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3-Day Model Trip Day3 / Higashiyama-onsen Spa - Ura Bandai - Inawashiro

Southern Tohoku

3-Day Model Trip Day3 / Southern Tohoku / Higashiyama-onsen Spa - Ura Bandai - Inawashiro

After yesterday's visits to historic places, today I changed the mood and headed for Ura Bandai, where you can enjoy a great natural environment.

First I went by bus to Inawashiro, and from the window enjoyed the majestic scenery of Lake Inawashiro-ko and Mt. Bandai. With a circumference of 55.32 m and an area of 103.9 m2, Lake Inawashiro-ko is the third biggest lake in Japan, and it is said to be one of the clearest lakes in the world. In summer it is a Mecca for sailboats and windsurfing, and in winter it is known for the swans that come flying in.

I changed buses at Inawashiro Eigyosho bus stop in front of Inawashiro Station, and headed for Bandai Kogen Station. This area is known as Ura Bandai ("Inner Bandai"), and was formed of a result of a large eruption of Mt. Bandai-san, after which the lava blocked up a river, thus forming lakes, swamps and wetlands. It forms a part of Bandai Asahi National Park. There are lots of hiking courses and hotels in the surrounding area, such as Hibara Kohan Tanshoro (Lakeshore Sightseeing Path), so you can become a hiker for a bit and enjoy a walk round the lakes and swamps.

When you get out of the bus at Bandai Kogen Station, Lake Hibara-ko is right in front of you. The twisting lakeshore is 40 km in length, making it the biggest lake in Ura Bandai. From April to November, a sightseeing boat runs between the islands in the lake, and in winter the lake is busy with people fishing for pond smelt. On this day, I decided to enjoy a walk of 3.7 km from Bandai Kogen Station along the Goshiki-numa Shizen Tanshoro (Nature Sightseeing Path).

Goshiki-numa Swamp is said to possess the greatest variety of all the lakes and swamps in Ura Bandai. It is the overall name given to a number of swamps ("numa") dotted throughout the forest, including Yanagi-numa, Ao-numa, Ruri-numa, Benten-numa, Midoro-numa, Aka-numa and Bishamon-numa. If you include small swamps, there are over 10 in total. As their names imply, the water of each swamp is a different color, and as you walk along the footpath through the forest, their fresh appearances - cobalt blue, emerald green - seem mysterious. Only lakes and swamps that have been produced by volcanic eruptions have water in this variety of colors. They look like this because the surrounding area contains minerals like iron and manganese, and the concentration of these varies according to the water of each lake. Moreover, the reflection of the sunbeam on the swamp surfaces also makes them look slightly different.

Because the path is relatively flat, it is possible to walk the course in 1 hour 20 minutes even if you take time on strolling. There are even benches on the way where you can rest. In particular, the resting area on the banks of Ruri-numa and the view spot at Bishamon-numa are great places to view Mt. Bandai. You can rent boats at Bishamon-numa, so it's fun to go for a row on this mysterious swamp. Near the bus stop at the entrance to Goshiki-numa Swamp is the Goshiki-numa Swamp Nature Study Center, where there are displays of photographs and georamas that explain the nature and history of the surrounding area.

Nearby, as well as the Bandai Three Lakes - Lake Hibara-ko, Lake Akimoto-ko and Lake Onogawa-ko - there is also Fudo-daki Waterfall. Here there are lots of things worth seeing, such as the clear water of Ono-gawa River, which falls from a height of 20 meters and is counted among the 100 Great Waters of Japan, and Nakatsu-gawa Valley, which descends sharply a total of 1,000 meters and produces lots of waterfalls, big and small. You can enjoy the appearance that changes in each of the four seasons.