Autumn in Akita and Iwate

Because I arrived at Lake Towada too late, I could only briefly play canoeing. The wind was quite strong towards that night. So I went straight to the hotel.

Towada Prince Hotel, Kazuno-gun, Akita

The hotel I stayed in in Akita was right on the edge of Lake Towada. Hotels that are named Prince Towada this French theme. So the building is somewhat European. Behind him were small hills that were already colorful with autumn leaves. I feel like I’m in Switzerland not in Japan. The morning sun only shone briefly and then covered by clouds. Luckily I was able to capture it.

Good morning from Lake Towada

Lake Towada is included in the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. One of the natural icons in the Tohoku region. This lake has a unique view in every season. Including this fall in October. This lake is quite big. If we circle this lake, it will take about 46 km or one and a half hour drive.

Autumn leaves in the morning sun
Autumn sunrise

Towada Lake Boat Tour

After breakfast I took the Lake Towada Excursion Boat tour. With a ship that is similar in size to the Java-Bali ferry. The boat goes around for about 45 minutes to interesting spots around the lake.

Even though the sky was cloudy, I could still enjoy the autumn colors at Lake Towada. I can’t imagine if there was even a little sun, my camera wouldn’t stop taking pictures along the way.

Several times I was invited to speak Japanese by Japanese grandmothers. I thought it was Japanese. In Bali, I was also mistaken for Japanese by the receptionist. In fact, when I look in the mirror, I think I look more like a Kenyan than a Japanese person. Ha ha! Luckily in Tohoku, I was accompanied by a colleague from JNTO who translated the grandmother so I can still chat even if it’s small talk haha!

Otome No Zo Statue

From the boat I also saw statues of two naked women. From the ship’s announcer who also speaks English, I heard that this statue is called Otmoe no Zo. A bronze statue made by a sculptor named Kotaru Takamura.

At the end of the trip, I saw a bridge over the lake. There is a river flowing out. It turned out to be the Oirase-Keiryu estuary that I visited the previous day!

Akita is a prefecture that is dominated by mountains. Make it a good land for farming. Akita rice is one of the best rice in Japan. While eating at several eateries and hotels, I swear this is the best rice I’ve ever eaten! The rice is dense, sticky, and slightly sweet. It’s good to just eat rice without side dishes!

Don’t forget to eat this fish around Towada Lake, lots of street food and restaurants that sell it. Tastes like salmon but a bit dry and salty!

Inawiwa Udon

Another famous thing about Akita — besides the woman who is said to be in the top 3 most beautiful women in Japan –, is Udon! But the udon here is not the thick udon you usually see at Marugame udon. The type of udon here is called Inaiwa. The udon is similar to Italian pasta, thinner and not as big as regular udon.

If you know the famous udon restaurant in Shibuya, Ginza, and some areas in Tokyo called Sato Yosuke, in Akita this is the central branch. All udon here handmade.

The udon recipe has been passed down from generation to generation during the 150 years this restaurant was founded. Only a few dozen meters from the restaurant is an udon factory. We can request a tour of making udon here for free. If you have booked beforehand, you can also learn to make your own udon. After that, we can take the udon home. Yummy!

To get to this udon restaurant, you can take a bus or taxi from Yuzawa station. Therefore, the JR east pass will really help you if you want to get around the Tohoku area.

From Akita I headed to Iwate. I was already imagining a winding road trip through the mountains that would make me drunk. I also tried to sleep. But apparently I can’t fall asleep, because the scenery along the way is so cool!

Along the way this is the view

The name of this road is the Hachimantai Aspite Line, a 27-kilometer road within the Towada-Hachimantai National Park area that connects Iwate and Akita prefectures. Along the way, the yellow, red, and orange momoji leaves spoiled my eyes. This route is usually closed in winter because the snow is too thick. But usually in April, the road is reopened by presenting a snow wall that reaches 6 meters high on the roadside!

I also focused on the camera all the way, my stomach was slightly shaken due to the winding ups and downs I ignored. Eyegasm!

In the middle of the road there is a rest area right at the top of the mountain. When I got off the bus to go to the toilet, the wind was really strong! The temperature shows minus two. No wonder my hands freeze a bit when pressing the camera shutter. Soon I was back inside to continue the journey.

In the afternoon I arrived at APPI Highland. Where APPI Kogen Ski Resort is located. This place is usually crowded in winter for people to ski from December to February. Of course I’m not here to ski because it hasn’t snowed yet. But there is something interesting about this resort: the restaurant serves halal-certified food!

Set halal menu at APPI resort

Because more and more Muslim visitors are here, the restaurant at the APPI resort named Nanashigure also has a halal certificate. The restaurant manager is also a Muslim from China. For the halal menu, there are several set courses for dinner and breakfast. For dinner it’s amazingly delicious.

Maybe because I was cold outside where the temperature was already zero degrees Celsius. But alas, the portion is too big. I also have to put some leftovers into the lunch box that I take with me every trip. Maybe tonight I’ll be hungry. #gakmaurugi :))

Halal restaurant certificate
Breakfast that is also halal-certified

Geibikei Gorge (Geibikei Gorge)

The next day I visited Geibikei Gorge. A canyon formed by the Satetsu River, surrounded by cliffs up to 50 meters high! “Geibi” in Japanese means “Lion’s Nose” which comes from the shape of a giant limestone rock at the end of the canyon that is shaped like that.

Geibikei Gorge can be reached on foot from Geibikei Station on the JR Ofanuto Line. So it’s easy to achieve. If you are from Sendai City.

Kano-san, our boatman

Here I took a boat tour for about 90 minutes. Uniquely, the ship does not use an engine. But only using long bamboo which is made to move the ship by pushing it against the surface of the river.

“Welcome to Geibikei! I am Kano-san,” said the captain of our ship. I also boarded the ship which is about 6 meters long.

Throughout Geibikei the atmosphere was very calm. Nice breeze though a bit cold. The surface of the water which is only thigh high of an adult looks very clear. Salmon and other small fish are seen hanging around.

“You can’t take anything here, you can’t even take fallen leaves. Especially fish,” Kano-san said to me.

After about 30 minutes, the boat turned inland, we were invited down by Kano-san to enjoy Geibikei on foot. At the end of the canyon there is also a hole in the cliff which is believed to bring good luck.

Stones for 100 yen containing lucky words can be purchased to be thrown there. The stone seems to be made of a fragile material of lime so it can dissolve in water. After several tries, I couldn’t get a single stone in. Luck seems to be with the masons.

After satisfied walking, I returned to the boat. Kano-san returned to pedaling the long bamboo. But this time he wasn’t talking about Geibikei anymore. He sings! The song sung is a folk song called Geibikei Oiwake.

Lunch at Higashiyama Kanko Hotel near Geibikei entrance. Muslim friendly seafood. When I ate here there were several Singaporean Muslims who were also on vacation.

The boat is running again. Kano-san’s singing makes this cold autumn air feel warmer.

I headed back to Akita to head to the hotel. Not an ordinary hotel, but this is a typical Japanese hotel aka a ryokan! To get here from Yuzawa station you can take a taxi or bus. If taking the Yuzawa bus, stop at the Motoyu bus stop. It’s only a one to two minute walk from there.

Sleeping on the Futon

Ryokan prices are usually more expensive than regular inns. Maybe almost the same price as if you stay at a standard 5-star hotel in Jakarta. But the experience is completely different. You have to try a ryokan if you go to Japan!

Ryokan . room interiors

First, the interior of the building is really a traditional Japanese house. The floor of the room is tatami. Tatami is a kind of mat that is rather thick and made of straw. The smell is special especially when it’s raining outside. Really feels like home. And the most unique thing is that there is no bed or bathroom in the room!

Remember the Doraemon movie? When Nobita wants to sleep, he always opens the cupboard and takes out a mattress (futon in Japanese) from there then puts it on the floor. The bathroom is in…..Onsen! Onsen is a warm pool that is used for bathing. There are outdoor and indoor.

Before entering the onsen, you have to rinse your body first in the bathroom inside the onsen. But you have to know, in this Onsen you can’t wear anything. There should not be a single thread in the body. Must be round!

private onsen just for me alone!

Onsen is divided into male and female. I also entered the men’s onsen. But just at the entrance, I already saw an unusual sight from a distance. For fear of becoming addicted later, I opted out :))

I was told there is also a private onsen in this Ryokan. Usually used for families. It’s just that you have to book first because you use them interchangeably. The good thing about this private onsen is that I can take as many photos as I want. Which of course you can’t do in a public onsen!

After eating, soaking in the onsen, it’s time to sleep before continuing this autumn trip in Tohoku!

Check out other posts from the series Autumn in Tohoku!

Create by ipadguides in category of Travel Story