A mountain just for me!
From Morioka, there was an onsen (Amihari onsen) where I wanted to go, initially for an afternoon, but eventually I gave a call to check whether I could stay there overnight...and indeed, for a little over 10000 yen (100 dollars), I had the night, plus diner and breakfast...and, most important, unrestricted access to the onsen! It was significantly more expensive that the hotel I had first found, but between a hotel next to a train station and an onsen, the choice wasn't very hard to make. So, after filling my stomach with wanko-soba, I took the bus for Amihari onsen, without knowing anything about it except that it was renowned in the area.
I had a very pleasant surprise when the bus left the town and started to climb in the mountain, especially when I started to see snow! From then on, it became more and more beautiful and when the bus stopped at Amihari onsen, it was simply awesome...
I had a nice Japanese-style room, and the view was undoubtely much better that the one I would have had from the station hotel:
Here's the onsen-hotel, right at the bottom of the ski slopes:
Since I had almost the whole afternoon, I decided to climb, withouth really knowing how far I could go. Of course, the ski season is over so the chairlifts are not running, but on the other hand this guarantees that there's nobody up there...The weather was perfect, clear sky, no wind, good snow, optimal conditions.
Almost at the top of the chairlift, the view already gets better:
But it's not over:
A little higher, the view gets even more beautiful, and the impression of being immersed in the mountain gets stronger:
After a while, I came across a second chairlift:
It keeps climbing and there seems to be no end, but it's more and more beautiful:
The good (or bad, depending on the point of view) surprise is that, when I got to the top of the second chairlift, I realized there was a third one!
That was definitely the hardest part. I was already pretty tired from getting there, but not only did it get steeper, but the snow got also much softer and it was very hard to walk...but I knew I was close, so it was out of the question to give up at that point!
Upon reaching the top, the reward, a splendid view over the neighboring area and mountains:
But the best is to be alone in the middle of that...a fantastic impression that the mountain is yours...Also, from the top I could see the onsen source, at the bottom right:
The vapor and noise are impressive!...
When I got back to the hotel, I immediately went to the onsen. When I arrived in Japan, there were several things I wanted to do, notably to bathe in a rotenburo (open-air bath) in the middle of snow...But when winter was over, I thought I missed the opportunity and just gave up the idea. There's no way I would have imagined I would do it in april:
Absolutely awesome...It was so good that I stayed there one more night. The second day, I went to town to buy some souvenirs, apart from that I spent my time relaxing in my room or in that fabulous bath. I can't count how many times I bathed during those two days!
Everything has an end and I had to go back to Okazaki for school. As usual, it was hard to get back on track. I have excellent memories from that trip. The people I met, the things I saw, from the almost alien atmosphere of Tokyo to the quietness of the countryside...Still, I must say that my preference goes to Kyushu, where I went during the Christmas holidays...