Intermittent rain during the night at Ura Bandai michi no eki. The morning is overcast and threatening. Ominous clouds hang over the mountains.
We plan a short walk by the coloured ponds of Goshikinuma. Rain is forecast from 11am. but we hope we can manage a brief hike before then. After we set off, the weather improves and we are walking in intermittent sunshine. The weather remains changeable and the wonderful coloured ponds are frequently dimmed by cloud cover.
This Goshikinuma hike is an excellent, easy walk (3.6km) for almost everyone. The path is mainly flat, the woods open and airy and the ponds a startling range of blues. The intensity of the colour depends on the light. On a bright day, the shades are stunning; on a damp, overcast morning, merely remarkable.
The ponds were formed by the collapse of this side of Mt. Bandai during the eruption in 1888. This landscape is, then, just over one hundred and thirty years old. Something to ponder as you pass through. The remarkable colours are due to the high mineral content in the water.
Altogether, well worth a bit of effort. The woods are full of birdsong and there are large carp in the first pond, (depending on which end you start from.) A round trip is favourite.
You can park at Urabandai Visitor centre or Goshikinuma-iriguchi Kanko Plaza on the Bishamon-numa (pond) side. The bus stop is Goshiki-numa Iriguchi. On the Yanagi-numa side park at Urabandai Bussankan. The bus stop is Urabandai Kogen eki.
Rengenuma to Nakasenuma
After Goshikinuma, we move on to Rengenuma. Here, there is a short walk around the pond and a longer one to the Nakasenuma viewing point. The latter hike is, really, essential.
The view from the point I described in a post of an earlier trip as one of the best views ever. That was in late Autumn with the leaves in glorious colour. This time is different, overgrown and green, but still a magnificent view for little effort.
However, on the way to this viewing point my foot slipped on something soft and slimy. I realized I had stepped in a relatively fresh bear turd. This brought home to me the fact that bears do, indeed, shit in the woods.
On our wary way back, we spot an Ooyoshikiri or Great Willow Warbler. An unmistakable, noisy bird.
We stopped at the visitor centre by Rengenuma. Here, a pleasant, helpful lady confirmed it was bear habitat and it was also common to see foxes. We had encountered one the previous evening.
The road to Kaneyama
After shopping in Aizu Wakamatsu, we set off for Niigata. As we climb into the mountains, the threatening clouds, hanging around all day, make good their menace in an absolutely, torrential downpour. It was difficult to see through the rain to drive and the water on the road surface was deep in places. This spectacular rain lasts for perhaps an hour but, at last, after hanging around all day, the clouds break for a watery sunset as we settle in for the night at Oku Aizu Kaneyama michi no eki.
After the rain, the mist rising off the river and hillsides produces some wonderfully, mysterious scenes.
The michi no eki slowly fills with shachuhaku vehicles as the evening wears on. It is Saturday night.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.