Wednesday, March 21, 2012

4 Days of Freedom: Aizu

A four day weekend is one of those perfect bits of time, long enough to take a day trip, and still have plenty of time to do all the things people usually end up doing on weekends (cleaning, cooking, laundry... koto practice) in a leisurely fashion.

Saturday was spent at the dentist (boo), followed by koto okeiko in Saitama (yay) and then at dinner with Matcha-kun (yay²).

Sunday was odd, starting with a sneak-goukon in Futagotamagawa (which I had no idea was one until stepping through the door... more about that in  later post), and followed by a lovely birthday carb-fest at home with my sharemates.

And Monday I rode the Tobu Nikko line for almost four hours, to go skiing in Aizu with a friend from college. Aizu is indeed in Fukushima prefecture, however is safe and well-monitored by both public and private organizations for radiation. A lot of Tohoku is really struggling right now, and as an ethical traveller I feel it is important (while keeping safety in mind) to try and help in some small way.

And, truly, it is absolutely beautiful.

My friend Hippy-chan spent the season working at the Takatsue Ski Resort, which has tons of good slopes for all levels, and some of the best fresh powder I have seen in years. This is obviously a place for serious snowboarders and skiers, and not a place people go to be seen. The view from the top slopes was breathtaking, mountain after mountain covered in bare trees and snow, with hawks riding the termals above it all.

After hours of racing down the mountain, I hitched a ride with Hippy-chan, as she was going back to Tochigi for the day. On the way we stopped for softcream, her choosing the famous grape-flavoured one, and me, being adventurous, trying the tomato-flavoured version. Surprisingly it was really tasty, just tomato-y enough, and balanced by the fresh milk taste!

Our second stop, before she dropped me off at the station, was Yumori Tanakaya, a ryokan in Nasushiobara. There is nothing better, after having skied for hours, than jumping into a hot onsen! The main draw are the two outdoor onsen, one of which is a national treasure. After climbing down to the river, there are several baths either overlooking or directly on the river, surrounded by statuary bleached rock and forest.

What a shock it was, when I returned to Tokyo after less than 24 hours, to find that in my absence spring had suddenly arrived!


  1. That sounds like it was a lot of fun ;o; I wanted to try skiing this year, but something about the outdoors and cold just kept me from it ;)
    Next year, for sure~

    Anyway, that onsen sounds like something I could get with! The atmosphere seems quite dream-like :)

    1. It was pretty great, I totally recommend it!

  2. holy crap that looks AMAZING. snow and then onsen! such a great Japan experience!