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.
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~
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.
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.
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…
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!!!
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.