I was born and raised in Japan. My parents had a cabin at the International Village on Lake Nojiri so we came to Shinanomachi every summer and winter. I first moved to the town four years ago after graduating from college in the United States. I majored in marine biology there and now help out at the Nagano prefectural research center while working as a nature guide. As a child I learned to ski in Kurohime Kogen and fished Lake Nojiri in the summer.
During summers I work as a climbing guide and teach canoeing and kayaking. In the winter I work as a backcountry ski and snowshoe guide in Kurohime Kogen, Madarao Kogen, and Myoko Kogen. There are a lot of visitors from overseas in the winter but in the summer it’s about a half-and-half split between domestic and overseas. These activities are all things I’ve enjoyed doing since I was a boy, and then in college I trained and got certified as a guide. I also like to pick wild greens and often take visitors into the mountains to do so. Shinanomachi still has beautiful rural scenery and draws a lot of visitors from overseas who want to enjoy a sense of the real Japan.
I like to climb Mt. Madarao from the Sugakawa area; the view of Mt. Kurohime and Lake Nojiri from the peak is fantastic, especially in the evening as the sun falls behind the mountain. When I go out kayaking in the morning on Lake Nojiri, the way the rising sun reddens the mountains is also very beautiful. In the winter the morning sun brings a hint of pink to the snow in the mountains. I often go to Naena Falls between Shinanomachi and Myoko, too. The foliage there in the autumn is fantastic and brilliantly colored.
I became a nature guide because I really love the outdoors and wanted to share it with all sorts of people. Shinanomachi really has an amazing natural environment. A lot of old-fashioned rural Japanese scenery can still be found, too, like old houses and shrines and temples. The location is good, too. There are mountains to climb, the ocean is easy to get to, the city of Nagano is close by—you can get anywhere pretty easily. Shinanomachi is right at the center of it all, and I hope you’ll come and enjoy the town’s simple pleasures!