Sunday, October 28th, 2001

It was one of those rare days when all of us are free at the same time – I wasn’t working, B wasn’t coaching, Sean wasn’t wrestling, Tim wasn’t caring for lame pets. When we find we’ve all got more than an hour together, we try to do something – play cards, go for a walk, yell and scream at one another, anything. On Sunday, we decided that, since we had most of the day, we’d try to find Lake Towada before the leaves had all fallen off the trees.

Lake Towada is one of those crater lakes left over after a volcano stops spewing fire and brimstone all over everybody and settles down for a few thousand years. The lake and Oirase Gorge, a river gorge leading from the lake down the side of the mountain, are both popular tourist destinations, although we didn’t realize how popular until we got about halfway up the side of the mountain where the two-lane road was choked with tour buses and just about every car in northern Honshu. Parking is never a problem in Japan; just like England, it’s perfectly all right to leave your car in the road and walk away for as long as you like. Oirase Gorge is reputed to be one of the most picturesque areas in Tohoku, this region of Japan, but frankly I thought it looked more like a parking lot than a natural preserve. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more if I come back out of season.

Lake Towada, it has to be said, was a beautiful place. Even in the subdued light of an overcast day, the colors of the leaves on the Japanese maples were striking, and the waters of the lake itself were wide and calm enough to inspire poetry, even when the cheesy swan-shaped paddle boats you can rent at the dockside crept into view. I somehow managed to find a place to park at even the crowded overlooks, which – you’ll have to take my word for this – was as close to miraculous as you can come when motoring around the lake. The views were always worth the agonizing twenty-minute climb in second gear it took to get there, and if we hadn’t been short on time I would’ve stopped more often and gazed at the view a little longer.

We did have enough time to stop for lunch, though, and, after agonizing over the menu posted at the doors of several restaurants, as Barb customarily does, we blundered into one on the lake shore, not because we knew they served what we wanted, but because we were getting really hungry. This is also customarily the way we solve the problem of which restaurant to eat at in a foreign country. For all the agonizing we do over the menus, we almost never learn to recognize what’s for dinner, we just learn which restaurants we like. The food, by the way, was almost as excellent as the view from the picture windows facing the lake, or the waitress’s English. She seemed as self-conscious and embarrassed to speak it as most of them do, but between her excellent English and our very broken Japanese she was a godsend, and we got delicious bowls of miso ramen that we happily slurped up, except for Tim, who can’t stand all the veggies.

Lake Towada | 9:27 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, food & drink | Tags: ,
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