Kashiwa Tourism Production: Lake Teganuma Surroundings Walking Tour
We love this city
Joining the Kashiwa Tourism Production(＊1) on a walking tour around Kashiwa’s Lake Teganuma and its cultural and natural attractions. Kashiwa has a lot of spots to offer if you just want some relief from the stress of everyday life in the city. A lot of quiet places where nature surrounds you, small uphill alleys with old Japanese houses. Exploring the area alone, you will feel like a Ronin traveling the lands, joining the Kashiwa Tourism Production team this time, I learned a lot about the history and hidden treasures of the area. A perfect opportunity to meet people who are absolutely passionate about their hometown Kashiwa.
Behind the mist
Gathering in the morning at 9 am at "Michi no Eki Shonan"(*2), the sky grey and cloudy, I was afraid we would have to walk through pouring rain for the whole 3-hour tour. Of course, my organization skills are amazing, that I just had a thin long sleeved shirt and obviously nothing to protect me against rain. In the end, it was windy and fresh during the trip, but luckily not one single drop of rain. Basically perfect conditions, not too hot not too cold. I must be a lucky guy.
Go all the way
The tour itself had us walk the whole circle, from Lake Teganuma to the surrounding attraction- quite forests and paddy fields, old temples with long histories, and beautiful traditional Japanese houses- back to the lakeside. The tour was guided by Mr. Takano, a walking textbook of knowledge about Kashiwa City. You can ask him anything about the city and he could probably entertain you for hours with his stories.
With an experienced guide like that, even people like me, someone with absolutely no sense of direction, can relax and just absorb the beauty and spirit-raising power of nature.
Especially beautiful are the traditional structures, like the many old long gates (“nagayamon”) during the tour, making me feel as if I traveled back through time and space.
Not just seeing the beautiful nature and culture, also having the chance to meet kind-hearted people. I always had a partner to chat with, and I think it is a good opportunity to even make some new potential friends.
If you are alone in Japan or with your friend or partner, participating in one of these events creates a fantastic opportunity to get in touch with locals, who know about and love their hometown.
Ever heard about the three wise monkeys? In Japanese, they are called Mizaru (see no evil), Kikazaru (hear no evil) and Iwazaru (speak no evil), and can be found chiseled in stone at many shrines. Apparently, you can judge the age of a structure based on the monkey's directions. If they look straight forward, according to Mr. Takano, that means a shrine is very old.
At other locations, you can also find stunning dragons carved in wood. Like in the picture below, one dragon climbs down, the other one up. But, "which one goes into what direction?", Mr. Takano asked out of the blue.
“The one on the left goes up, the one on the right, goes down”, I answered correctly. Got lucky again, I guess. The dragons move into the direction of their heads. The left one looks up and goes up, the right one down looks down and goes down.
Simple knowledge like this make strolling around much more interesting. Looking a little bit behind the curtains, everything in this world runs deep. Like in a theater all we see is the show on stage, but we do not know what is going on backstage until we take a look. This way, we can find something interesting in seemingly ordinary activities.
Someya Family Residence
The main attraction of the tour was the "Someya Family Residence"(*3). Normally not open to the public to step inside the courtyard, our guide organized for the whole group to enter the residence’s ground and explore the wonderful garden.
Standing on the grass, you can basically feel the long history and tradition surrounding this place.“The water here tastes amazing!” Mr. Takano says, pointing at the garden’s old well.The water is still safe to drink, and according to many accounts, tea made from the well water is delicious (no opportunity to try it sadly).
After the Someya family residence we went on to see some more shrines, talked to a Buddhist monk and got to know even more about the area.
Eventually, the tour brought us back to Lake Teganuma. Just standing at the lakeside, looking over the quiet water and taking in some deep breaths makes my heart and soul relax.
The tour ended shortly after. Some people went straight back, some stayed around Lake Teganuma for a quick chat, or just for relaxation.
After all the walking, I got hungry, so I made my way to the closest convenience store. Walking, learning, and fraternizing, joining Kashiwa Tourism Production on a tour has it all. Why not give it a shot?
If you are interested in more, please take a look at the following information:
＊1 Kashiwa Tourism Production(kashiwa-tourism.jp (Japanese Only)):Established in 2016 as an NPO, they offer opportunities to discover Kashiwa's hidden attractions and to experience special moments, one can only find in this city. They offer walking tours open for everyone, and special tours for exchange students, try Japanese culture hands-on.
＊2 Michi no Eki Shounan(www.michinoeki-shonan.jp (Japanese Only))
＊3 染谷家住宅(www.city.kashiwa.lg.jp (Japanese Only)):The Someya Family Residence with its 8 registered cultural properties offers an authentic look into the past between the Edo- and the Meiji-period.