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Every so often, AIU offers field trips to different places, and for international students, these...

Lake Tazawa and Kakunodate

Every so often, AIU offers field trips to different places, and for international students, these trips are free. Since part of my reason for studying abroad is to see different aspects of the country in which I study, and since my father always told me that free is a good price, I am going to try to go on any of the trips that don’t interfere with classes. Yesterday was one such bus trip. The trip in question was to Lake Tazawa and Kakunodate.

The trip started at around 8:30, when we all boarded our assigned buses. For these trips, it’s necessary to sign up in advance in order to reserve a spot, and the sign-up for this particular trip filled up so quickly that they had to close the application two days before the deadline. I think there were about four buses in total, and I know that there were about 36 people on the bus that I was on.

Our first stop was at a shop that sold soy sauce ice cream. It sounded strange to me, but I’d heard that it’s all the rage, so I decided that when I tried it, I would abandon all expectations. It didn’t have the soy-saucy taste that many of us Americans think of when we think of soy sauce. In actuality, it was a subdued sweet taste, and I could kind of taste that it had soy sauce in it. If you ever go to Japan, I recommend this awesome ice cream.

From there, we went to Lake Tazawa where there is a statue of a dragon. You can read about the legend of the dragon here. Some of us even took pictures by the statue. There was also a shrine nearby, and some charms for sale. I bought a cute good luck charm that I hung on the purse I bought last week. They had charms for love, money, and other such charms, but I thought having one for luck would make me happier.

Lake Tazawa is, not only the deepest lake in Japan, but it’s also apparently very big. After people had a chance to purchase charms and take pictures, we got back on the bus to go to the other side of the lake.

After that, we visited a souvenir shop where I picked up a few postcards to send to people. (I was waiting for this trip to get postcards.) They also were selling fish that smelled absolutely amazing. However, I got this cool rice thing instead. It’s sticky rice with mizo, and it’s served on a stick. It’s also served in mizo soup a lot, but it was on a stick at this place. The stick was made out of ceder. I thought briefly about keeping the stick, but then decided that would be silly. I learned that Akita is famous for ceder, though.

From there, we visited a place where we could view wild flowers, but it was raining, so I didn’t get any pictures, and the boards where I could walk around to the other side were kind of wet, and I think I was scaring the person that was with me, so I didn’t walk all the way around. Actually, I did slip a little, so it’s probably good that I listened to her and went back.

Each person who went on this trip got a free lunch box which consisted of two onigiri, some fried chicken, an egg, and a cherry tomato. (For those that don’t know what an onigiri is, it’s a rice ball with something on the inside such as salmon flakes, or things of that nature. They’re yet another Japanese food that I like.)

Next, we went to Kakunodat. I got to tour two of the samurai mantions. In the second one, everybody had to remove their shoes at the genkan (entry way) because the floor was laid with tatami mats. There were several display cases in the houses, which had the samurai armour, weapons, and other things. There was even a bunch of records and a player in one of the houses. I took pictures throughout this trip, but I upload all photos to facebook.

There were also many shops to explore, and this is where I bought a few souvenirs to take back to Portland. I think when talking about the things I pick up to take home, I will keep them a secret, because some I may give as gifts, and I don’t need people fighting over who gets what. (Ok, I know you won’t, because you’re all mature, but I also like to surprise people, too.) I was going to try sakura ice cream, but it got pretty cold and rainy, and I was feeling pretty tired by the end of the day.

But even with the cold and the rain, it was a pretty good day, and the weather did remind me of Portland. And, I had my new umbrella to keep me relatively dry.

The cherry blossoms haven’t awakened quite yet, but I’m hoping that they will make their presence known this week.