Yatsugatake walk vol.7

a perfect guide of Yatsugatake area for tourists

“I often spend about 2 hours, staring at an oak tree in my garden."
Ms. Ryoko Moriyama’s time in Yatsugatake (P.4-5)

Ms. Moriyama has enjoyed her time in Yatsugatake to the fullest since she built a mountain house in Kobuchisawa town 13 years ago. How does she, who has always been actively engaged in the music industry, spend her time here?


Just the right distance to get away

My cousins were the ones who connected   Kobuchisawa and myself. They moved to this town after retiring. As we had helped each other for a long time, the thought of them going far away made me miss them. So, I said to them, “If you can’t come over to Tokyo anymore, I come to you!” and built a house right next to theirs. That was about 13 years ago. Actually, there is an expressway entrance near my house in Tokyo. And, from there it is just going straight following the Chuo expressway, right? Since my house is near to where I get off at Kobuchisawa, it’s hardly any troublesome to get here. That’s why I often drive by myself to get here. After driving for 45 minutes, all my thoughts about work start to disappear from my mind. As you know, my life in Tokyo always revolves around work. Also, I worry about my family and think about little things like “what are they going to eat today?” Kobuchisawa is just in the right distance for me to gradually forget about those daily matters. While driving on the expressway, I see mountains, feel greenery close by, and find different images from season to season.  

After getting off from the expressway, and  arriving at my mountain house, I always go “pheeew!” (showing the gesture of relaxing her whole body). It is a “sense of relief”,  one very different from what I feel when I come back home in Tokyo after work. Its a feeling of "escaping (laugh).” In normal daily life I am always thinking about something. “At what time shall I do this tomorrow, and that as well?” I always feel like I’m pressed for time. But the moment I start driving towards here, those busy thoughts gradually disappear. Things happening in Tokyo now belong to “another world.” My mind gets refreshed…

I always spend time in Kobuchizawa absent-mindedly, especially when I'm alone. Behind my house, there is a bridle path starting from a riding ground nearby and which continues into the woods. I usually walk the way through the forest for about an hour. As soon as I arrive at Kobuchisawa, I call out, "Going out!" and go for a walk. Walking among the trees, I often encounter deer; we then quietly give way to each other. One day, when I was taking a walk, I heard an unfamiliar rustling sound. Turning back to see where the sound came from, I found a group of about 8 deer there. I was very surprised, but they seemed to have frozen in surprise too. I stayed quiet for a while, thinking “I am alright, so please go ahead.” Then they turned around and left as if they were telling each other, “alright everybody, let’s go.” I was relieved because even though I knew they are gentle animals, it was still a little scary to see a group of them so close up. But looking back on it now, it’s a good memory.

Deer often come into my garden as well as pheasants, raccoon dogs and foxes. This is one of the benefits of living here. It is impossible to have nature close by when you live in a big city. The colors of trees and mountains change every day because of the changing sunlight. During winter or during a warm period, it always looks different.
I think such experiences are valuable because you can only feel those changes when you are in nature.

In my backyard, there is a big oak tree. I feel that it gives me various things. Also, I get the sense that there are "shorei (spirits) present in the tree."
I sometimes look at the tree until next morning―it stands under a purplish sky when the stars gradually disappear and a ray of morning sunlight is about to shine through the clouds. The tree changes into different colors. I often spend 2-3 hours, looking at the tree in a relaxed and absent-minded manner. Whenever I come over here, this place seems to give me an emotional leeway to look at a tree for a long time. A sky when dawn is approaching is so beautiful and mysterious, and although I have tried several times to catch it with my smartphone camera, it is impossible to reproduce it.

I feel that I too have to treasure this land

The tree looks different depending on the season: its leaves grow thickly in one season but wither in another. Now the trunk is so thick that I can’t put my arms around it anymore, but it is still beautiful to see it covered with ivy. It is nice to look at it close up, but I also love having a view of it from a distance. From the beginning, I decided to build my house here because I wanted to live near the oak tree. I even ordered wide windows so that I can have a good view of the tree. If you turn your eyes to the mountains from this house’s living room, you can see the big oak tree under the mountainous scenery.

I go to supermarkets as I often have a barbecue. HIMAWARI supermarket is my favorite, so I buy various kinds of stuff there! I go for a drive to Nobeyama or Kiyosato, or I just stay at home enjoying cooking... One of my friends from elementary school lives in Oizumi town and I enjoy meeting with her as well. The children often go skiing.

The area in which I built my house is where originally many settlers used to live. I once heard a story from an elderly woman, who lives close by. She told me that “it was truly exhausting” to cultivate copse here. When she told me that it had been very tough because they really had to start from scratch I became all teary despite myself. This land has always protected me, so I feel that I too have to continue to treasure this land.

When I head for Tokyo after leaving Kobuchisawa, my brain’s ‘gear shifts’ change  into a different mode and tell me “Going back” Ten minutes after getting on the expressway, my mind already starts to be directed to there. For me, “there” means the world of my work, in which I stay mindful of presenting beautiful songs to my listeners. I am happy and grateful that such a world continues to exist for me.

Every concert is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion for me, so I don’t want to waste any single moment. I have a strong wish for my audience to enjoy listening to my songs, and give them a precious time.


Ms. Moriyama cherishes each phrase when singing her lyrics. Her songs are so sensitive that they seem to permeate even into every nerve of the listener's fingertips. Probably the time she spends here to soothe her mind is passed on to her songs. First of all, make your mind blank in the rich nature of Yatsugatake and the Southern Alps…
Then, listening to her songs while being in that state of mind would be the best way to appreciate them.

Ryoko Moriyama
In 1967, she made her debut with the song “Kono hiroi nohara ippai”. This was followed by a number of hit songs such as the million-seller “Kinjirareta Koi”, “Nada soso”, “Satoukibi batake”, and “Anata ga sukide”. Eventually, she became one of Japan’s top singers, both in name and reality, with her pure singing voice and great vocals. While proceeding with her career as a singer, she also hosts a radio show “All night Nippon MUSIC10” at Nippon Broadcasting System. Her lively talk at the show earned her great popularity.