MP3 track of the day: A way of life – The Last Samurai
Weather: raining in the morning, with it easing in the afternoon. The temperature was so cool that I got to wear my jacket for the first time this trip (again just an observation, not a complaint)
I awoke at the usual time of 8am. I opened my curtains to find that the heavens were open and it was raining hard. I ignored this fact and got ready knowing that my morning would be spent inside. Once ready I went down to the kitchen to update my blog and upload my photos. The kitchen has the best Wi-fi reception within the hostel, so every update has come from there; each time I've been in there the owner has too, and each time he's tried to offer me something to either eat or drink. Eggs, fruit, coffee, vegetables you name it, he's offered it. I've always declined (usually to do with the fact that the food seems to stay out all day, with no cover and flies buzzing around) however this time he offered me a cool can of orange soda. I gratefully accepted and his face beamed as finally, he'd found something which I liked. I opened the can and got down to updating my blog and uploading my photos (whilst watching the Japanese woman’s football team beat the French to give them a place in the Olympic final … good on them).
By noon I'd finished updating my blog. I put my PC within my room and went into town for lunch. Just like two days ago town was buzzing and every shop was open; I went into the restaurant which was full two days ago, and found a seat. A nervous looking waitress came over to me to take my order; I could she her anxiousness physically drain from her face as I ordered my meal in Japanese. Very quickly my 'katsu-curry' came and I woofed it down trying not to waste time. As I was finishing my meal a lady came over to me and asked where I lived; I've start to say Miyako because its funny to see the look on peoples faces. She said that she still feels for the tsunami victims, to which I replied that I shared her pain. After that I paid for my meal, told the waitress that it was delicious (in Japanese) and left heading towards my hostel and my car.
Today I would be hiking up the Oirase valley; a 'must do' according to my guidebook. The hike took place along a river, which is located on the east side of the lake; I therefore drove around the lake and parked up at the end of the hike. Earlier today I had decided two things; firstly that I would do the hike in the afternoon and secondly that I would do it backwards. The reason for this was all to do with the 'Japanese tourist buses'.Yesterday morning, while on my way to Aomori, I had driven up this valley where I met a sea of badly parked coaches. I worked out that most 'day trippers' must do the hike in the morning, before heading into town for lunch. The 'day trippers' would also be walking towards the lake, whereas I'd planned to walk away from it; this meant that if I did meet any tour groups, it shouldn't be for long. The only downside of this plan was that I wouldn't have enough time to complete the hike; it was three hours each way and, as the time was 1pm, realistically I only had time to go halfway before walking back to my car. I put my boots on, locked my car and hit the trail.
Within seconds I was greeted by a superb waterfall. The waterfall was surrounded by woodland and the water flowed over it at a fast pace; I set up my tri-pod and went to work, glad that no tour group was around. I then hit the hiking trail which followed the river for over 5km.
The river was surrounded by woodland on each side and above; the shade provided by the trees made the trail humid and hot. I only bumped into one tour group (and thankfully, not for very long); the rest of the time was just me and a few passing Japanese families. I gave a friendly 'hello', which most returned. For most of the walk it was just me and the sound of the river. I stopped often to take photo after photo and it took me three hours just to hit halfway. It was now 4pm and the rain was starting to become heavy once more; I knew that I'd only walked a little way (I had spent a lot of time taking photos) but I was unsure just how far away from the car I was. As I said the rain was falling and it was getting a little darker; I put my camera away and decided to 'frog march' it back to the car.
As it turned out, it only took an hour to get back to the car. I drove back to my hostel where I parked before walking into town. I went to the only restaurant, which would be open at 6pm (I'd been there twice before), and ordered the same meal as before (much to the amusement of the waiter). I ate quickly and left heading for my hostel and an early night.
So this kind of ends my trip. Tomorrow I will try to get up early and head back to the far end of the Oirase valley. I will then try to complete the walk I did today (should take around two hours) before heading east and then south, via the coastal road to Miyako. Tomorrow I hope to stop in Hachinohe and Kuji before getting home. I've thoroughly enjoyed myself thought I am pretty tired. If I was to do this trip again I would have left two days later, and spent one less night in Akita; this would have allowed me to see the Kanto festival. I also might have extended my stay here in Towada-ko for one extra night, so I could have visited the Hachimanta National Park (which is just south of here). Finally I would have had an extra couple of nights in the north-eastern part of Aomori, to allow me to see that area. Hindsight is a wonderful thing
I reckon my trip has cost around 73,000 Yen (£600), which is £100 less than I budgeted. Spending £600 over 8 days gives me a daily budget of £75 which, though not 'back-packer good', it's still pretty decent (petrol here is cheap so the car has saved me a fortune).
Right, I think that's it. I know I didn't like Towada-ko when I first arrived but its grown on me. Yes half of the buildings are abandoned, yes all the shops close after 4pm and yes there isn't a lot here … but it's kind of cute. So would I like to stay another day; would I like Interac to relocate me here...