December 31, 2009
The entrance of Tsurunoyu. They displayed some New Year's ornaments.
After we arrived at the hot spring, we had to wait till 3:00 PM to check in. So, we had lunch at the waiting room and looked around the inn and bathed in the hot spring. The water was whitish and felt really good after walking outside in the snow.
After checking in, we bathed a few more times and had nice dinner at our own room. Even they served Toshikoshi Soba. (There is a custom in Japan to have Soba noodles on New Year's Eve night.) We slept a little after eating Soba and then bathed again around midnight... The first thing we were doing on the year 2010 was bathing in the outside bath of Tsurunoyu hot spring in the snow!
The inside of the waiting room.
Mountain vegetables Donburi for lunch.
The shrine at the hot spring.
The shrine at the hot spring.
From the window of our room.
One of the baths...they have 4 different kinds of hot spring water.
Dinner...Everything was so delicious.
Yama-no-imo Nabe...the specialty of this inn.
These white ball are made from Yam.
The bus from Tazawa Lake to Tsurunoyu Iriguchi.
After we walked by the lake for an hour or so, we took the bus to the entrance of the road to the Tsurunoyu Hot Spring, where we were going to stay. The snow was getting deeper and deeper as the bus went up from the lake. We started to walk at the Tsurunoyu Iriguchi BS around 9:30 and enjoyed walking in the beautiful snowy scenery and arrived at the hot spring a little bit before 11:00. We found no one coming from/going to the hot spring on foot.
Clearing off the snow from the road.
The sign of the hot spring at the place we got off the bus.
Tree branches were so beautiful with snow.
The second sign to the hot spring.
Interesting forms of the snow.
Finally arrived at the Tsurunoyu Hot Spring!!
Morioka Sta. in the morning...It was cold but there was little snow on the road there.
There are not so many "local" trains running from Morioka to Tazawako, so we had to get up early and took the 5:22 AM train to Tazawako. There was little snow at Morioka, but as the train went closer to the Japan Sea side, there was more and more snow by the tracks.
Morioka Sta. (5:22 - 6:09) Tazawako Sta. (6:55 - by bus - around 7:15) Tazawakohan BS (around 8:50 - by bus - 9:30) Tsurunoyu Onsen Iriguchi BS (9:30 - on foot - 11:00) Tsurunoyu Hot Spring.
The train to Tazawako.
The JR map around the area.
On 31st we went from Morioka to Tazawako.
On New Year's Day, we planned to stop by my home town, Funagata, which is one stop farther from Shinjo Sta.
The tourist information center was not even open yet.
We took the bus from there to Tazawa Lake.
Tazawa Lake is the deepest lake in Japan, 423.4 m deep.
The mountains were so beautiful with snow.
The lake looked blue.
We found the area with lots of mistletoe.
Hourai Pine Tree (蓬莱の松) by the lake.
Here is the panorama of the lake.
December 30, 2009
We traveled once again using the JR Hokkaido & East Japan Pass!
I couldn't make any plan until December 29th, the last day of my work this year. I didn't really expect to get the reservations at any hotels, but I tried calling the hotel in Akita, where I wanted to stay during our summer trip and was turned down then. This time, some kind of miracle happend... We got reservation on New Year's Eve! So, we decided to use the JR Hokkaido & East Japan Pass, which allows you to ride any local trains in those areas for 5 days, and planned to stay at Morioka on 30th. We got up early in the morning on 30th and our winter trip began!
Musashi-sakai Sta. (4:49 - 5:30) Kanda Sta. (5:35 - 5:40) Ueno Sta. (5:47 - 7:28) Utsunomiya Sta. (7:37 - 8:28) Kuroiso Sta. (8:37 - 9:56) Kooriyama Sta. (10:08 - 10:54) Fukushima Sta. (11:00 - 12:16) Sendai Sta. and we got Bento for lunch (12:45 - 13:30) Kogota Sta. (13:46 - 14:32) Ichinoseki Sta. (14:37 - 16:09) Morioka Sta. and we stayed at Touyoko Inn Hotel near the station.
Mt. Zao from the side of Miyagi prefecture. Near the Shiroishi-Zao Sta. on the way to Sendai.
We saw swans in the rice fields.
A fruit store near the Morioka Sta.
Daniel got 6 apples in a bag for only 100 yen!
Seiroukaku, a Yakiniku restaurant.
We stopped by a barber and had our hair cut after we checked in the hotel.
One of the barber recommended this restaurant to have Morioka's famous Reimen, Korean style cold noodles (冷麺).
The place looked pretty popular.
We asked them to serve the Kimchi separately, so we could add how much you like.
It was really tasty.
We walked outside after taking bath at the hotel.
It seemed Morioka was pretty comfortable place to live.
JaJa-men, another famous noodles in Morioka.
Meat Miso is top on the Udon noodles.
Adding some spices like garlic and ginger, mixing all well and eat...this one tasted good, too.
After eating the noodles, they made egg soup in the bowl. This soup tasted even better.