The Deepest Lake, Tazawako

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December 4th 2007
Published: December 5th 2007
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My weekend started bright and early on Sunday; which really means before the sun was up. My co had gotten the earliest tickets to Tazawako, so we were out of Sendai by 6:37am. Lake Tawazako is the deepest lake in Japan. Legend goes that Princess Tatsuko and a dragon god fell in love and their passionate love making is what keeps the lake from freezing over in the coldest of temperatures. The tourist information center had nothing but good things to say about this and were very helpful in getting the bus schedule and everything to us. My co and I ended up at the Tazawako station at 8:30am and without further ado we set out to a little exploration hiking. Yes, we did this with our packs on. It being a Sunday and everything, there was almost no action going on around the town. We started out towards the surrounding mountains.

We found a small path that lead us to the Obonai Park; which is one of the funnest places I have seen yet. We abandoned our packs at the base of the stair master that awaited us, or the stairs leading to the park. It had some awesome park gear and some nice walking paths up to the top of a hill that had some great views of the town and, of course, a shrine. The shrine was a great place to take pictures with the torii gates and to get an amazing view of Tazawako. On our way down we stumbled across a temple that was in the midsts of being built and then set out to the station to catch our bus to out hostel. Out hostel was this amazingly huge place right by the lake. We were allowed to leave our packs in the waiting area while we went out and walked around and find some lunch. My first views of Tazawako were amazing. The lake in almost 20 miles in diameter and around surrounded by hills and slight mountains. The water is this intense shade of green and could not have been prettier. The funniest part was the lake paddle boats that were left sitting in the sand. Giant swans, cars, airplanes, and dragons were sitting in straight lines along the walk way, waiting in silence for the spring and summer months to come.

My co and I headed out to OREA for lunch. It's got some amazing views of the lake and some great microbrews. Afterwards we headed back to the hostel and waited for the bus to come and take us to the Nyuto Onsen. Nyuto Onsen is a small grouping of natural hot springs deep in the mountains. The bus ride up was a little long, 40 minutes and by the time we got up to the top it was snowing heavily, and my co and I found ourselves at the end of the line and headed down to the onsen that would pick you up from the bus with an umbrella to keep the snow off you. It was the most amazing place. For 700 yen you wash and then sit in hot mineral baths for as long as you want. Absolutely amazing. Our onsen was an rotenburo, or outdoor bath so sat around the inner bath for a bit and then moved outside and found ourselves being snowed on while enjoying a roaring stream. The view was straight out of a wookblock print. Absolutely spectacular. The fun part of the onsen was finding out that it was a mixed sex rotenburo. Yes, I sat in a towel and chatted with a business man sitting next to me in the same bath as me.

Dinner was at 6pm at the hostel so my co and I waited for the bus and rode back in the dark and rain to the most amazing dinner. We were served traditional Akita soup, Kiritampo, our own yakiniku burner, and some of the most amazing fish I have ever eaten. One of the best meals I have ever had in my life and yes, I got a photo of the finner before I ate it. After dinner we settled into our room and read for a couple of hours before I fell asleep at 9:30pm.

Breakfast on Monday was bright and early at 7:30am and was very delicious and nutritious. We woke up to a heavy snow that had covered the ground and trees over night. We settled back into our room to enjoy the heating unit before going out into the snow to hike around the lake and find the statue of Tatsuko. Now here is the funny part of out day. My co, who had been to Tazawa before, said we should walk to the statue and then catch the loop bus to see the O-Torri and then catch a bus into town and wait for our shinkansen to come. So off we set for the statue until natures call came up and I had to make good use of the woods by a park. When I looked up I saw the highway sign proudly stating that the statue was 9km away. Thats 5 miles from where we were standing. We decided to be brave and walk to the statue and catch the bus. There wasn't going to be much else for us to do until our shinkansen @ 6pm anyway.

So we walked and walked and almost stopped and turned back or would find one of the bus stops and think about waiting in the snow for it to come pick up us. On our walk we found a lot of parks, some construction work, and an abandoned tradition thatched farmhouse. It was finally getting close to noon and that was when the loop bus would arrive at the statue and we were still a decent distance from the statue. So we waited for about 5 minutes at the random bus stop we found and caught the bus for the rest of the way around the lake. We grabbed lunch at a restaurant and dried our soaking shoes, socks, and jeans by one of the heaters. We were steaming from all the water that was drying off us. We caught the bus back to the station and waited around and read in a small cafe, named People, and chatted with the lady who runs the place. She had been to New York and was asking us where we were from and the like. One of her grandsons was there and he fell asleep at the bar. It was just too cute.

We decided that we should stop loitering at this womens cafe and moved into the tourist information center for the last hour of our wait. I grabbed an awesome brochure for Akita and sat around until our shinkansen came. We had some funny business people wave at us from the shinkansen heading to Akita and then later when we stopped along side another shinkansen I smiled to another pair of business men who then smiled and waved back to me. It was awesome. The shinkansen only took an hour and a half to get back to Sendai and I was out at 10:30pm. I slept for almost 11 hours last night. It felt amazing and I think that my body really needed it.

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5th December 2007

Winter Wonderland
What a beautiful wonderland you found. I loved your story of the finner dinner and the hot baths, What a great adventure. Maybe it is time to find some boots, you know like snow boots? Love your stories & you! LebdaWhen

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