A year ago today I started training in Okayama in preparation for my current life. It's a little surreal to think that I have been here a year, but it also doesn't seem like I've been here that long either.
This last weekend was a 3 day weekend for me because Tuesday was the Fall Equinox and a national holiday, so I ended up in Aomori visiting one of my friends who is also teaching in Japan. It's the first time I've seen him in over a year. Even though we live close together our schedules often conflict, so it's pretty hard to get together other then long national holiday weeks. I had to go to the end of the shinkansen line in main land Japan to see him. There are no shinkansen stops after Hachinohe, but you can take the Aomori line up to Hokkaido from here. The Hachinohe station is all sparkling new and has a barrier between the shinkansen and the platform that is much more high-tech then any other shinkansen stops I've been in. After getting in late on Saturday we both hit the hay rather early.
Sunday morning we left his place by 10:45am
and started out for Towadako. There is a legend that connects Towadako with Tazawako in Akita that is rather unusual and strange. There was a Princess who thought she would become more beautiful if she drank the local water of a pond. The gods became angry with her and because of her vanity they turned her into a dragon. The metamorphosis was so strong it tore the land and created Tazawako. The same happened to a man and his metamorphosis created Towadako. One day the male dragon spotted the female dragon and fell in love with her. It is said that their passionate love making keeps Tazawako from freezing in the winter.
Towadako isn't as touristy as Tazawako is and it's rather peaceful this time of year. There weren't many other tourists out but the weather was rather cool and good for a jaunt in changing leaves. We ended up doing a small walk around the tourists shops after lunch and before getting into the swan paddle boats. These giant swans are in every major lake in Japan and they are a little expensive but ridiculous amounts of fun. It ended up taking us 10 minutes to figure out
how to steer it. As we were going in circles out in the water one of the dock workers was laughing his butt off at us; which just made me laugh even harder at our predicament. After we finally got ourselves straightened out we went for a light paddle around the shore. Then it took us about 10 minutes to get back to the dock, evading other swans in the lake at the same time, and back into the dock.
After our paddling fun we went on an adventure to find...the Grave of Christ. Thats right, in Aomori you too can see the Grave of Christ and learn the small story of how he escaped the from Israel and ended up dying in Aomori at the age of 106. The spot itself is in this rather small village that is only accessible by car. We ended up searching for it a little, but there were white signs in English to were pointing the way. The Japanese government knows who is really going to be coming up here to see the Grave of Christ. There is a small church and two burial mounds, one for Christ, and the other for
his brother who took his place on the cross. Another rather attractive part of this place were the large cutouts that you could stick our head in. Ridwan and I were a baby and a man respectively. We hardly spoke above a whisper the whole time we were there because we were afraid that somebody would come out and speak to us. Our car was the only car in the parking lot, but it was a Sunday so who knew if anybody was actually there waiting to pounce on us!
After laughing ourselves silly at the Grave of Christ we headed back to wonder around Hachinohe for a while. Ridwan took us to this great restaurant that served only Aomori chickens, which are suppose to be free range chickens at that for some really good yakitori, grilled chicken on a stick, and then I was on the train down to Sendai.
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