100Y硬幣。我左右張望,看哪裡有零錢機,此時發覺另一排置物櫃可用suica。這更好。我把行李塞入置物櫃後拿卡刷下去。

 

Now, as to the problem of lunch…. I turned to the nearby foodcourt passed a moment ago. There was the same Nagasaki noodle place I had last time in Hakata, a ramen place, some rice don place. Oh, a Mos Burger, perfect.

 

那麼,午餐怎麼解決呢。我轉回剛經過的美食街。有家上回在博多吃過的長崎麵店,拉麵,丼飯。喔,有Mos Burger,正好。

 

Unadventurous, quick, not too pricey and easy to take with me if time runs short.

 

無挑戰性,快速,價錢合理,若時間不夠隨手拿著也方便。

Mos Burger

I ordered a seasonal special and found a spot to sit. The food court provided drinking water and paper cups and disposable teatowels to wipe down the tables. Never noticed that on previous trips.

 

我點了季節限定漢堡,找了個位子坐下。美食街有提供紙杯和飲水機,還有免洗茶巾用來擦桌子。前幾次旅行好像沒有注意到這些。

Warabi Katsu Burger

Daruma temple in Takasaki is said to have been founded several hundred years ago original as a temple of worship of the 11 headed kannon. During a flood a piece of black wood was seen giving off miraculous light and was preserved. An old man later dreamt of Daruma commanding him to carve a figure of him using the black wood. Thus the temple was born. Daruma was a legendary monk who was said to have also started the kungfu tradition at the Shaolin temple. The temple’s full name is Shorinzan Darumaji or Shaolin Mountain Daruma Temple, whether there’s any connection between Shaolin in China and this one is unclear to me.

 

高崎的達摩寺據說是幾百年前創寺,一開始祭拜的是十一面觀音。後來有次洪水衝來一塊散放祥光的黑色木頭,於是被人留下供奉。後來一名老人夢到達摩旨意他將木頭雕塑為佛像,才成了達摩寺。達摩是一個傳說很多的得道僧人,也據說是少林武學的創始者。高崎達摩寺的全名是少林山達摩寺,至於跟中土少林寺有沒有直接淵源就不清楚了。

 

There is a tradition involving Daruma dolls, a rounded doll in the image of Daruma. The dolls are created with blank eyes. People who wished for something was to paint the left eye of the doll when making their wish, then complete the other one once their wish become true.

 

達摩有個特別有關達摩翁祈願的傳統。木偶製作時兩眼是留白的,許願的人許願時將左眼畫上,等如願了再把另一隻眼也畫上。

 

This is why there are mountains of dolls piled up on either side of the worship hall.

 

於是佛堂兩旁的達摩翁堆的如山一般高。

 

The temple is just a short 5 minutes trail ride out from Takasaki. Get off at Gunma-Yawata station then a short 1.5k walk to the temple.

 

佛寺離高崎5分鐘車程。在群馬八幡站下走1.5公里。

 

The road went through low density suburb area. On either side were mostly one or two storey houses, except for a strangely located rice shop and what looked to be a car parts factory. Finally cross a busy bridge over a river and one arrives at the foot of the temple.

 

往佛寺的路經過低密度社區。兩旁大多是一兩樓獨棟屋子,除了一個不知為何在這的米店和一個汽車零件工廠。最後經一個繁忙的橋過河就到佛寺山腳下。

 

I mistakenly went up via the parking access road on the side. All for the best as the main entrance was a very long flight of steps that would make all who visits bow in respect.

 

我太早轉結果經停車場道路從側門進入的。不過看正門讓人心生敬意的超長階梯或許這樣的走法比較好。

 

The autumn leaves were at their peak, the temple halls nested amidst the steep hillside brushed with vibrant orange and red.

 

正是紅葉最亮麗的時候,一座座佛堂錯落在沾滿紅橙水彩的丘陵邊上。

Daruma temple

Daruma temple

Couple taking wedding photo

It was a weekday and there were few people about. There was couple in traditional clothing getting their wedding album taking and two or three others here to pray and see the autumn leaves.

 

今天是平日,寺院裡沒有什麼人。有一對在拍婚紗的新人,另外兩三個人是來拜佛看紅葉。

Autumn leaves and Daruma hall

There were many dolls presented to the temple, some big, some small. Most were presented by businesses wishing for successes, the biggest ones were over a metre tall.

 

還願給佛寺的達摩翁也太多了,有小有大。多是企業祈求生意興隆的,最大的有一公尺大。

Daruma hall

Darumas

Darumas

 

To one side was a small museum displaying hundreds of different Daruma dolls. On one wall was a map showing how the Daruma dolls differ between areas of Japan. Daruma from Takasaki was the quintessential round squash shaped, some area had ones that were slender, some cylindrical, some more egg shaped. Some were cute, some had a regal expression, others stern and serious.

 

達摩堂一旁有一個小展示館,擺有數百個不同的達摩翁。一面牆上有張地圖標示日本各地達摩翁不同的樣子。高崎的達摩翁是最熟悉的圓瓜型,有些地區的比較纖細,有的是圓柱型,有的比較像雞蛋。有的表情可愛,有的莊嚴,也有的很嚴肅。

 

I spent maybe 30 minutes at the temple. There was also only one train an hour back to Takasaki and it would take at least 10 minutes to get back to the station.

 

我只在佛寺待了30分鐘。回去高崎的班車也是一小時一般,而走回車站就要10分鐘。

Daruma temple main stairs

After returning to Takasaki I picked up my luggage and hopped on a Shinkansen, this time an E7 train. The trip back to Ueno took 45 minutes and I estimated that I’d get to check in about half past 4pm.

 

回到高崎,拿出行李去搭新幹線,這次搭到的是E7型列車。到上野要45分鐘,預估四點半入住。

The transparent milk tea.. tastes worse than the real one.

My hotel for the next two day was Villa Fountaine Kudanshita, a strange name since it was closer to Jimbocho station, even the Suidobashi station was closer.

 

接下來兩天的旅館是Villa Fountaine九段下,名字怪怪的因為離神保町比較近,連水道橋站都近一點。

 

Coming from the shinkansen I had to first go from Ueno to Akihabara, transfer there onto Suidobashi. If I had known better I might have transferred at Tokyo station since transfering there to the Chuo line then transferring again at Ochanomizu required much less walking and stairs than Ueno and Akihabara despite the same number of transfers.

 

由於是搭新幹線進市區,要先從上野轉車去秋葉原,然後再轉去水道橋。不過我若對路線比較熟的話就會到東京再搭中央線快速然後在御茶之水轉慢車,這樣月台比較相近,不用像上野秋葉原走那麼多階梯。

 

The area immediately outside the Suidobashi station was filled with izakayas, restaurants, pachiko and karaokes, before giving way to quieter office areas.

 

水道橋站外滿是居酒屋,餐廳,小彈珠和卡拉OK,過一段後轉成安靜的辦公區。

Suidoubashi

Villa Fountaine was in one of those quieter areas, some 500 metres from Suidobashi and another two blocks to go till the busy main street above Jimbocho station.

 

Villa Fountaine是在這比較安靜的區域,離水道橋500公尺,距離神保町站上熱鬧的大道還要再走兩條街。

 

Villa Fountaine felt more western (not sure why, just a feeling). Its offerings is supposed to be on the higher side of business hotels and catering to foreigners (it has airport limousine and some of its hotels has shuttle bus running to Tokyo station) and comparatively does have a larger room.

 

Villa Fountaine感覺比較西式,說不上為什麼。提供的服務理當在商務旅館中比較高級,也偏外國住客(機場接送車有到,有分店有到東京車站的交通車),房間有比較較大。

 

Something felt amiss however which I could not quite grap. It could be the darker decor or the barebone amenities offered, it didn’t felt as welcoming.

 

不過有點地方不太對勁。有可能是裝潢比較昏暗,或著是提供的設施有點簡陋,總之沒有很討喜。

Villa Fountaine Kudanshita

Villa Fountaine Kudanshita

By the time I have settled in it was past 5pm. I grabbed a bento from the nearby supermarket and had dinner while browsing for where to buy a new tripod.

 

整頓好後已過5點。我從附近超市隨便拿了個便當回房邊吃邊研究去哪買新的腳架。

Bento, milk ,fruits

BIC CAMERA at Akihabara was the closest and I decided to check out there instead.

 

BIC CAMERA秋葉原看來最近,就去那吧。

 

Not realizing that each BIC CAMERA might stock completely different items. Akihabara turned out to be not the best choice to look for tripods. They had a good selection but all too professional; none of the cheap, small travel tripods I was looking for.

 

完全沒意識到BIC CAMERA每家擺的東西可能完全不一樣。結果秋葉原可能不是最適合買腳架的地方。不是說沒有選擇,選擇很多,但都太專業沒有我要的便宜輕便的攜帶腳架。

BIC CAMERA Akiba

 

Akihabara station was having some gatcha festival

From their websites stock levels I deduced that the shop with the most selection was the Ikebukuro store. It was half an hour to get there. I had actually gotten to Ueno before realizing the Yurakucho one, a station south of Tokyo station, had almost as good a variety and it showed to have the one I wanted in stock. Immediate reverse, hop off the train and onto the one on the other side going the other way.

 

從網站上的存貨表看來池袋的選擇最多。過去那要半小時。我都做到上野了才發覺有樂町,東京往南一站而以,就有不少選擇,而我看上的那款也顯示有貨。急忙掉頭,下車上對面反方向的車。

 

The BIC CAMERA is right outside the station, it did not seem bigger than the Akihabara store, just a different focus. Cameras had half of B1 allocated as opposed to the small corner it occupied in Akihabara. Here there was a huge variety of tripods, from travel ones to big, heavy clubbing weapons aimed at professionals. Curiously, some of the funky super compact tripods I saw at Akihabara were nowhere to be found here.

 

BIC CAMERA就在一出車站對面,看起來沒有比秋葉原的大,只是重心不同。B1有半層樓分給相機部門,不像秋葉原只有一個角落。這裡的選擇就多了,從旅行攜帶型但巨大,可以用來捶人的專業用腳架。有趣的是,在秋葉原看到的超炫摺疊腳架這裡卻沒有。

BIC CAMERA Yurakucho

I bought the tripod I had came here for then decided I might as well wander through the other floors and see what they sold.

 

我拿了我要的腳架,想想既來之則逛之吧,去其他樓層看看有賣什麼。

BIC CAMERA Yurakucho

I was genuinely surprised when I found they had an entire floor dedicated to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The store was catering to Chinese tourists, I realized. Indeed, there were more tax-free counters than there were regular ones.

 

發現有一整層是藥妝,挺意外的。這家分店很明顯是瞄準中國觀光客的,免稅櫃檯竟然比一般結帳櫃檯多。

 

In the games section, PS3 games were on clearance for 500 to 1000Y each. I thumbed through them, finding nothing of interest. A shame, would have been a treat if I could get the rest of the Atelier games.

 

在電玩區PS3的遊戲正在清倉,一片500,1000Y而以。我翻了翻但沒什麼好遊戲。可惜了,若能把鍊金術師系列收集全倒也不錯。

 

On the way back I went to the chemist store next to Suidobashi station and bought a small tube of handcream. BIC CAMERA sold handcream too but they were big bottles. I had meant to get handcream before going to Kusatsu but the lost jacket that day took away all the time, now my fingers were hurting from exposure to the cold dry air.

 

回旅館路上我在水道橋站旁的藥店買的一小管護手霜。剛BIC CAMERA有賣但太大罐了。其實去草津前就有打算買的但搞丟外套耗去了時間,現在手被凍的破皮有點痛。

Kanto Maigo – Day 2

Maybe it’s the time difference, I woke up fairly early, the world outside had only just begun to lighten with a shallow blue. The original plan for breakfast was to check out then go to Sushisei in Tokyo station’s Gransta. That opens at 7 which was still over an hour away. I decided to grab an onigiri and enjoy it with some coffee in the lobby.

 

或許是時差吧,比往常更早醒,外頭才慢慢揭開淡藍薄紗。原本計畫要等退房後去東京車站的Gransta吃壽司清的。那家要7點才開,還要一個多小時。我於是下樓買了個飯團在大廳配咖啡吃。

Picking a riceball at Lawson

 

Global Cabin lobby

 

Global Cabin provides many mangas

After an enjoyable light breakfast I headed upstairs to pack up my things, reorganize items such as moving the inflight reading book into the suitcase.

 

享用過簡單的早餐後我上樓整理行李,把一些像飛機上看的書這些不需要的東西收到行李箱內。

 

My jacket was nowhere to be found.

 

As Tokyo was not warmer than expected, I had not worn my jacket yet and it was still bundled in its special bag, almost like a rolled up mini-sleeping bag.

 

遍尋不著我的外套。

 

東京比預期的暖,還沒穿過我的外套所以外套還裝在專屬的袋子裏,捲成一捆像睡袋似。

 

When did I lose it?

 

I searched the cabin, then the floor, then the lobby. The jacket was nowhere to be found.

 

什麼時候不見得?

 

我找了客艙,整層樓,大聽。都看不到外套的蹤影。

 

Panic set in. Kusatsu Onsen was high up in the mountains, the temperatures was in the single digits and might even be below zero at night. I had better find that jacket or I would have to buy a replacement. At least Uniqlo was everywhere, it was a problem that could be solved with money, albeit an expensive one.

 

這下有點慌了。草津溫泉可是在高山上,溫度只有個位數,晚上甚至可能到零下。若找不到的話勢必要買一個新的。至少Uniqlo到處都是,算花錢可以解決的問題,雖然很貴。

 

I asked the front desk if anyone had found a jacket. No one had. Someone might have taken it but it seemed like it would be a silly thing to steal. I checked out all the same and decided to check outside, backtracking my path from the station last night.

 

我問櫃檯有沒有人看到外套。沒有。有可能被人拿走了,但外套又沒什麼好偷的。我還是先辦理退房然後到外頭看看,循昨晚來旅館的路徑找去。

 

The streets looked very different in the day, hard to tell if I was looking at the same streets so I sweeped an extra one or two to be sure. Nothing was found.

 

白天裡街道看起來很不一樣,很難確定昨晚走的是不是同一條。以防萬一我多走了一兩條街。還是沒找到。

 

At this point I was sure I had lost it between the station and Global Cabin, since I had a vague memory of adjusting the straps tying it to the backpack before getting on the train at Shinagawa and if I had lost it on the train other passengers were sure to call out.

 

這時我可確認我是在車站到Global Cabin中間掉的,有個印象在品川上電車前我還調整過把外套綁在背包上的提帶。若在電車上掉的一定有人會喊一聲。

 

I ran back to the Cabin front desk and asked them if it’s better if I ask nearby convenience stores or check with the police. The police, was the reply, and they pointed me to a police post by the station.

 

我跑回Global Cabin問櫃檯若是這樣我該問附近便利商店還是警察。問警察,他們回答道,同時跟我指說車站附近有個交番。

 

The police station was located in front of the station, at the corner of the main street and the bus loop. I walked up to them and explained to them that I had lost my jacket and described my jacket to them.(I had called mom to confirm the brand of the jacket)

 

交番就在車站前,公車圓環跟主街的交叉路口。我上前跟他們解釋我掉了外套,還有外套長什麼樣子。(跟媽聯絡過確認外套的廠牌)

The police post before Gotanda station


In retrospect, my Japanese had really improved enough that I could explain the situation without looking up words and speak pre-translating from English in the head.

 

現在回想,我的日文無意中進步到可以直接跟他們解釋狀況,不用預先查字典或在腦中思考英文該怎麼翻成日文。

 

They asked me about the jacket’s appearance, when I lost it. They nodded when I mentioned the jacket’s brand. A good sign.

 

他們詢問了外套的外觀,我何時掉的。我提到外套廠牌時他們點了點頭。好跡象。

 

Someone did bring in something similar to what I was describing, they said, but it was not there.

 

Wait, they found it but it was not there? I was thoroughly confused and my heart dropped.

 

的確有人拿來類似形容的東西給他們。他們這麼說。但是不在這裡。

 

哈,找到了但不在這?真是把我弄糊塗了,浮上的心又沉了下。

 

One of the policeman gestured for me to follow him out. He pointed to a map on the giant board nearby. Someone did bring it in, and they had sent it on to the main Osaki police station, I would have to go there to pick it up.

 

其中一位警官招手要我跟他出去。他指向一旁的地圖看板。的確有人拿來,但是他們已經把東西痛到大崎警察局去了,我必須去那裡取回。

 

I was relieved. The trip was going to be delayed but it looked like I was going to get my jacket back. I thanked the policemen and they fared me well, wishing me to take care.

 

放心了。行程會有所耽擱但看來外套是能找回來了。我向兩位警察道謝。他們也跟我道別,要我路上小心。

 

Osaki police station was about 10 minutes walk from Gotanda station. There was a policeman standing on duty outside and after explaining, he pointed me to the second floor.

 

大崎警察局離五反田車站走路10分鐘遠。外頭有個警察站崗,聽我解釋後他指引我到二樓。

 

Inside, I was asked to fill in some forms and waited for them to bring out the jacket. There were some confusion because apparently my jacket had been brought in with another bag full of things which they assumed belonged to the same person. They had to call the police post to double check whether the person who brought them in said the jacket was found with the bag or near the bag.

 

在局內,他們給了我一些表格填寫,等他們把外套拿出來。出了些亂,原來我的外套是跟另一袋東西一起送來的,他們於是誤以為是同一個人掉的。他們聯絡交番確認撿到的人是說外套跟袋子一起撿到的還是只是在附近撿到的。

 

I was asked to check the jacket to confirm it was mine. The strap of the jacket’s bag had snapped which must be why it fell off the backpack.

 

他們請我確認外套內容。外套袋子的提帶斷了,怪不得會從背包上掉下來。

 

After about 30 minutes, I finally left happy with my jacket in hand. I returned to Gotanda and thanked the policemen at the patrol post, then resumed my planned day.

 

大概花了30分鐘,我終於高興的抱著外套走出警察局。我回五反田的交番謝過那裡的警察後,重新開始一天的計畫。

 

It wasn’t such a bad experience. The lost and found in Japan was as legendary as people said. Still, best take extra care going forward.

 

有這經歷也不壞。日本遺失物找回真如傳說的一樣。不過,往後還是多多小心吧。

 

It was by now after 8:30 and way behind schedule. I had not had breakfast yet and I had not bought my rail pass either. I was definitely going to miss the direct express from Ueno to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi. The best hope was skipping breakfast and see how much time I could make up by taking the shinkansen to Takasaki.

 

現在已經過8:30了,進度超落後。而且還沒正式吃早餐,也還沒買鐵路周遊卷。從上野直達長野原草津口的班車是絕對趕不上了。最好的方法是省略早餐,看坐新幹線到高崎能搶回多少時間。

 

I got my pass at Tokyo station at the JR East tour office at the Marunouchi north exit. Unfortunately looked like I was going to miss the shinkansen train by a few minutes that would have allowed me to catch up to the Kusatsu express at Takasaki. I checked the connections timetable. Was not too bad, I would have to take the local train from Takasaki to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi and arrive about 30 minutes later than I would have with the express.

 

我在東京車站丸之內北口的東日本旅遊中心買了pass。可惜幾分鐘前剛錯過能在高崎趕上特急列車的新幹線。我確認了一下轉乘時刻表。還不算太糟,從高崎搭區間車只會比沒趕上的特急慢30分鐘到長野原草津口。

Marunouchi North

The shinkansen train was a soon to be phased out E4 series, the only double decker shinkansen train type.

 

The E4 train was being phased out because it was old and too slow compared to the E7 on the Hokuriku line which shared some of the tracks. An accidental luck that I managed to ride the double decker before it was gone.

 

搭的新幹線是快要退休的E4型列車,唯一有雙層的新幹線車型。

 

E4列車被淘汰是因為太舊,跟共用一部分路線的新式E7列車比慢太多。能剛巧在退休前搭到這種雙層列車真是太好了。

E4 train

 

E4 stairway

 

The train definitely had an aged feel to it. The lighting was not as bright and the seat cushions a little faded. Because of the double decking the vestibule area felt crowded, cramming in an elevator for the onboard service trolleys and stairs heading up and down.

 

這車果然感覺就很舊。燈光不是很亮,坐墊也有點褪色。由於雙層的原故上車處相當擁擠,需要塞入升降販賣推車的電梯和連結上下層的樓梯。

 

Originally I headed downstairs as there were less people, then I thought it there were still seats, why not go upstairs to enjoy the better view. That was one advantage with the double deck, the upper deck offered a high vantage point often over the sound barriers by the tracks.

 

原本我往比較沒人的下層走,然後才想到反正有位子何不坐視野比較好的上層。雙層車廂的好處就是上層提供了很棒的制高點,不會被軌道旁的隔音板導到。

 

After Omiya when the buildings begins to thin out, I noticed a small white peak in the distance. It was Mount Fuji. Even if Hakone failed to give a clear view of the mountain, I can say I have once seen the great Mount Fuji.

 

過了大宮後擁擠的大樓慢慢變稀少,在遠方可看到一個小小白色山峰。是富士山。就算箱根那天天氣不好被雲擋住,這次也可說看過富士山。

Mount Fuji from the shinkansen

There was almost 30 minutes transfer time at Takasaki. The station was smaller and basic than expected despite being the junction of the Hokuriku and Joetsu shinkansen lines. Had expected something closer to Okayama. (Okayama actually sees twice as much traffic than Takasaki so what was seen was appropriate, really shows how sparse the population in eastern Japan gets once outside of the Kanto area)

 

在高崎轉車要等快30分鐘。車站意外的簡易,原本想北陸和上越新幹線交叉的車站應該會更熱鬧一點,類似岡山站那樣。(岡山站的使用人數其實是高崎的兩倍,所以這樣的車站大小其實差不多,可見在關東外人口有多稀少)

 

It would be past 12 by the time the local train gets to Kusatsu and I only had a single onigiri for breakfast. I grabbed a drink and an eki-ben to eat on the way.

 

區間車要過12點才會到草津,而早上到現在才吃那麼一個飯糰。我買了一罐飲料和一個便當準備在車上吃。

 

The stationed sold daruma shaped eki-bens. Takasaki was home to the famous Daruma temple which I planned on visiting on the way back.

 

車站裡有賣達摩形狀的便當。高崎是有名的達摩寺的所在地,預期回程時會去參拜。

Bento shop Takasaki

A surprising number of people boarded the train. Even well past the small township dotted rural areas there were still a quarter of the people left on board. Guess there were just that many people headed for Kusatsu.

 

上車的人意外的多。就算過了小村點綴的田野後車上依然剩四分之一的乘客。要去草津的人就是這麼多吧。

 

The view outside reminded of when I went to Yamadera. Steep mountain valleys of red and orange basked in a golden light. Occasionally a few homesteads popped into view across the river before the train disappeared into narrow tunnels.

 

外頭的景色讓我想起去山寺那次。紅色橘色的陡峭山谷沈浸在金色陽光下。偶爾可看到有莊園在河對岸,電車進入山洞一閃就不見了,

Hello Kitty daruma bento

 

Bento. Taste is okay, may have needed some pickles to refresh the taste.

90 minutes later the train finally arrived at Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi. Almost 3 hours since departing from Tokyo and there was still some way to go. There was still another 25 minutes bus ride from here to Kusatsu Onsen. Scores of passengers streamed through the station and onto the connecting bus.

 

90分鐘後終於來到長野原草津口。從東京出發已經是3小時前的事,到目的地依然還有好一段路。還要坐25分鐘巴士到草津溫泉。二三十名乘客魚貫穿過車站踩上等待著的巴士。

 

The bus accepted suica which I used. One could also take a boarding token and pay on disembarking. The bus had undercar storage so luggages are no problem.

 

巴士可以用西瓜卡所以就用了。也可以拿乘車卷等下車再付現。車下有行李空間不用擔心車上放不下。

 

After winding through the mountains, the bus finally pulls into Kusatsu bus terminal. On automatic mode, I followed the others to the Yubatake, the famous onsen field that flowed through the middle of town. I had walked the length of it before realizing I had been looking at the map the wrong way. The bus terminal was on the same side of the Yubatake as my hotel which meant I had walked way past it already.

 

穿過彎曲的山路,巴士終於駛入草津巴士站。我在自動模式下跟著其他人往湯畑走去,那個小鎮中央有名的溫泉廣場。我都快走到另一頭時才意識到我地圖方向弄反了。巴士中心跟旅館是在湯畑的同一側,也就是說我已經錯過了。

 

Grumpily I dragged my luggage back up the road.

 

我氣呼呼的拖著行李回頭走上坡。

 

My stay in Kusatsu was Futabaya. A small hotel with a special focus on catering to foreigners (I chose it only because it’s close to the yubatake). It was early however and only the owner was there, a slightly grumpy old man who had thought I had showed up expecting to check-in. His tone improved when I told him in Japanese I just wanted to leave my luggage there.

 

在草津住的是Futabaya。一個有特別針對外國旅客的小旅館(但選他只是因為離湯畑近)。還很早,只有旅館老闆在,一個脾氣有點硬的老頭,以為我來是想現在就辦理入住。我跟他說我只是想把行李放著後他態度馬上好多了。

Futabaya

Time to hit the onsen town streets. Since I did not intend to visit the onsens till after check-in (obviously), I took the opportunity to check out the Yubatake and many shops lining the nearby streets.

 

可以去逛溫泉街囉!在入住前我沒打算去泡溫泉(當然了),剛好用這時間看看湯畑和兩旁的商店。

 

Kusatsu could be described as the postcard onsen town. Even its layout was perfect, I could not tell whether this was by design or very good fortune of geography. The town was of course centred by the Yubatake which was a long oval dividing the town into roughly 4 directions. Top (where the source of the onsen pours forth), down (where the onsen pours in a magnificent waterfall into the pool below) and left side, right side.

 

草津可說是最典型的溫泉小鎮。連小鎮的分佈也很完美,不知道是特意設計的或是地勢上運氣好。由湯畑為中心小鎮可分為四個區塊。上側(溫泉源頭),下(溫泉水瀑布般落至下方水池),然後左,右。

 

At the top was a large open courtyard sits the community onsen Sirohatanoyu, the imposing public onsen Gozanoyu. At one end of the courtyard a flight of steep steps lead to a shrine on top of a hill which provided excellent view of the town.

 

上側是個廣場,有社區公共溫泉的白旗之湯和大眾溫泉御座之湯,廣場一端有一陡峭台階通往丘陵上的神社,可俯視整個小鎮。

Shirohata onsen source

Onsen source flowing down through the channels in the Yubatake

Shirohata public onsen

 

View from the shrine

On the left side was a footbath and rows of shops in traditional looking housing.

 

在左側有足湯和一排傳統式建築的店面。

Foot bath

Shops around yubatake

From the bottom the main road leads out to the other many community onsens dotted throughout Kusatsu.

 

從下方的主要道路可通到草津特有的無數社區公共溫泉。

Yubatake onsen channels

Yubatake waterfall

To the right was the Netsunoyu where the traditional Yumomi performances was performed (more on that later), and a very well situated 7-11. There were other convenience stores in Kusatsu (there’s a Lawson opposite the bus centre), though in more out the way locations. Between the Netsunoyu and 7-11 leads the main onsen street to Sai no Kawara park and open air onsen.

 

往右是表演傳統湯舞的熱乃湯(之後再細說)還有一個享有天獨厚位置的7-11。草津鎮上還有幾家便利商店(巴士中心對面就有家Lawson),但都偏外圍。在熱乃湯和7-11中間就是通往西之河原公園和露天溫泉的主溫泉街。

 

It was very well laid out, the streets were compact giving a cozy feeling. The constant steam from the onsens whirled and danced in the cold air, ever changing. The Yubatake was a sight to behold and could be viewed from many angles. The onsen street to Sai no Kawara was not long but packed with all kind of interesting shops, sweets, grills, manju (steamed bun), souvenirs, traditional crafts. In comparison Yufuin had way more shops and variety, however because they tended to be more modern and fashionable they lacked a sort of cohesive charm.

 

整個小鎮切分的很好,窄小的街道給人很溫馨的感覺。溫泉散出的蒸氣在冷空氣中飛旋飄蕩,無一刻停住。壯觀的湯畑從各個角度看都給人不同的感覺。到西之河原的溫泉街不長卻塞滿了各式有趣的小店,甜點,碳烤,饅頭,手工藝品。相較之下由布院店家多,種類也更多,但是趨於現代感少了一致性的討喜感。

 

Yufuin’s onsens were also all hidden away in the hotels and ryokans, there were barely any public baths, felt more like a resort than a traditional onsen. In Kusatsu the presence of onsen permeates its every stone and wood.

 

由布院的溫泉也都在飯店旅館內,幾乎沒有公共溫泉,比傳統溫泉來說更像渡假地。在草津,每一石一木都透露著溫泉的存在。

 

It was snowing lightly. The woods and roofs were covered in a thin layer of frost, the weather did nothing to dampen the spirits. The streets were busy, filled with tourists and air of excitement.

 

天飄著薄雪。樹林和屋頂上覆蓋著一層薄霜,即便這樣寒冷的天氣無法澆熄人們的興致。街道滿是觀光客和興奮的氣氛。

 

I went back and up to the bus terminal where the community library was also located. In the library was a section detailing the history of Kusatsu and how onsen is tied to the town’s development.

我走回到巴士中心內的社區圖書館。圖書館內有講解草津的歷史和小鎮溫泉的發展。

Bus center

 

Library, showing the effect of the strong acidic onsen on concrete and metals

Wooden onsen pipe

Then proceeded to walk the length of the onsen street to Sai no Kawara Park, then went fooding on the way back. There was plenty of food to try if I wanted, but I settled on the onsen egg and pudding. One of the manju shop was generous enough to offer every passerby a freshly steamed manju, a cup of green tea, and a welcomed seat inside the shop. That earned them a lot of customers.

 

然後走溫泉主接到西之河原後再沿路邊吃邊走回來。想要的話能吃的很多,不過我只選擇了溫泉蛋和布丁。其中一家饅頭店慷慨的給經過的旅客一人一個饅頭一杯綠茶,還在店內提供座椅。這招吸引了很多顧客。

Onsen street

Shop in onsen street

 

Grilled fish

Cooking onsen egg outside the shop

Pickle shop

Sai no Kawara park

Statue at Sainokawara park

Giant onsen footbath

 

Sai no Kawara park

 

Onsen egg

 

Pudding

Pudding shop

 

Shop selling rice crackers

Onsen street

 

It’s soon time to check in. The front desk was attended by what looked to be a young man from the middle east or southeast asia, who spoke decent enough english, one of the foreign workers that Japan is feverishly recruiting to make tourism more welcoming to foreigners. He handed me a discount voucher to various baths and shops (every accomodation in Kusatsu give out these to guests) a map of the town and recommended some of the onsen baths to me.

 

很快的到了入住的時間。櫃檯後是一個中東或東南亞來的年輕人,講的英文不是太好但足夠了,現在日本觀光產業正積極召集外國員工來提升對外國旅客的服務。他給了我一張溫泉和商店的折價卷(草津的住宿應該都會發這張)還有小鎮的地圖,推薦幾個他覺得不錯的溫泉。

 

He also gave me a bag containing a bottle of juice, a yoghurt and two pieces of bread, what was described as a “light breakfast” so they could qualify as providing breakfast on the booking websites. Would have rather they lopped 500Y off the price and I’d buy what I wanted from the 7-11.

 

他又另外給了我一個塑膠袋,裡頭裝有一瓶果汁,優格和兩個麵包,勉強稱為輕早餐。這樣他們在訂房網上就算符合有提供早餐了。其實我寧可他們房價便宜500Y我自已去7-11買我要的。

 

Futabaya was not what I would consider a proper hotel, instead it had a bed&breakfast feel to it. The room was above average size but decidedly bare bones, there was a desk but no reading lamp, the small fridge and kettle was simply placed on an slightly raised section of the room. (Feels like it used to be a Japanese style room before being converted with a western style bed)

 

對我而言Futabaya算不上真正的旅館,比較像是民宿。房間算大但配備簡單。有張桌子但沒有檯燈,小冰箱和燒水壺就放在房間一個稍微墊高的區域上而以。(有點像原本是和室後來改裝成西式)

 

They did provide two sets of towels, a set of yukata and a handbag for easy carrying. A much appreciated offering. I changed into the yukata and headed out to the onsen.

 

旅館有提供兩套毛巾,一套浴衣還有一個方便攜帶的提袋,這點很體貼。我換過浴衣出門去泡湯。

 

In the lobby there was another group of foreigners checking in. They were thoroughly confused when they saw me in the yukata. Did they have to wear them to go to then onsen? they asked. Only if they wanted to, the young man attending the front desk told them. But it’s much more convenient if you wear them, I added.

Futabaya room

大廳內有另一批外國人正在辦理入住。他們看到我穿浴衣露出困惑的表情。他們去泡湯時也必須那樣穿嗎,他們問。若你們想要的話,櫃檯的年輕人跟他麼說。不過穿浴衣比較方便,我加道。

 

My first stop was the Shirohata no Yu, the one in the main square and also the closest one to the hotel.

 

第一站就是白旗之湯,就在廣場,離旅館也最近。

 

Entry is free, the bath is maintained by the Kusatsu town community. The place was tiny, in the peak season this place had to be packed. In the small rustic wooden building there were barely any divisions between the entrance, the changing area and the bathing area. There was no need for any heaters in the changing space because of the constant steam pouring over from the baths.

 

免費入場,這是草津鎮自己維護的公共溫泉。地方很小,旺季時一定比下餃子還可怕。小小古老的木建築內幾乎沒有任何隔間區分入口,脫衣和泡湯區。脫衣區不需要暖氣,光是不斷從溫泉池滾滾而來的蒸氣就夠了。

 

There were 3 baths, each large enough to maybe sit 5-6 people. There were no showering area, before entering the bath one was expected to fetch water from the baths into a bucket then wipe down the body with a towel (which you must bring yourself). No soaps.

 

有三個池子,每個大概夠坐5-6個人。沒有淋浴區,進入池子前用舀一桶水然後自己用小毛巾把身體擦乾淨(毛巾自己帶)。沒有肥皂。

 

The onsen water was hot. The hottest I had ever experienced. According to the descriptions, because the source water in Kusatsu are so hot, some as high as over 90 degrees, most of the baths also tend to be quite hot. A few minutes was all I could stand at a time before getting out of the water.

 

溫泉水好熱。這是我見識過最熱的溫泉。根據介紹,由於草津的溫泉水湧出溫度超高,有的超過90度,大部分的湯池也偏熱。每次只能在水裡坐上幾分鐘就耐不住需要起來冷卻一下。

 

When I got back to the hotel the staff told me that Shirohata was actually one of the hottest bath around, the map he gave me actually had a hotness rating next to each bath.

 

回去後旅館的人才告訴我白旗是最熱的湯之一,給我的地圖上其實每個溫泉湯龐都有標示熱度。

 

It was nearing nighttime and I head out to get something to eat from the 7-11. There were some food places around, I just got lazy again.

 

After dinner I got out of the yukata. It was getting cold and snowing and there was no hanten provided for warmth.

 

差不多晚上了,我在7-11買了吃的回房間吃。附近有別的食堂餐廳但是我懶得去找了。

 

晚餐後我把浴衣換下。氣溫越來越冷,雪也越下越大,旅館沒有附半纏可穿在浴衣外禦寒。

Dinner, some kind of noodle with soup

One thing that was very different about Kusatsu was how late the shops open. The main onsen street still had saw activity up till about 6pm, the shops around the yubatake area opened till 9pm, there was plenty of time to wander around and visit the shops even if one arrived late in the afternoon. Bus loads of people who stayed at hotels on the outskirts were being dropped off in the square, the illuminated yubatake elicited many impressed sounds from them.

 

草津與其他地方不一樣的一點是他的店開得很晚。溫泉主街到6點前都還人來人往,湯畑周邊的店開到9點,就算是下午比較晚到到也還有很充足的時間悠閒逛街。一車車交通車把住外圍旅館的住客送到溫泉廣場前下車,湯畑在照射燈下不斷引來驚喜的呼聲。

 

The yubatake was a marvelous sight to behold at night. The colours changed every so often, shining through and reflecting off the dancing steam. The whole square was awash in contrasting lights and shadows, almost magical.

 

晚上的湯畑如夢如幻。每一段時間燈光顏色會變換,穿照,反射過飄舞的蒸氣。整個廣場灑滿鮮明的色彩和影子,如闖入了魔法國都。

Yubatake in twilight

Yubatake at night

 

Yubatake at night

 

Yubatake at night

I grabbed a hot coffee from the 7-11 and sat down outside a souvenir shop, beneath its eaves. Watching the light snow flicker in the spotlight against the dark skies, observing the crowd passing by. feeling the cold breeze and the warmth of the coffee.

 

我買了杯7-11咖啡,在一家特產店的屋簷下的椅子坐下。看著雪花映著漆黑的天空在燈光投射下飄閃,看著來去的人們,感受冷風和咖啡的溫。

 

It was a shame it took me this long to come here. And I wished I did not come alone.

 

現在才來真是太可惜了。若有別人一起跟著來就更好了。

 

The Sai no Kawara park was similarly lit up. Here it had an almost ethereal feel, almost would be a little creep if there weren’t the sparse bath goers heading to and from the Sai no Kawara onsen bath.

 

西之河原也同樣有打燈。這裡的感覺有點虛幻,若不是有零星來往露天溫泉的泡湯客,可能還會有點詭異。

Sainokawara at night

Sainokawara at night

They might have chose this presentation because of the legends of the onis (demons). It was said that the sounds of the bubbling hot springs were mistaken to be the sound of oni playing sumo wrestling.

 

會有這樣的設計可能跟在地的惡鬼傳說有關吧。傳說溫泉冒出泡泡的聲響被人們誤以為是惡鬼在玩相撲。

 

There was a small flight of steps that led to a path on top of the ridge going to the other side of the park. At this time of day there were no one else on the trail, it was covered in snow and I left a clear trail of foot prints. The paths was lit by a line of lights that were broken at intervals. The story of the snow witch from the Kendaichi manga for some reason flooded the mind, in which people stranded in a snow storm were brutally hacked to bits by a machete wielding snow demon.

 

公園中有一小段階梯連結山脊上的一條小徑,通往公園另一頭。這時間小徑上空無一人,白雪覆蓋的路徑上只有我走過留下清楚的腳印。小徑由中途壞了幾處的一串小燈照明。金田一漫畫裡的故事情節不知為何湧入腦海,被暴風雪困住的人們被持柴刀的雪女一一剁成肉塊。

The desolate trail

I decided to turn back. There might be bears about. Definitely not because of the possibility of snow demons.

 

我決定還是回頭好了。有可能會有熊出沒。可不是因為什麼雪女的。

Saino kawaraat night

Sainokawara at night

My camera’s battery was almost flat at this point, the shops in the square was also closing up. The last of the tourists were getting on the last shuttle buses to go back to their hotels. I decide to also call it a day.

 

我的相機電池已經閃紅線了,廣場的店家也準備打烊了。最後一批旅客也正排隊上車回去旅館,我也就此結束這一天。

 

Yubatake at night