Hot spring baths and ryokan
Aomori Airport greets us with a light dusting of snow. Tradition runs deep in Tohoku, a region known for its mountains and ski slopes, and the landscape is even more magical underneath a white blanket of powder. The region comprises six prefectures – Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata – so there’s plenty of natural beauty and cultural wonders to explore. A must- do on any trip to the Land of the Rising Sun is to visit a traditional ryokan (Japanesestyle inn). We stay in Hotel Towadaso, right next to the tranquil beauty of Lake Towada. The snow- coated trees are reflected in its icy depths, and the scenery is so peaceful it’s hard to imagine this dual crater lake was formed by an enormous volcano eruption!
Being in Japan really hits me when I open the door to my Japanese-style room, complete with tatami (woven-straw) floor and futon bed. I dress in my yukata robe and head down to the outdoor hot spring ( onsen) to cleanse and unwind after the flight. Dinner is a traditional Japanese meal at Oirase Restaurant, which I devour wearing my yukata. This evening is undoubtedly the highlight of the trip.
Families keen to experience traditional culture will be fully immersed into the Japanese way of life at the hotel, but there are a plethora of options for literally soaking up the customs in one of the nation’s more than 3000 onsen. Bubbling up beneath the earth, these warm waters must contain one of 19 minerals and be naturally warmer than 25 degrees Celcius to be classified as an onsen. Kids will love learning about the rituals of cleansing before jumping into the warm outdoor bath although it really resembles more of a pool.
The region is home to many of these, thanks to the overabundance of volcanoes, and we visit one almost every day of our trip. Sukayu