(English follows) 寒くなってきました･･･恵那・中津川を含め、この辺りは雪はあまり降らないのですが、寒さは厳しいですね。
Winter a calm season ?
For our guesthouse, yes it is very calm ! Business is particularly low fro, November to early March. And I think most tourists miss the point : you get the nice colors of the autumn from the late November and the best weather. Leaves become red, weather becomes drier and fresher, but days are still sunny. Very different from our cloudy, rainy and windy autumn and winter of the Rhone Valley in France !
Things to do and to eat
Now December is here in the Kiso Valley, temperatures go below 0 Celsius when we wake up, but it is still bearable and not very cold during day time. Perfect for the short trek between Tsumago and Magome, or the long one on the Nakasendo from Ena to Magome (about 7 hours in this version from Ichikawa ryokan, our partner and friend). Then you can enjoy the Japanese popular dishes during winter : nabe (a kind of Japanese fondue), oden (light stew with several ingredients) , nikujaga (potatoes and meat stew in a sweetened soy sauce), tonjiru (soup made of miso, potatoes, carrots, burdocks, pork) and various fresh grilled fishes, best time for enjoying them according the specialists of Tsukiji market .
Events and other special traditions
That is also the best period to try the new harvested rice of October as the rice for sake is harvested in September. Very mild ! Later in February, early March, it will be time to try out the new brewed sake during the kurabiraki ! A very popular event when the brewery is opened to taste out, at will, the different sakes for really cheap.
As you can see also in the pictures above Japanese in our countryside of Iwamura, it is also the period for renovating the old straw roof of Kaya no Yado. This farmer house, the last vestige of the traditional farmer houses around here in Ena, Gifu, got his roof changed this year. The roof is completely renovated each 50 years.
Only rooting or leaking part are changed time to time. The heat insulation is very nice, but it is also free of pests due to the smoke of the irori that prevents molding, pests and insects damages. The thatched roof also manages the humidity inside the house, as does the clay walls.
We were surprised that the craftsmen were young, it seems a popular professional retraining as still villages (near Kyoto or near Takayama, Shirakawa-go for examples) have still thatched roof like this.
The second picture is about the illumination of the place close to our Guesthouse Tomida in Iwamura. The local association each year organizes illumination in the beginning of December. It is a kind of Christmas spirit ! There are illuminations through all Japan at this period, despite power shortages.
Here they try to collect some money through donations for the kids and the maintenance of the scenery. You can enjoy typical demise food (Japanese street food like taiyaki, yakitori, takoyaki …). This year there was a jazzy triplet and a very funny acrobat ! The hot tonjiru, served for free, was really welcome.
Precision about our business
And we precise one thing for those who check our place in Iwamura village : as most of the businesses, we are not supported by any kind of subventions but Yanagiya is – more than 300000 dollars and the place dates back from 2015, not from 100 years ago (the old house was very different and really in a bad shape) as stated in some sites. So we cannot sincerely offer the same kind of thing, sorry ! It was, we think a good precision, as some guests sometimes ask about it.
Besides our guesthouse we also want to help other owners to attract foreign visitors, so as you can see with the link to Ichikawa ryoukan, we create a new listing. We offer them our support online, especially to answer question in English or French and give a first guidance. So be sure each place listed with Booking Helper is a real, verified and good local address with nice hosts (only east part of Gifu) !