Monday, September 10, 2007

Things I want to blog about

I decided to move my blog target list on line. The reason I am doing this is because some people might have some comments on places I want to write about.

Oze - will go there some time before winter
Nikko - still trying to decide if the pics I have are enough or whether I need to go back and get better pictures
Hinoemata - Need to go back and get better pics
Nikko National Park - better do this before winter, climb that mountain by the lake.
Nikko boat trip down the river - at least I know its near Nikko!
Bato - didn't even take any pictures last time
Getting to Nasushiobara from Narita - for my visitors, companies visitors
Tochigi overview - this is important I think. Especially some nice maps which I will probably have to make.
Tochigi events - this is going to be a lot of work to maintain, good starts for resources for this are the nasu concert hall site (in mangled google translator english) and the Motegi Twin Ring Site, it would be cool if I could find a way to access an utsonomiya live music scene calendar. Would love to get in some jazz from time to time.
Ashikaga - vineyard before winter, wisteria/flower park next spring I guess
Onsens - this is a winter activity
Mito - spring for Ume flowering (or do I have enough good pics already?)
Sano outlet mall - Ugh, but it must be in my blog I think.
Mashiko - might wait for a visitor before revisiting
Nasu mountain - before winter
Nasu area attractions - before winter
Shiobara - onsen weekend
Favorite mountain walk - better actually get to the final peak and find out what its called
more walks - do some more walks from our book
Watanabe farms - damn I hope I can find some good pics. wife will kill me if I ask to go back to this very expensive restaurant
Utsunomiya
Narita - temple, street and that great pizza shop
Drivers license advice - based on the thoroughly unpleasant experience I suspect I am about to have.
The tochigi/neighbouring prefecture shared shrine (better find out the name!)
Community center language lessons
local soba shop
hole in the wall soba shop - do this soon, its a classic!
good restaurant near tachizaki san's place
Local parks - especially the big one
Bato art gallery
Sano outlets
Nasushiobara local guide
Rubbish disposal
Electronics stores
Haircut
Curtain shop

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Tochigi's very own Mt. Fuji

Map Location

Up in the Shiobara area there is a mountain called Mt. Fuji. Its nothing like the Mt. Fuji we all know. Its a nice walk, but frankly, I'd recommend Numappara or Nasu or our favorite Yaita walk (not written about yet) before Mt. Fuji. Though it might be very beautiful in autumn I think. We'll be back then to check.

07_09_shiobara_onsen008
Its a fairly short walk which you can start from the nearby hot spring village or you can drive through the village and turn left just before the vegetable stands and park at the parking area. Or you can continue a bit further, turn right again and park at the much larger marshland parking area. I've tried to size the Map Location
so you can see the town and all the roads. The walk around the lake was not possible due to typhoon flooding, but that looks very good for autumn.

07_09_shiobara_onsen014
The walk itself is a couple of hours if you walk right around the mountain. Its green and beautiful. No matter where you start you will walk by town and there is a short side trip to see the marshes. There are a couple of short steep bits but its an easy walk overall. You walk past an area where the volcanic gasses are coming up from the ground. It smells sulphurous.

I'll write about our stay at the hot spring hotel in a separate post.

More Photos

Port Forwarding on YahooBB Modem

A technical article about configuring your YahooBB modem for port forwarding. This blog is certainly not intended to be a technical blog and I am not the best qualified person to write such a thing. But I wish I had found this article before I set out to forward a port from my router to one of my PCs. So it might be useful to somebody else.

I wish I had recorded my entire experience of setting up an Internet connection. But that was in the days before I considered writing a blog. Here is a handy site about YahooBB and getting it set up.

This article is about how to forward a port on your YahooBB router. This article is also not about port forwarding. There are lots of resources and people who can advise on this subject much better than me. So the preliminary section should be regarded as a rough guide written by a novice.

Finally, please note, lots of modern applications don't require port forwarding. Network applications we use at home: Skype, Messenger and Guildwars don't require port forwarding.

Preliminary:
Some network applications would like to contact an application on your PC directly <list>. When they send a message to your router it won't know which PC on the network to send that message to. This happens even if there is only one PC on the network. This is frequently a security benefit because it means your PC is not exposed to uninvited incoming communication. This can also be a problem if you want that inbound communication to arrive at your PC.

To allow this communication you can enable port forwarding on your router. Basically this tells the router "when you get an incoming communication on port xxx, forward it to this PC". Don't do this unless you have a good idea what you are doing. A router is an effective security measure and "putting holes in it" is creating security risks. Certainly don't open more ports than you need to and it might well pay to do a bit of a search to see if the application that will be listening on that port has any security issues that should be considered. Also don't forget the target PC should have a static IP address.

My 4-G BB Modem

Redirecting the Port:
So once you know the port you want to forward and the static (fixed) IP address of the computer you want to forward it to you are ready to get started.

My router is a BB Modem 4-G (I know this works for some other models too. Visit the configuration page of your router by opening your browser and going to 172.16.255.254. If that doesn't work then either you are not properly connected to the router or things have changed and your router configuration page is not at that address anymore.

You should be prompted for a username and password. On my router they are "user" and "user". If that doesn't work then things have changed and those are not the username and password anymore.

Click on this button:


Click on this menu item:


Now enter the port range you want to forward. If you only want to enter one port then just enter to and from that port number. Then enter the port number you want to map those ports too (in most cases the same entry as the port range above). Then enter the IP address of the PC you want to forward those ports to. Once you are done go to the bottom of the page and click on "OK".

The procedure might be slightly different depending on the router that you have. But this works for me and has worked for others too.

I'll try to answer any technical questions that pop up here but you might also try the above link to get more minds working on any problems that you might have.

Shiobara Waterfall - Tochigi

Map Link

The drive from Nasushiobara up to Shiobara and beyond is very beautiful. There is much to explore up there and we have only scratched the surface. Expect quite a few posts about this area coming soon.



Unfortunately the typhoon hit the area pretty hard. I have no idea if the rice (much of which is lying down now) will recover. There is lots of water in the river so it made the drive up the valley even better than usual.


The waterfall is a short walk starting from the side of the road and following a beautiful little tributary to the main river. Its just a short walk, maybe half an hour. I bet its even better in the wet season (July).





Carpark Sign.

The carpark also marked on the Map Link is a bit up the hill from the falls. Here is the sign to look out for.

Further up the road are lots of well regarded hot spring hotels. Much further is Hinoemata and Oze (which we will be writing about soon).

More waterfall pictures

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tōrō Nagashi - Otawara, Tochigi

Map Location


We went to the Otawara Summer Fireworks display. This was held during the Obon Festival summer holidays (August 16 in 2007). While we were waiting for the fireworks to start something much more interesting happened.


At the end of the Obon festival there is a tradition to light lanterns and set them afloat on the river. Its done all over Japan and even overseas. In the Otawara ceremony they floated hundreds of lanterns on the river just as it was getting dark. It was beautiful.


Our neighbour called it Syou Rou Nagasi, but the only reference I could find to it on the internet called it Tooroo Nagashi. As near as I can tell its about releasing the spirits of the dead.

I want to make this site practical and I realize this post doesn't help anybody to attend such an event. For this and the fireworks post, I can only suggest as Obon approaches ask a Japanese friend to find out when and where this event is on.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sandogoya Onsen - Nasu, Tochigi

Map Link


Sandogoya Onsen in the Nasu area, Tochigi, is a hotel/onsen nearly two hours walk from the nearest road access. You can stay the night there, enjoy the hotspring and have a nice meal. This is a great overnight activity.


You can walk in from Numappara or from Nasu. Its not a hard walk but it takes a little time. We walked in and out via Nasu in very early September. It took us about 1 1/2 hours of pretty easy walking though there are some fairly steep bits. It looks like it might be a slightly shorter walk from Numappara.

We parked our car in Nasu and walked in. There is a log book there which I suggest you fill in on the way in and out, though we didn't notice it and failed to fill it in. Along the way there is a nice little fresh water stream which is marked drinking water and we filled our bottles there.


On the walk out in the morning we saw the best sea of clouds I have ever seen.

Sandogoya Onsen has a few little hotels and a public onsen (I have since heard there is no longer onsen access for people not staying there, will check this). Its really understated and nicely done. I immediately felt relaxed there. The people at our hotel could speak just a little English. They were very friendly and helpful. The cost was 9000 yen each for the two of us. We were charged 18200 at the end. Not sure what the 200 yen was for. For that price we got a nice dinner an OK breakfast and unlimited use of the onsen. There was a free pot of tea in the evening and in the morning. Our evening beers were 500 yen each.



The main hotel onsen is open one hour for men and one hour for women alternating through the day. There is a second much smaller one (3 people max!) that you can go to if the main one is off limits to you that hour.

Our room was a small simple tatami room. There were mattresses and bed linen and robes. We had each carried in a small towel for the onsen.

I would think, especially if you were from Tokyo it would be a sensational get away from it all weekend. My favorite Tochigi activity so far.

More photos

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Nasu Steakhouse, Nasu, Tochigi

Map Location

This is our favourite steakhouse in the area. Until we work out the real name it will have to remain Nasu steakhouse.

Its a good place to have a special lunch on a trip to Nasu.

As far as we can tell the only choice is steak here. The cheapest one is 3000 yen. The most expensive is up in the 20,000 yen range I think (its Otawara beef). We have had the 3000 yen one and more recently the 5000 yen one. I remember thinking the 3000 yen one wasn't a "real steak". The 5000 yen one felt like a "steak" but maybe we have just been in Japan for too long now.

Anyway, the food is great. You get a set meal which includes a tiny plate of roast pork, a bowl of consome soup, a salad, the steak, rice cooked in the steak skillet, ice cream and a coffee. Its all very good. In the 6 months between visits the menu hadn't changed that we noticed. We were asked not to take photos of the food so won't show food shots here. Photos of us eating are OK though, this is Roast Pork.


The dining area is quite small (though they told us there was a second room). So you order in a small waiting room, move to the dining room as the first course is about to arrive and are moved to another room to drink your coffee. But the atmosphere is very nice and they don't hurry you at all.

The service is very friendly

We like this restaurant.