Tag Archive | travelJapan

last days in the snow

This might be the last snow weekend in Japan for now!
Had a really fun weekend at Ahsahidake beginning of February – Asahidake is famous for being on of the best the powder & free ride areas of Hokkaido. Unluckily when we arrived, there was only harsh snow left over. This was very unusual for February as I learned. Asahidake has only two ski slopes and one gondola, therefore the first day was not really demanding. So we visited the snow festival in Asahikawa which was a funny alternative, even so it might be a smaller festival than the famous one in Sapporo.
Next day the wind was so strong the gondola did not work at all, so we packed some snow shoes and hiked up. Beautiful landscape and even a snow rabbit to see!
Luckily weather and snow were perfect at day three and we enjoyed a real powder day with the local guide Toshi (Totori Powder station), who really knows the area and showed us amazing free ride slopes trough the woods! Thanks for that!
Conclusion: Ashaidake is really a place to go if you are an experienced skier and you want to have some real Hokkaido Powder! But be aware – there is not much else to do (which was perfect for me) and you should not underestimate this mountain! It’s worth spending the money to be guided trough the area!

Now – this weekend it was the time to visit one of Honshu’s famous powder locations: Myoko Kogen, which consist of around 5 ski areas. Best description here: powderhounds. The snow was even higher than in Hokkaido, but also quite different! Even so we had fresh snow it was much more wet and less fluffy. But this is complaining an a real high level! Because on the one hand this years snow is said to be extra wet on the main island and on the other hand: come on – 4m snow and 20cm fresh powder, how bad can it be 😉 I visited Seki Onsen, which is the smallest of the ski areas, but known for a lot of nice back country. I really liked this snowy small village with the tiny Onsen and the nice ski huts! Worth a visit!

So – eventuell war das jetzt das letzte Mal Skifahren in Japan! Snief! Wir waren Anfang Februar in Hokkaido, Asahidake – bekannt für jede Menge Tiefschnee zur Wintersaison. Nach etwas Pech an den ersten Tagen hatten wir dann einen super Tag mit einem Lokalen Guide, der uns die Gegend gezeigt hat! Dank schlechtem Wetter gab’s auch noch einen Kurztrip nach Asahikawa um das dortige Snow Festival zu besuchen.

Und dieses Wochenende musste es noch mal ein Skigebiet auf der Hauptinsel sein, Myoko Kogen liegt in den japanischen Alpen und man fährt entlang 4m hohen Schneemauern hoch in die Berge. Der Schnee ist hier zwar wirklich weniger fluffig als in Hokkaido aber es war auf jeden Fall den Besuch wert 🙂

the panties vending machine & the early cherry blossoms

Found it! During the first weekend on Izu for this year!
When we paddled up the hill with the bikes after a short sightseeing tour, we found a panties vending machine!! Hidden in small, run down shed. What a surprise to find one of the infamous Japanese machines somewhere in Izu… very strange!!

To change the topic – a short summary of the weekend! Even so it was rainy we went to Izu, to visit Kawazu’s famous early Sakura (Cherry blossom) and to do the “Seven Falls Hiking course”. For those who want to see Sakura already: Go to Kawazu now! The Cherry trees are blooming along the river for more than one kilometre down to the seaside!
 
The Seven falls are nice to visit, but do not expect too much! We did the course from the top as described >>here on page 6, but when we recognized, the main part of the hike is a gravel walk we decide to go by bike. Some parts are handable with an Mountain bike in-between and for some parts you have to carry the bike down the wooden stairs (as usual…)
The annoying part starts, when ending up in the real sightseeing zone, where you have to share the path with all tourist. Not recommendable in peak season!
But the small waterfalls are nice to visits and I could imagine it would be great to take a dip in the cold water during summer season. Just not sure if this would be appreciated…

Habe einen der berüchtigten Unterhosen Automaten gefunden!
Wo und wann? In Izu, als wir mit den Fahrrädern den Berg zurück zum Auto hochgetreppelt sind, in einer kleinen runter gekommenen Hütte am Straßenrand. Schräg!

Um schnell das Thema zu wechseln eine kurze Zusammenfassung des Wochenendes! Das erste mal dieses Jahr ging es wieder mal nach Izu, um in Kawazu die berühmte, frühe Sakura (Kirschblüte) besuchen und die “Seven Falls Wanderung” zu machen. Für diejenigen, die jetzt schon Kirschblüte sehen wollen: Ab nach Kawazu! Ca. 1km entlang des Flusses blüht es jetzt schon bis zum Meer!
Die sieben Wasserfälle (Seven Falls) waren nett, aber man darf nicht zu viel erwarten! Wir haben die Wanderung vom oberen Startpunkt (siehe Karte Seite 6) gemacht, aber da der groesste Teil einfach ein breiter Kiesweg war, haben wir kurzerhand beschlossen das ganze mit den Fahrrädern zu machen. Ein paar Stücke zwischen drin gingen gut mit den Mountainbike aber zum Teil muss man das Fahrrad die Holztreppen runter tragen.
Nervig wurde es dann erst am Ende, wenn der Pfad übergeht in den wirklichen Sightseeing Spot – dann sind zu viele Touristen auf dem Weg und es ist besser abzusteigen und zu schieben.
Aber die kleinen Wasserfälle sind auf jeden Fall schön, und ich konnte mir direkt vorstellen wie es wäre im Sommer in die kalten Wasserbecken zu springen.
Allerdings bin ich mir nicht sicher, ob das auf Begeisterung stoßen würde…

obon 2014 |#3 roadtrip to the south

So – next stop Miyazaki. Famous for its beautiful beaches. Honestly, I was a little bit disappointed. Maybe the reason was somehow, that due to the Typhoon a lot of garbage and dirt was washed ashore and the water was more brown than clear.
From a Auto-Camping site, by bike, we visited the small island Aoshima. The whole area is famous for the interesting shapes stones at around the island and shore, shaped like “Wash-boards” – therefore called “the devil/giant wash-board”.
Before getting a sunburn, our trip lead us to Mt. Yufu, close to Bepu. Next to the entrance of the Hike up to the mountain, we found a small parking area to spend the night. Next morning, at 6:00 we started our hike to the two summits. Again I have to say: Hiking in Japan is challenging. If the hike is described as “moderate” be aware it can include short passage, were you have to climb, as well as steep, narrow paths. At the end, and due to a not very accurate map, it took as 6.5 hours for 12km trough the mountains. But the view from the Top was stunning!
Afterwards, thanks to the Lonely planet, we visited a small, mixed bathhouse in Yufuin

 The next day the rain catched up. When driving to the mystic morning scene of Shikoku, along the Shimanto River, the rain got so strong, we had to drive along, to get to Osaka in the evening. Anyway, what I saw in Shikoku looked like, Kayaking and hiking can be really nice there. So I’m a little sad to miss the chance to spend more time in that region.

Osaka than was a like getting back to “big-city-reality”. Crowded, hot and noisy as well as completely different to Tokyo. I liked it very much, because as written before the city is a little bit less structured and organized and therefore everything seems to be a little bit more flexible.
So a good last stop on our trip before returning to Musashi-Kosugi!

okinawa // ishigaki

verlassene strände, türkisfarbenes meer und urwald?
nicht unbedingt das was man in japan sucht oder erwartet. aber der 2 stunden flug in richtung okinawa lohnt sich, denn hier gibt wunderschöne tropische inseln, die vorallem in der nebensaison völlig augestorben sind.

wir haben uns also eine woche strandurlaub auf ishigaki island gegönnt, inklusive japanese-style bungalow.
das einzige problem: mitte der woche hat sich der nächste taifun angekündigt und es wurde “windig”. also, zurück nach tokio!
Es war trotzdem sehr schön und wir gehen sicherlich noch einmal hin. schließlich war das nur eine von vielen inseln und die mantas haben wir dieses mal auch verpasst 🙂

ishigaki island during off season: lonely beaches & turquoise sea. another beautiful, unexpected side of japan! was worth the 2 hour flight, and was surly not the last time to go there!