Living in Japan is definitely an interesting experience, I`ve been to many places and plan to go to loads more during my stay here.
I`m going to use this blog to introduce a few `unknown` areas of Japan that I have been too, the area is called Tohoku. I will talk about a couple other popular places too, they`re all pretty cool, however my home prefecture (Iwate) was hit pretty terribly by the Tsunami in 2011 so many areas are still under reconstruction, others have been totally wiped off the map.
More recently we were hit by a pretty intense Typhoon (last August); most of the damaged areas are still doing major clean-up operations. You realize quickly that the people here are super enduring.
So I’m totally gunna do some shameless promoting. Not many foreigners visit here, I thought being a foreigner here would be difficult but it`s pretty great. Everyone wants to talk with you, you might be invited for tea by some super adorable little old Japanese couple or end up at crazy events (both of these have happened, one in the mountains of Kamaishi (iwate) and one in Osaka... i`ll let you decide which was which).
Tsuru no Yu Onsen
This was the highlight of the trip, visiting a 16th century Onsen in the mountains of Akita. Even though it was the end of March the snow here was still 6ft deep and most of the roads had been cut into the snow, it was pretty spectacular!
We left for Akita quite early in the morning. We had been told to arrive by 10.30am at the station. The Onsen is far up in the mountains, near lake Tazawako, so we had to take 2 buses – a local and a shuttle bus.
There was snow everywhere, the higher we went, the deeper it became. On arrival we sat in a beautiful tatami room, closed off from the public, where we could relax and drink tea.
We then spent an hour in the indoor bath before being shown to our 8 tatami room. It looked over the entire Onsen.
After dinner we rested, then went out to use the Onsen until 10.30pm. It started to snow, and there was even thunder and lighting, it was so beautiful however.
The next day, before getting the train home, we decided to get off at Lake Tazawako for an hour. It’s the deepest lake in Japan, with a depth of 423.4m, and crystal blue waters that are surrounded by snow covered mountains. The story is that a young woman who was seeking eternal beauty drank from a nearby spring and turned into a Dragon, leaving behind her family to live in the Lake.
It was pretty chilly so we enjoyed from Udon Tempura and treated myself to a Namahage t-shirt. I would really like to come back here in the summer to take a boat out onto the lake, it’s actually not that far away by Shinkansen so hopefully I will find some time to do that.