Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rikuchu Kaigan

On July 4th weekend Amy and I ventured south to the 40th parallel to visit a stretch of coast Japan has designated as a national park. Rikuchu Kaigan, as it is known, is about a 100 mile span of jagged cliffs that drop into the Pacific Ocean. As you can see by the pictures, there were some pretty impressive views along the way. Since it was in the middle of the week, we didn't have to deal with hordes of Japanese tourists.
Since this was pretty far away from our base, we were often gawked at by the Japanese tourists we did encounter. They were probably wondering what the heck we were doing there.
After driving down the road for several hours (checking in on campgrounds along the way) we finally found a campground to stay the night.
Even though it was in July, many of the campgrounds had just opened due to the rain that falls in May and June (aka the rainy season). So we were kind of surprised to find we were the only ones staying at the campground we had found (Amy got the directions from an ice cream stand on the side of the road). The guy who ran the place didn't have any change for the bills we were carrying, so we had to dig all the change we could find from our car...luckily it was enough. The picture below is how we transferred our camping stuff to the actual camp site (many campgrounds have this type of rickshaw type thing).
The campground itself was very nice being 100 yards from the beach, and we had it all to ourselves. We decided to build a fire on the beach and eat dinner, but in the middle of eating it started sprinkling. We headed back to the tent not knowing what was about to hit us. That night I think a monsoon sat right on top of our tent...our shade tarp had collapsed due to all the rain, and our tent had leaked. The next morning the man who ran the campground came to check on us (even though he couldn't speak a lick of English). After we got all our gear stowed, we went to Ryusen-do cavern which was in the area...not too impressive. We decided after the monsoon the night before, we wanted to stay in our dry house the next night.

Towada Lake

In July we made our way once again to the Hachimantai-Towada National Park. On this trip our main objective was to find campgrounds for future trips to Lake Towada. With a depth of 327 meters, the lake is the third deepest in Japan.
We spent a lot of the first day just driving around since it was a little rainy, but it ended up being fairly nice the rest of the day. The small town of Yasumiya borders the lake, and offers several points of interest...including our tomato head friend.
The next day Amy and I (after an hour or so of searching our Japanese map/GPS) decided to climb Mount Towada (Towadayama). Although this mountain was only 3000 ft, it was a very difficult hike due to the amount of foliage you had to hike through.
As you can see in the picture above, sometimes you were completely surrounded by small trees and bushes. I made the mistake of doing the hike without pants on, and my legs ended up looking like I'd been kicking barbed wire. You can see a little snippet on the video.

The hike wasn't too much fun, but the view from the peak was pretty nice. As usual, Amy and I had our freeze dried meal at the peak (along with some Pizza Combos).
And I couldn't leave this picture out. There is a famous bronze sculpture (famous in Japan anyways) on the lake with two naked ladies giving each other high fives. We found this in town, and I made Amy jump behind it.