With the short Golden Week a trip to Akita was unfeasible. As a last minute plan I booked a kokumin shukusha - literally I guess "citizens' accommodation". Kokumin shukusha are scattered about the country and are run by either local governments or affiliated with national parks. We've stayed in them a couple of times before in Chiba and Iwate, and there's something both charmingly retro and ideological. We often joke about Japan being a communist country and in someways the kokumin shukusha epitomizes it.
Much like a minshuku the rooms tend to be Japanese style - tatami & futons, and have common bathrooms. The food is strictly Japanese style and doesn't pander to taste preferences. Thou shalt eat fish, though shalt have rice, there shalt be pickles. In spring there will be mountain vegetables; there will be sashimi and tempura and some kind of meat for dinner.
There's a quaint nostalgia in having government recreation areas; a benevolent government giving permission to the masses to go back to nature & relax. The first kokumin shukusha dates back to 1956, a time when Japan was on the up. The economy was recovering from the war and the idea of mass international travel for pleasure was unheard of. Time away in the countryside, communing with nature is an ideal way to recharge the batteries.
We had done no research & a bushwalk around the local area turned into a more adventurous expedition than expected.
|The kokumin shukusha Uramyogi|
|Well signposted walking paths|
|Steps at the beginning to lull visitors into a false sense of security|
that this was going to be how it was.
|The mountain in the distance should have been a clue.|
|And this.. (Mt Myogi)|
|But the track was well marked with yellow paint|
|Beautiful foliage that would be stunning come autumn.|
|Chains to climb up the steep rockface|
|Beautiful spring flowers on the way up|
|A sign clearly showing the way to the kokumin shukusha,|
the station and a hike to a waterfall 2 hours along the ridge.
|Yellow crosses warning not to take this route.|
I didn't tempt fate.
|A little stone shelter. If you look closely you|
can see a sake cup on the left. It was the only
thing resembling a shrine on the mountain. Maybe in
olden times it wasn't a mountain people had much reason to go up.
|Beautiful! Mt Asama with snow in the background.|
|If you look closely, there is a man on that rock eating his lunch.|
We climbed to there.
|hard core ropes.|
|We could have climbed to the very top, but were content with staying on the ledge one below.|
|It was a tough climb, but a beautiful view. The people on the ledge were a father and daughter. She|
was probably 10 and had remarkable resilience and an amazingly positive attitude to climbing.
|Magnificent - Mt Myogi|
|Mountain azaleas, elegant and understated.|
They lack the tartiness of their urban cousins.
I was using Hiro's mobile to take these since I forgot my
charging cable... Unfortunately this picture in particular
does no justice to the subject.
|Safely arrived back to the kokumin shukusha.|
It was good fortune & not good managment...
|Walking map of the area at the station|
|Walking map at the station|
|More walking suggestions|
|THe station. Yokokawa is the terminal station of the|
Shin'etsu line. The noodles next door were particularly good (and cheap).
I've had a tip from Allrite that the Usui Pass Railway Heritage Park in Yokokawa is worth
visiting. It's definitely an area worth going back to.