Friday, July 24, 2009

Lake Towada

On June 27th, hubby and I went to see Lake Towada. Lake Towada (Towada-ko in Japanese) is neither the biggest nor the deepest lake but arguably the most beautiful lake in Japan. The lake is so beautiful that Japan’s notable travel writer Keigetsu Omachi from the Meiji era admired the beauty of the lake saying ‘There is no other lake as Lake Towada in the world just as there is no other mountain like Mt. Fuji’.
Map of Lake Towada and surrounding area

Lake Towada is located in Towada-Hachimantai National Park, which occupies a mountainous area on the border between Aomori and Akita prefectures. Lake Towada is believed to have been created by volcanic activities about 200000 years ago, assuming its basic shape as a result of a great volcanic eruption of Mt. Towada that occurred about 40000 years ago. It is a double caldera lake located at an altitude of 400 meters above sea level with a perimeter of approximately 46 km. At 59.58 km2 area, the lake is almost square, extending about 10 km from north to south and east to west. The lake is about 327 meters deep at its deepest point, which makes it the third deepest lake in Japan. A Caldera is a large crater created by a volcanic eruption and the mountain ridges that surround a caldera lake are called its outer rim. Lake Towada is surrounded by outer rim composed of mountains 600 to 1000 meters high including Mt. Ohanabe, Mt. Towada, and Mt. Towari. The lake water drains from the northeastern part via Oirase River. The bright blue color of the lake is due to its depth. Two peninsulas Nakayama-hanto and Ogura-hanto stretch out toward the center of the lake and Nakanoumi between these two peninsulas has the deepest part of the lake.

Lake Towada was designated a national park in 1936. A natural forest of beech and Japanese Judas trees is spread around the lake. Wild cherry and Magnolia kobus trees bloom in spring. The forest is covered with fresh green leaves in summer, which all turn red and yellow in fall and provides a gorgeous view. The transparent crystal water of the lake reflects the lakeside rocks and colorful trees creating beautiful scenes through all the seasons. This lake is the most notable scenic sites of Tohoku region and is very popular tourist attraction.

Hubby and I started from our home at about 9.30 am. It took us about four hours to reach Towada lake area by our car. First we went to Hakka Pass (Hakkatoge) observatory deck in Kosaka town of Akita prefecture. In fact, there are three more main observatories named Kankodai, Mt. Ohanabe, and Takinosawa around Lake Towada that offers the fun of viewing panoramic beauties surrounding Lake Towada from various angles. Winding mountain road led to Hakka Pass observatory, which is located at the end of Jukai line road. The observatory is situated at a height of 631 meters and is popular among tourists for its clear full view of the lake, which is believed to be the best amongst all observatories in the area. The highest mountain of the area, Mt. Ohanabe, could be seen in front while the Hakkoda Ranges were visible at the rear. The jutting peninsulas of Nakayama and Ogura were to the right and thick foliage of the lakeside trees could be seen on the left. A stunning landscape weaving together the tranquil surface of a lake surrounded by an outer ring of lava domes, the distinctive forms of the Nakayama and Ogura peninsulas, and thick woods that grow at the lakeshore was simply amazing and breathtaking. After enjoying the view from the observatory hubby bought dango and softcream from a shop-cum-restaurant. We enjoyed eating them at the car parking area.
Hubby standing next to a notice board at Hakka Pass observatory

View from Hakka Pass observatory

Another view from Hakka Pass observatory along with a sightseeing tour bus

Hubby at Hakka Pass observatory deck

Me at the observatory

Me posing at the observatory

A shop-cum-restaurant next to the observatory

Hubby with softcream and dango

After enjoying the view from Hakka Pass observatory, we went to a small town named Yasumiya, which is an area situated at the southern shore around the base of Nakayama peninsula. It was just a 10 minutes drive from Hakka Pass observatory. While parking our car in the area, we realized that we were in Aomori prefecture, and not Akita! Yasumiya serves as a transportation hub and is the tourist centre with Towada Science Museum, hotels, and souvenir shops. Shores of Lake Towada remain largely undeveloped with the exception of Yasumiya, which has a cozy atmosphere and is the busiest area around the lake.
Yasumiya town area

At Yasumiya, hubby and I took a stroll on the promenade along the lake shore, and enjoyed the views of the lake and wild plants growing in the surrounding forest. The lakeside walking trail was simply superb. The bright blue color of the lake was stunning. The peaceful lake, and beautiful mountains and forest brought a sense of peace and tranquility for hubby and me. Both of us felt a sense of inner peace.
Me at the lakeside walking trail in Yasumiya

Me at the lakeside walking trail

Hubby at the lakeside walking trail

Outer rim mountain ridge

On our way to the beach

The view of the lake and surrounding mountains and cliffs can also be enjoyed by using sightseeing cruising vessels. There were 1-2 departures from Yasumiya every hour. It is a one hour trip and took passengers to various points on the lake. We skipped cruising this time. In addition, there were pink dinosaur and swan shaped small paddle boats for boating in the lake. Hubby and I wished to do boating using these small boats. Unfortunately, it was a very windy day and we could not do any boating.
Small paddle boats and cruise vessels at the lake

After about ten minutes of walking, we reached Gozengahama beach. While walking on the lakeside trail, we saw a very small island named Ebisu Daikoku Jima. There were two Shinto shrines on the island.
Ebisu Daikoku Island

Another view of Ebisu Daikoku Island

Me at the beach near Ebisu Daikoku Island

Hubby at the beach near Ebisu Daikoku Island

Hubby and I initially took a long leisurely walk along Gozengahama beach. The waves hitting the lake shore made a superb view at the beach. Later we had lots of fun walking and running along the beach. We both got tired after sometime, and sat and relaxed at the beach and enjoyed the spectacular view all around us.
Gozengahama beach

People enjoying at Gozengahama beach

Hubby posing at Gozengahama beach

Me searching rounded pebbles at Gozengahama beach

Me relaxing at Gozengahama beach

There is a bronze statue of a pair of nude maidens (otome no zou) at Gozengahama beach, which is a symbol of Lake Towada. The statue was sculpted by Koutaro Takamura, a famous poet as well as an artist. The statue was placed by Aomori Prefecture in 1953 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the designation of Lake Towada as a national park and to honor and recognize the services of the poet Keigetsu Omachi (who introduced Lake Towada to the world), then-governor of Aomori prefecture, and then-mayor of the village.
Bronze statue of a pair of Otome maidens at Gozengahama beach

After enjoying the view of the lake and its beautiful surroundings for about two hours, we walked back to Yasumiya shopping area and restaurants. At a restaurant, we had early dinner of zaru soba (chilled soba noodles topped with shredded nori seaweed) and rice set with Himemasu trout fish, a special local product of Lake Towada. The fish was delicious. Himemasu (chippu) is a trout variety that is a dwarf form of red salmon (Kokanee salmon). In fact, originally Lake Towada was sterile and had no fishes. Sadayuki Wainai stocked the lake with red salmon of Lake Shikotsu in Hokkaido in 1903. Red salmon farming was successfully developed and today over one million salmon are harvested annually. Nowadays red salmon fish delicacies are an important tourism resource in Towada area.
Rice set with Himemasu trout fish

Zaru soba set

Hubby having zaru soba

After dinner we enjoyed the lake and its surroundings for some more time and then started on our return trip at about 5.30 pm. By the time we reached home, hubby and I were tired of the long drive yet we both felt very relaxed and peaceful after seeing the wonderful beauty of Lake Towada.


sayan said...

moni tomer blog jokhonpori tomer sob kichuato storng je vabtei viso valo lage.. darun hoyeche tor blog te........

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much for your comment Sayan. Do visit often and read my blog :) Your blogs are interesting too.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading about Lake Towada and the area. I got to visit quite a few times in the mid-1980's and will always have a special place in my heart for that place.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Anonymous for reading my post about Lake Towada. More than 3 decades have passed since you visited this place. The pictures of Lake Towada must have been nostalgic for you. Recently hubby and I had been to Oirase Stream near Lake Towada. I have written a post about it. Please do read it whenever you get time. Thanks again.

randy livininsurprise said...

Lake Towada has always been a tranquil place to visit. Thanks for sharing your pictures. It has brought back fond memories of our 4 years in Japan '93-97. Hello from Surprise, Arizona.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks randy livinginsurprise for your comment. Hope you enjoyed the virtual trip of the lake!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your interesting description of Lake Towada. We saw a beautiful program about the lake and its trout on NHK this morning. A boat trip around the lake looks like a good idea.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your nice comment Anonymous. Yes, we would also like to take a boat trip next time we go to the lake.