Sunday, September 03, 2006

Roamin' The Countryside

Today I decided to get off my still-jet-lagged butt and get out and see something before I turned into a pile of mush.

So I hopped in my car and headed west along the coast, all the way over to Oshamanbe. On my way into the center of town, I passed through Asahihama, a place where I had stopped and taken some photos last year.

There was a train station in Asahihama, but JR Hokkaido closed it down last fall because of the lack of riders. I was aware of said closure.

But imagine my shock when what had last year looked like this...

...had now become this.

Same thing here. Last year? This.

This year? This.

It was kind of sad to see.

But the waves in Eruption Bay were very beautiful to see, and you could see Toyoura, Date, and Muroran off in the distance.

I headed into town to grab some lunch. Oshamanbe is famous for its crabs, and there is a nationally famous boxed lunch (ekiben) with crab meat and rice you can get at the station there. I was hungry, so I stopped in and picked one up.

I'm not really sure why it's nationally famous. It was a bit bland, really. I like Tottori Station's crab sushi boxed lunch better. The best thing about it, besides the fact that it tastes pretty damn good, is that the box is shaped like a crab!

Moving on...

I debated heading south toward Hakodate, but it was already in the afternoon, so I decided to head north instead. I followed Rt. 5 and snapped some photos of old run-down trains stations along the way...

...like Warabitai Station. Taking photos out in the middle of nowhere can be a bit of an adventure, especially if you leave your car running. These things that look like a cross between horseflies and wasps tend to surround your car. I never saw the things in Shimane, but as you head further north in Japan, they tend to swarm around cars (when the engine is left running). With a little careful timing and a lot of luck, you can get back in your car without letting one in. Ugh, those things are nasty. (shudders)

A recommendation from my partner-in-crime, Jack, sent me off toward a hot spring in Niseko. After a bit of adventure (see also: My sorry ass got lost.) which had me going over a small mountain pass into the next town over, I finally found it.

Carp River Hot Springs.

It has the feeling of an old-style Japanese inn. The bath looks run-down, but the water is excellent. The open-air bath is absolutely fantastic. There's a waterfall you can look at as you bathe, which led to the bath being called The Waterfall-Gazing Bath. (Check out some pictures here.)

One weird thing about this place, though; there's a door into the hillside next to the parking lot.

Creepy stuff.

After the bath, I got back on the road. After a little bit of driving, I saw this.

Mt. Yotei. Man, that's a pretty mountain.

I cruised through Jack's old stomping grounds of Kyogoku Town and grabbed a drink of water at Fukidashi Park before heading home. Jack always talks about how great the water there is, but now I finally understand what he was talking about. The water is great, plus it's just shooting out of the hillside. This is not some little dribbling stream; this is a waterfall of pure, fresh water.

And then I drove home. Here's hoping this trip will help me get back into the swing of things.

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