Sunday, August 8, 2010

Oirase Gorge and Lake Towada

Waterfall at Oirase Gorge

On July 17th we went to our first big festival at Lake Towada. On the way there we visited Oirase Gorge, which is GORGEOUS... and please excuse the pun. ;)  Oirase Gorge has many beautiful waterfalls and streams. There is one rest station that I can remember where you can use the bathroom and buy food and drinks, but most of the waterfalls you have to stop at the side of the road. On the way to Oirase Gorge we stopped at North Village which I believe is a ski lodge in the winter but they have a wonderful restaurant that sells mostly pizza which is cooked in a stone oven. Across the street from North Village is an information center/gift shop/restaurant/grocery store.

North Village

Owl carving in front of the restaurant
The stone oven
the ooey gooey cheesy deliciousness that came from the stone oven :)

the info center across from North Village

One of the streams at Oirase Gorge
One of the bigger, more beautiful waterfalls at Oirase Gorge

 We parked at the side of the road many times to take pictures and walk along the paths and enjoy this wonder of nature. I highly recommend going here, especially if you are into photography or just like relaxing scenery. There were many tour buses stopping here too. 

The Lake Towada Fireworks Festival was really fun. There were a lot of shops around so it was like a little town. They also had MANY food vendors (which I feel, so far, they had the best food at any of the festivals we have been to.) You can also rent a swan or dinosaur boat (3 people each/more expensive) for 30 minutes or a rowboat (2 people each/cheaper)  for an hour. We decided to use the rowboat. I thought it was great... but of course, I didn't do any rowing! The fireworks show was nice, but there were very long pauses between  each firework. That was the only downfall. I must say though, fireworks in Japan are MUCH nicer than the ones in the States!

One of the many, many food stands at the Lake!
The guy in the Happi Coat was telling people to have whatever they were cooking the Whole day! Genki!
Fish on a stick looks pretty brutal

Another interesting aspect of Lake Towada was the statue of the two sisters. You will read about it everywhere at the lake and there are a lot of "Two Sisters" products for sale. There is the story about them behind the statue, but if you cannot read Japanese, you are out of luck! Unfortunately, I still do not know the story, but when I find out, I will update!

And lastly, my favorite part about Lake Towada is that they have a Shinto Shrine there. If you don't know, I am a big shrine fan. I heard that you can get a passport type book and have it stamped by a priest at every shrine you go to. I still don't know what this book is called or how I can get it, but I am determined to get one!
Torii gate to the Shinto Shrine

After climbing a few stairs, here is the shrine

Afer climbing many, many, maaany more stairs you get to a few small shrines enclosed in boxes. (N.B. these are the "good" stairs, there is a really crazy/dangerous climb after you get to the top of this. Make sure you are wearing non-skid shoes if you really want to see it. I didn't find it worth it.

one of the tiny shrines after the dangerous climb
All in all, I had a great time at Oirase Gorge and the Festival at Lake Towada! Here are some directions:

Get on to Route 10. Take a left at Route 4. Take a right at Route 102. there will be a blue sign for "Towada-ko" keep goin guntil Oirase Gorge Sign and take a left. After Oirase Gorge there are signs to Towada-ko (Lake Towada). Enjoy!

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