Japan trip: Goshikinuma ponds – Beauty and mud.

 

At the 1st pond of Goshikinuma~

 

All veggie bento lunch on Shinkansen. The horse chestnut and inari beancurd pieces were tasty~

All veggie bento lunch on Shinkansen. The horse chestnut and inari beancurd pieces were tasty~

I set off for Kooriyama via Shinkansen and transferred to the JR Ban-Etsu line which goes past Mount Bandai (Inawashiro station) to Aizu-Wakamatsu station. It’s a wonderful ride because one can enjoy the scenery of thickly forested mountains and rice fields from the train itself. I alighted at Inawashiro station to find a very sleepy town, almost ghostly… From there, I took a half an hour bus ride (abt SGD 18 for one way) to the Goshikinuma ponds. More Mt Bandai to see as the bus winds up the mountain.

After reaching the Goshikinuma visitor center, I set off on the nature trail which the JNTO pdf promised to be 1hr long. First stop was the largest, bluest pond, Bishamon numa.

Giant koi fighting for a bite of prawn crackers

Giant koi fighting for a bite of prawn crackers

It’s waters are a brilliant turquoise and I could see giant koi swimming around, fighting with the ducks for prawn crackers thrown by visitors. The weather was perfect too. Sunny but cool~

Another pond along the muddy trail~

Another pond along the muddy trail~

I searched for the nature trail and found the sign ‘hiking trail’. The trail was a narrow, muddy and entangled with tree roots… (-_-) I began to regret wearing flip flops and a dress.

Yellow and orange colored ponds

Yellow and orange colored ponds

So off I went, gingerly steeping over jagged rocks, mud and tree roots. The mud is thick and sticky. The wetter mud is worse because my flip flops would slap bits of mud onto the back of my legs. After alot of squishing and slapping, one of the hikers remarked that my legs were all spotty. On hindsight, the Goshikinuma hike was really fun if I’d worn hiking boots instead of flip flops. It’s quite a gross feeling to have one’s feet sinking into the thick mud and the mud getting in between your toes.My black flipflops have just dried and they are brown from the dried soil I picked up from Goshikinuma trail. Eewww…. I had no choice but to dump them in the hotel trash bin.

The cool running stream where I washed my feet in

The cool running stream where I washed my feet in

Aaaargh!!!Its so cold, I cant feel my feet!!!

Aaaargh!!!It's so cold, I can't feel my feet!!!

Even salary man visits the ponds...erm...to read business news..

Even salary man visits the ponds...erm...to read business news..

Kirei da!!! I wanted to exclaim with the kids when we found this brilliant turquoise pond

Kirei da!!! I wanted to exclaim with the kids when we found this brilliant turquoise pond

I love the hiking experience despite the muddy and slippery trails. The colorful ponds were beautiful. Even the bunch of elementary school kids in their banana yellow hats were gasping “Kirei da!!!”, which means pretty in Japanese. The fellow japanese hikers were friendly and one of them even advised me to join them by a clear, flowing stream. The water was freezing cold but very refreshing! My legs were shaking after I stepped out of the stream with squeaky clean feet. Unfortunately, it’s back to the mud again…

Brilliantl blue sky and pond~

Brilliantl blue sky and pond~

I also met a very nice old couple who chatted with me. The wife Noriko was very friendly and we took the bus down from the Bandai Ura bus stop back to the entrance of Goshikinuma ponds where they alighted. I continued my bus ride back to Inawashiro station where I stopped by a sleepy cafe to have curry rice for lunch; which is delicious!!!

Delicious curry rice (abt SGD 8)

Delicious curry rice (abt SGD 8)

 I think it’s beef stew curry with melt-in-your-mouth potato. I took the train back to Sendai where I slept like a pig in preparation for the trip to Sapporo the next day.

My favourite red bean + margerine 'koppe'-bun which I eat in Sendai everyday. A pair of red bean 'manjuus' and souvenirs
My favourite red bean + margerine

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7 Comments

Filed under Travelling:Outstation

7 responses to “Japan trip: Goshikinuma ponds – Beauty and mud.

  1. Weiting

    Sounds a “yucky” muddy experience…anyway, really looking forward to your sapporo report ^^…I would really love to travel there…any chance of visiting MJ’s “White Love” MTV site?…actually, I have no idea which part of Sapporo…hehe:D

  2. brandon

    Hi, I just read your article about your visit to Goshiki-numa. I’m planning to visit that and Sendai in winter, mid-December this year. Am I to understand that the only route available for seeing the ponds is just muddy path? There’s no proper walk way? Also, any idea what it’s like in winter?
    Thanks and looking forward to your sharing.

    • Hi brandon,

      Here’s what I know.
      The paths are mostly au naturel. All wet soil and no paved roads.
      I’m not sure whether the ponds will still be as colourful or even safe during winter but given the freezing temperatures in the northern regions of Japan … … I guess all there is to see are pools of ice?
      Perhaps it’d be better if you focus on well-known winter destinations like Niigata or Hokkaido and try out some winter sports.
      You can check out Gaijinpot or Japanguide.com for your travel research and get some advice from the forum members in there.
      All the best and hope your visit in Japan will be even more enjoyable than mine! ^^

  3. Mary

    I am going to Goshikinuma lake this Oct, wondering if you can help me on how to get there?

    • Hi Mary,

      I assume that you would be travelling to Goshikinuma from Tokyo by rail? (The most affordable and convenient transport in Japan so far ^^)
      Whether travelling with a Rail Pass or not, getting the train tickets is easy. Simply tell the JR Midoriguchi counter staff that you want to go to JR Inawashiro and they will provide the necessary tickets.
      The challenging part is getting to the right platform, making the train transfers and showing the right ticket to the train conductor when he comes checking. Prior to your journey, it helps to write down the destination, train name, departure time, platform number and car number for your reference. (Eg ●JR Tokyo to JR Koriyama, Yamabiko Max, 9am, Platform 9, Car No. 7 ●JR Koriyama to JR Inawashiro, Ban Etsu Sai, 11.05 am, Platform 2, Free seating)

      From JR Tokyo(東京) , take the Shinkansen (Tsubasa,Yamabiko) to JR Koriyama(郡山) in Fukushima along the Tohoku line. Transfer to the Ban-Etsu West(磐越.西) Line train which will take you to JR Inawashiro (猪苗代)station.

      The total train journey takes about 2 hours.
      At JR Inawashiro, take the Bandai Toto bus (磐梯東都バス) to the Goshikinuma Iriguchi(五色沼入り口) where you will alight at the entrance to the Goshikinuma Ponds. The bus ride takes about 30 mins. If you see a loghouse, you’re in the right place. Remember to take the ticket when you board the bus and deposit both fare and ticket into the coin box before you alight.
      In summary, the route is:
      JR Tokyo -(via Shinkansen Yamabiko/Tsubasa)→JR Koriyama -(via Ban Etsu Line train)→JR Inawashiro -(via Bandai Toto Bus)→ Goshikinuma Ponds Entrance

      Hope it helps!

      Cheers,
      arzen

      • Mary

        Thousand apologies for the late response.
        Of cos it helps, alot ^^Thks

        Do you have the timetable for the bus to 五色沼入り口and back to Inawashiro Station? I found the webpage but could not deciper it.

        I do know I need to board the bus at 磐梯Kogen eki to return to Inawashiro.

        I am really looking forward to my trip to Goshikinuma this 28Oct. Keeping my fingers cross for good weather!!

        Cheers
        Mary

  4. Dear Mary,
    Sorry for the late response!
    The bus timetable is pretty unfriendly for foreign tourists.

    From JR Inawashiro to Urabandai Royal Hotel->http://www.totobus.co.jp/bandai/images/inaroi.pdf

    The start time and location begins at the top of each column. In this timetable, all journeys begin at JR Inawashiro and end at Urabandai Royal Hotel(裏磐梯ロイヤルホテル). The departure times from JR Inawashiro are 5.10am, 6.35 am, 7.15am … …17.45pm and 18.50pm. The arrival times at Urabandai Royal Hotel are 5.33am, 7.00am … …
    18.08pm and 19.23pm respectively.
    The timetable does not show the Goshikinuma Iriguchi stop but the TV panel in the bus does. The bus ride takes about 25 mins.

    From Urabandai Royal Hotel to JR Inawashiro ->http://www.totobus.co.jp/bandai/images/roiina.pdf
    Similarly, the departure times from Urabandai Royal Hotel is 7.52am (2nd column), 8.57am … … 19.25pm and 20.05pm. The 1st column is for school kids hence ignore it. All rides will arrive at JR Inawashiro station at 8.27am, 9.32am … …19.50pm and 20.30pm respectively.

    Here is a map of the Goshikinuma hiking trail which starts at the Goshikinuma Iriguchi on the right and ends at the Urabandai Kogen eki on the left. -> http://www.urabandai-vc.jp/?page_id=406
    If you put the cursor over the points, the photo of each pond will appear.

    Hope these information helps. Don’t think there’s any need to worry as the locals are very friendly and helpful. (^_^) That summer, I did not even plan to visit the ponds until the night before. So no worries, you’ll definitely have a wonderful experience without the fear of getting lost. And the autumn weather is just perfect~

    Cheers,
    arzen

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