04 May 2007

A well-needed rest!

A well-needed rest!
Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
We've been hanging out at our friends' cabin up in the mountains near Nagano (Remember the winter Olympics?) on Lake Nojiri. It's been so great to just sit around reading, talking and cooking and eating some great food and wine. We are all foodies (What are the chances, I ask you?) and so it has been great dreaming up menus for the evening in our morning hangover hours, going shopping for ingredients, taking turns being the chefs du jour or on cleanup and then tucking in.

Yesterday we ate lunch in a lovely Italian place down by the lake and then went to looking for an onsen (hotbaths) for an afternoon scrub and soak.

This area is really interesting. It's a somewhat communal community that was started as holiday cabins in the early 20's by missionaries. These days it's a mix of foreign families and mixed foreign-Japanese families, missionaries, academics, etc. etc.. The people are very interesting. They all belong to an association and have to volunteer for something from time to time. It's quite cheap to buy a cabin up here, but you have to rent for a while first to make sure that you are aligned with the ethos of the community. Any changing of cabins or flora or fauna has to go through the committee first, which has generally been successful in preserving the natural beauty and "wildness" of the area. It's a real "get away from it all" place from hectic life in Japan.