Sunday, May 11, 2008


Another cold and cloudy day in Japan.... I hear the weather back home is warm and sunny... not pleased!

Regardless, we're not letting a little rain get in the way of doing stuff. Yesterday morning we hopped into Takeshi's car and headed North out of the Kanto plain and into the mountains of Fukushima. From this rest stop, we could see some remnants of mountain cherry blossoms, though you can't really tell in this picture.

After a long but scenic drive through the mist covered mountains, we arrived at our first stop, Ouchijuku.

Ouchijuku was an important stop along the road to Aizu. They've recreated the village rather authentically (if you can disregard the towering power lines which mar the mountains which are a backdrop to the village) and the buildings house a number of shops and restaurants.

Unfortunately, we weren't prepared for this unseasonable weather, and so Keita had to make due with doubling up his clothes and hanging on to mom for heat.

On the positive side though, the rain held off pretty well and we didn't get more than a sprinkling while walking around the town.

And with the elevation, some of the cherry trees lining the streets were still flowering.

All over this village and the surrounding towns, people had these shiba-sakura growing like crazy... they end up making like a carpet which is really quite nice... wonder if I can get something similar back home?

After enjoying a quick lunch at a nice restaurant at Ouchijuku, we hit the road, heading for Aizu. Once again, I was impressed at how well the little guy held up to all this traveling. When he wasn't sleeping, he would quietly play with his toys or watch the scenery rolling by.

Our reason for hitting up Aizu was to visit Turuga-jyou, a reconstruction of what was once the largest fortification in the Tohoku region. With the rain ending and the weather warming up a bit, we opted to pull out the stroller for the little guy.

While the castle itself is a rather disappointing concrete reconstruction, it is set on some of the original foundation which are made with some massive stones.

The grounds on which the castle sits are strewn with ruins, old wells and the foundations and walls of buildings which once stood here. As recently as the early 1990s, excavations revealed that there existed a fortification on this site as early as the 11th century.

Once we'd finished our tour, we gathered around the vending machines for something warm to drink. Yes, for those of you who may not know, Japanese vending machines dole out both hot and cold canned drinks... which is fantastic on a cold day. The machine we went for was actually a slightly more advanced model, which brews the drink for you, much like you'll find in countless hospital waiting rooms back in Canada. Not to be outdone, the Japanese version serve such delicacies as hot liquid cheesecake.

Which I of course HAD to try... turned out pretty good actually...

And that was about that. For the ride home, we opted for the 40$ toll expressway to save us about an hour. On the way, the skies parted a bit and I managed a quick peak at ol' Bandai-san, which I've skied in the winter.

Nothing much going on for today, just recovering from yesterday's travels. Tomorrow, Utsunomiya, and Later this week: Tokyo!


Blogger Anskov said...

glad y'all are having a good time back in Japan. The pics look great. Tell me, will you see old Scotto?

7:36 AM  
Blogger Christelle said...

Hi again! It's so weird to see photos of Ottawa (where my family is) and Bandai-san (near where I live in) on your blog!! We have to meet one day, but I figure it will be easier to do in Ottawa. I wasn't lying about the weather being beautiful before, don't know what happened! My husband had to get our heater out again. But it's supposed to get nicer this weekend. That's good timing for me as I start maternity leave next week! Yay! Glad to hear Keita is doing so well with all the travel and visiting. We'll be traveling to Canada when our little one's around the same size as Keita is now. You're life is kind of like a mirror of mine!

7:39 AM  
Blogger Michel Lafleur said...

Mattoto! Nope, no Scotto... I believe that lad is in New Zealand at the moment???

7:42 AM  
Blogger tornadoes28 said...

I also visited Ouchijuku Aizuwakamatsu and amazingly took an almost identical picture to the one you have in front of the castle with your wife and baby in the stroller.

Just hours before I was at Ouchijuku, then PM Koizumi visited there. I was sorry I missed him.

4:18 PM  

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