Looking at the Tohoku region on a Japanese map, you can spot a mysterious lake surrounded by the three prefectures of Akita, Aomori, and Iwate. When I first heard the name of the lake, “Towada”, it gave me an impression of a hidden destination, maybe because of the way it sounds exotic to a Japanese ear, or maybe it simply comes from the fact lying at the northern edge of the Honshu island. Lake Towada’s name comes from the language of Ainu, the indigenous ethnic group originally having settled in Hokkaido and the Tohoku. “To” meaning “lake” and “Watara” meaning “rocks” became “Towatara (lake surrounded by rocks)”, eventually changing its sound to today’s name. This time, I decided to visit the Western shore side of this mysterious Lake Towada.
After a two and a half hours drive from Akita city, the surface of the lake finally showed up from behind the hills, changing its color mysteriously from a deep blue to emerald green and pearl pink. On a sunny morning in July, the observatory was crowded with tourists from Asian countries.
“The wind blowing from the east during this season is called ‘Yamase’ and is actually damaging the crops and vegetables with its cold”. While taking a walk along the lakeshore surrounded by beech trees, the guide told us about the source of the cool temperature. We walked down by the promenade where the sound of silence followed us, which made me forget about the rest of the outer world.
A cool breeze of early summer gently wraps our daily fatigues, the shadows of the leaves dancing on the ground, and the sound of the waves whispering into our ears like a lady’s soft humming. A strong smell of the ground sneaks into our senses, and the dancing leaves tell us just to leave all words and relax.
Occasionally the trees vanish and space opens up to the lake and the sky, and we get enchanted by the changing gradation of the color of the waves.
TEL 0186-29-3908（Kosaka Town Office, Division of Tourism）
After a walk of less than an hour, we headed to a small cafe nearby. The lovely wooden hut, the sky blue lake and the green of the mountains together make a scene from a picturebook. The name of the cafe “Marine Blue”, although being by a lake, appears adorable in our relaxing eyes.
Sitting back on the deck floating my random thoughts on the surface of the lake, a dome-shaped apple pie arrived on the table. Immediately bringing one of its piece into the mouth, the rich taste of butter and apple spread on the tongue. It was so delicious that I would need nothing else than this and the peaceful silence of the lake.
After a moment of rest, let’s get closer to the lake. How about getting on an adventure with a luxury speed boat for up to 12 passengers? The moment it took off, a mass of wind hit my whole body. With a violent acceleration, the boat slumps and dances on the waves, which made us shout at first, but then made us feel flying on the surface of the lake like the birds.
A witty guide took us around the shores of the lake with stories about the history of Towada. Feeling like in an amusement park, we hopped from one place to another, from a jungle-like creek surrounded by the woods to rocky caves with small shrines and monuments.
Towada has long been known as a sacred place, and during the Edo period, there were even the hidden Christians having secret gatherings around the lakeshore. Moving from one spot to another, my mind started wondering over the history and the lives of the people that used to live here in the past.
The geometric patterns on the cliffs surrounding the lake are products of the volcanic activities in ancient times. After a 50 minute tour, I became used to the speed of the boat that I started standing on its tip, spreading my hands against the wind.
If you want to experience Towada to its full extent, how about spending a night surrounded by the warmth of Akita cedarwood? Towada Hotel offers a unique atmosphere with its wooden buildings and its 80 years history, as it was originally built for the “never happening Tokyo Olympics” that was once planned during the pre-WW2 period. Passing through the entrance hall, the magnificent cedar work across the building overwhelms the guests, The hotel even welcomed the Showa Emperor during his reign. “There is no single interior of each room that is the same. That shows the commitment of the craftsmen who built this hotel”, the staff told us proudly while guiding us inside the building. Then, I found a wild beech tree being immersed in one of the walls on the hallway. As some trees spread their roots on rocks, it appeared to be a sign of a culture symbolized by this hotel rooting on the nature of this land.
The lake can be seen from all the rooms, but the corner room has the best view where you can feel like lying right by the lakeshore while staying in your room. You may enjoy the relaxing time watching the gradation of the lake and showering the morning sunshine from the mountains.
Starting the day trip invited by the sound of its name “Towada”, I left the mysterious lake enchanted with various feelings in my mind. Excitement, relaxation, silence, sweetness, those feelings changed its color moment by moment like the surface of the lake.