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    • Day 49


      October 27, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      After another excellent breakfast at the hotel, we took taxis to Nikko JR Station, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and took a local train to Utsonomiya and then a Shinkansen to Ichinoeski. A minibus took us to the Hotel Musashibo in Hiraizumi.
      Lunch was at a local restaurant, the only one open in this very quiet town, and I ordered buckwheat soba noodles with wild mountain vegetables.
      We walked to the Chusongi Buddhist temple with the wonderful 900-year-old Golden Hall inside a building for protection. No photos were permitted.
      We hiked back to the hotel through a forest.
      I went to the public onsen at the hotel before dressing in a yukata gown for the Japanese set dinner. The bedroom had a tatami floor and futon bedding, the first I'd had for about 10 days.
      Hiraizumi was the furthest north in Honshu and Japan which I visited on this trip. The town was in the Tohoku region, the Chusongi temples being an important part of its heritage.
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    • Day 50


      October 28, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

      After a Japanese set breakfast, we took taxis to Hiraizumi Station to catch a local bus for the drive through the pleasant countryside to Geibikei.
      The first activity of the day was paper-making with a porridge liquid and then adding colours and leaves to make a pattern. The picture was labelled with me name and board-number and put outside to dry. They were forwarded to the Blossom Hotel in Tokyo in case we wanted to take them home but I'm unsure whether anyone did.
      We went to the Yugendo limestone cave which had been discovered in 1980. We alked through passageways and up and down stairs to see fossils and shrines.
      Taxis returned us to Geibikei where we ate our snack lunches besides the Satetsu River before boarding a punt to take us into the Geibikei Gorge There were beautiful autumn colours on the 120m cliffs. We saw a black kite, cormorants, and carp. The boatman sang a local song in the otherwise peaceful surroundings.
      Two local trains took us back to Hirazumi via Ichinoseki with a short walk from the station to the hotel in light rain.
      Dinner was another Japanese set meal dressed in our yukata gowns.
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    • Day 51

      Naruko Onsen

      October 29, 2023 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

      We left Hiraizumi in a large coach and stopped at a typical Japanese roadside supermarket which sold local produce amongst many other items, and at which there was an audience for a live monkey show which wouldn't be allowed in many other countries.
      We stopped at Naruko Onsen and went to Katanuma Crater Lake where there was the smell of sulphur emanating from small fissures. My trousers split as I bent down to test the warmth of the water in a stream. We walked around the lake and had lunch at a cafe.
      Then we went to a Kokeshi Dolls museum and workshop, one of many in this area, where we painted and kept our own doll after it had been machine-polished. I said that the design on mine was pre-Columbian from South America.
      We walked down the steps in the Naruko Gorge to see the lovely autumn colours. Being a Sunday, there were lots of Japanese there as well but noticeable few non-Japanese tourists who tended not to venture north of Tokyo.
      We went on a short walk along duckboards to to see steam and hot water exiting from volcanic vents. There were sieves for boiling eggs in the hot water.
      Finally, as the light was fading, we walked across the Naruko Dam. The scenery could have been in Scotland.
      There was an outdoor onsen at the Kameya Hotel, and dinner was another set Japanese meal
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Hiraizumi, 平泉

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