Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bandai Asahi National Park, Japan - August 2008

Goshikinuma Ponds

While we were in Misawa, Japan we ventured down to Fukushima prefecture over Labor Day Weekend (not celebrated by the Japanese, so no tourist traffic).  After a six hour drive and a restful night at our favorite Japanese lodging, Toyoko Inn, we headed in to Bandai Asahi National Park.

Choshigataki Falls

It was a rainy day, so our plans to hike Mt Bandai were put on the back burner for today.  Instead we took a hike around the Goshikinuma, a series of ponds and lakes with emerald green colors (thanks to the high mineral deposits from the nearby volcanoes).

Amy and Heath at Choshigataki Falls

Later in the day we made a short and slippery hike to Choshigataki Falls.  It's named this because it looks like a 'choshi', which is what sake is poured from.  That night we stumbled upon a very nice bed and breakfast with its own onsen (we voted against camping in the rain).

One of the Many Lakes of Bandai Asahi

The next morning the skies were still overcast, so we decided to venture to the nearby town of Aizu-Wakamatsu to see the reconstructed castle.  The castle was pretty neat, and the clouds started clearing up.

Wakamatsu Castle

Although the structure dates back to 1593, most of it was reconstructed in the 1950's. 

Wakamatsu Castle with Bonzai Tree

The interior now serves as a castle museum with several exhibits on life in the shogun era.  Although we couldn't read any of the exhibits, it was still worth the money.  It also had a neat bonzai garden on one of the terraces.   After lunch at a Japanese imitation of KFC, we headed back to the national park.

Amy and Heath Biking in Bandai Asahi

We spent the rest of the afternoon mountain biking around one of the many lakes found in the park.  These lakes and ponds were formed after Mt Bandai erupted in 1888 and dammed up several rivers and streams.

Mt Bandai Trail Head

On the third and final day of our trip the weather finally cleared enough for us to give 'ol Bandai San a go.  Although it only reaches 1,819 meters (about 6,000 feet), the base is only about 500 feet above sea level.

View from atop Mount Bandai

Along the hike we had magnificent views of the lakes and ponds we had hiked and biked around previously.  And since Bandai San is an active volcano, we witnessed several steam vents and bubbling water puddles on the way up.

Amy and Heath At the Top of Mount Bandai

When we got to the top we were greeted by about a dozen shocked Japanese and a million dragon flies.  As usual, there was a mini shrine erected at the peak of the mountain.  After a nice lunch on top, we descended and began the journey home.

Shrine at Peak of Mount Bandai


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