Monday 15th October
Hello, have you wondered where we had been. We have been nearing the top of Honshu, in a place called Tazawako. No wi-fi to be had at that hotel so this is being typed in Tokyo. Hooray finally we have wi- fi, but Tokyo's later. What have we been doing the last two days.
We left Utsunomiya around 10:30 on the Yamabiko to Sendai. While we were waiting for the train to arrive two non-stop Shinkansens flew through the station. Phew, no slowing down there, the noise and buffeting wind as they went by was amazing. you'd have no chance getting out of the way of one of them. Then a double train pulled in, two shinkansens attached to each other, very unusual, or so we thought. another came in and then our train was the same.
We Arrived in Sendai at 11:33 with our connecting train due to leave at 11:38. Five minutes with the way we get around the stations was not good news so we were at the train door ready to run. As I hit the platform found the next train we needed, Komachi, and it was on the other side of the platform we were on. Cool. No need to go up and down escalators. It was also a double train. When we stopped at Morioka station the two trains separated and the one we were on went left. to Akita and the other further up the Honshu. They made several announcements about the trains splitting and making sure you were in the right cars. We stepped out to watch the trains being separated but it was already done, so we quickly hopped back on in case we got left behind. Arrived Tazawako at 1pm and straight away you knew you were in a town that had been used in the Korean movie Iris. Now not many of you would know the movie but Chris, Erica and myself watched it and really enjoyed it, a kind of North/South Korea spy, thriller, love story. The main reason we came to Tazawako was to see the golden girl statue, Tatsuko, which featured in the movie and was where the lovers, Hyun Joon and Seung Hee embrace. We did not realise how many places here and in the surrounding areas were used and how big it still was.
Booked our onwards tickets and tried to see about upgrading to the Green Cars (first class) just to experience the difference. The guy behind the counter looked very surprised but worked it out - over 19,000 yen extra for two ($230). I don't think so, that's really expensive. The difference between first and economy in KTX in Korean was only $40.
The station had an Iris Museum, which we planned to return to as our bus was due to leave. Number 1 bus does a 20km circuit around Lake Tazawa and our hotel, Tazawako Rose Park Hotel, was at the ten km mark and the only hotel on that side of the lake. But it was 200m from the statue. Took about half an hour to get to hotel along narrow two lane roads with 30/40 speed zones, very pretty area though.
We were an hour early to book in but they let us in. Hotel seemed very quiet. It is only open from April to mid- November and I'd say we were definitely outside the busy time. Our room was on the top floor, floor 6, with a perfect view across the lake ( Japan's deepest lake at 423.4m)
Went off to see Tatsuko and the Ukiki Shrine, next to it. It was also used in the movie but featured as a different location, where Hyundai Joon talks to the North Korea girl, Sun Hwa who's been tracking and trying to kill him.
We then did our usual trick of finding a set of steps somewhere, these were going up the hill side and we followed them. No idea where we were heading but found a concrete shelter and birch broom so naturally flying poses took place.
Follow the trail to what appeared to be holiday homes and then down a winding road to the entrance. Sign at the bottom said it was a kilometre to Tatsuko statue so at least we knew where we were. It was getting very cold and across the road was a fruit shop and inside it had an open grill for toasting chestnuts. We did not linger too long knowing it would be to much to bear to go back outside. Very refreshed we return in time for some sunset shots of Tatsuko and then back to get ready for our dinner sitting at 6pm.
Only one other couple in the dining room and they were having Japanese style dinner and were in and out quite quickly. We had western and it was 4 courses and coffee and absolutely delicious, oishi. This must be what it feels to be wealthy and buy out the whole hotel.
No evening walk tonight as it was far too cold.