Lake Towada Winter Festival

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It snowed like crazy AGAIN in Aomori this week! It reminded me of the festival I went the other day. Using the bus to get to Towada from Aomori-city was the first time for me, and I could find some information which can be helpful for English-speaking tourists.

First, head to JR Aomori station and find the bus stop #8.

You are getting on the bus Mizuumi(Time Schedule in English), which is running two times a day.

  

 JR bus is partly painted in blue, and has a swallow picture on it.

I didn’t know Japan Rail Pass holders can get on the all JR buses for free….very reasonable.  It cost me 3,000yen to buy a one-way bus ticket.(2-day-pass is 4600yen) .  Bus Mizuumi stopped at Mt. Hakkoda RopewayStation, and I saw some foreign tourists getting off at that station to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. 

You hear the announcement both in Japanese and English, which is kinda rare for local buses in Aomori.

Before arriving at Lake Towada, you will drive along the famous scenery spot called Oirase Gorge, the stream issues from the lake and scattered many waterfalls around the area.   Oirase Gorge draw many visitors in early summer and fall, but you can appreciate the solemn beauty of frozen waterfalls in winter.   The driver kindly stopped at some beautiful points to let the passengers enjoy the view and to be able to take pictures from the window.  

 

 It took about 3 hours to get to Lake Towada.  The sunset was also beautiful.

Right after getting off the bus, I saw the first snow statue in Towada.  But I felt a slight shock to see it.

Thomas?    You look somehow……different.

I don’t know what happened to him.   Maybe coming all the way from England made him emaciated….poor Thomas.

Anyways, the festival was from 7:00pm, and the shuttle bus of the hotel I stayed drove me to the entrance of the festival.

 Entrance

  Snow Walls

 Igloo Sake Bar

In the Igloo Sake Bar, you can enjoy drinking sake in kotatsu (a heated table with a thick blanket cover). Kotatsu represents warmth, happiness and comfortableness in winter for Japanese, and once you sit in, it gets so hard to get out.  So I thought this was kinda fun, but to be honest, I had an uneasy feeling because I had never sit in kotatsu with putting my shoes on in my life…..

I said I felt guilty wearing shoes in kotatsu, but didn’t mean I wanted to put my shoes off in the winter festival!    However some brave people were enjoying outside foot bath after taking their socks and shoes off. 

Outside Foot Bath

  

 

What I liked the most and felt it had a warming effect was a hot wine.  When you buy it with 500yen, you get a small glass, and then you can get free refills out of three wine booths which prepare differently flavored hot wine respectively.

   

While drinking hot wine, you can enjoy the Shamisen Live Consert. (Shamisen is a musical instrument similar to a banjo)

…or enjoy (white) banana boat. Although I don’t think you can hold the wine glass safely while riding on this boat.  Red wine leaves a stain…

In the food section I found rolled up and skewered sausages. I thought they were like lollipops, but the name was “tornado sausage”.  There were plenty of Aomori local  food, Japanese food and even foreign food you can enjoy(I had bubble tea – originally from Taiwan).

The climax of the festival is fireworks!  Unfortunately my camera battery died when I started to take pics of beautiful fireworks, so this is the only picture I felt ok to share.

On the whole, I enjoyed this festival.  I was lucky that it didn’t snow at all, but if it did, I might have had the different impression. If you ever have a chance to come to this festival, check the weather forecast and avoid the brizzard!

Lake Towada Winter Festival

Annual Festival held from beginning of  February to end of February  

Place: Yasumiya, the shore of Lake Towada

Admission Fees: Free

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