In Japan, this past week was Golden Week, which I think is the biggest tourist season in Japan, likely due to its proximity to cherry blossom season. I've had the week off too, so I took a trip to somewhere I've wanted to go since I got to Japan: Aomori! What, you've never heard of it? It's at the northernmost tip of the main island of Honshu, and it's famous for tsugaru shamisen, apples, and one of the most beautiful sakura viewing spots in Japan, Hirosaki castle. On top of that, Golden Week falls directly on the cherry blossoms' full bloom in Aomori.
Also in the building was a store of nothing but apple products. Actually, there are a couple throughout the city. There's apple bear, apple wine, apple cider, apple juice, apple pie, apple ice cream, apple chips, and even just apples. If you know me, you know that apples are an important part of my diet, and it was great eating fuji apples from the source. ^_^
For lunch (a very late lunch), I tried miso curry milk ramen. I'll let you take that in for a second. Probably the weirdest combo I've ever heard of, but it turned out to be pretty good; not kitakata ramen good, but tasty nonetheless. I met my host after that, went to her apartment to drop of my stuff, and went to a different restaurant later that night which was a good hour walk from the place I stayed, wrapping up my first day.
There was a four person shamisen performance in Hirosaki station on the way back too, which was great for me, and I went to a small restaurant in Aomori after that. You had to almost crawl in through the door, but the food was delicious, the old lady working there was nice, helpful and energetic, and I got another shamisen show. This was the first of a few places I could enjoy only because I can speak and read Japanese. It pays to know the language when traveling in another country.
After we came back down on the other side of the mountains, I departed the bus in the middle of a really long nature trail leading towards the lake. The full trail is about 14km, but after the amount of walking I did for the two days preceding it, I was already a bit burned, so I only ended up walking about 5km. Even so, there were about nine or ten waterfalls along this trail following a scenic river. There were only a few people along the trail too, which was a great feeling after the crowding in Hirosaki. Again, the pictures don't quite do it justice, but that's just the way it is.
Towada Lake was nice, but the ferry didn't seem to be running, so I didn't get to take my boat ride when I finally reached the end of the trail. T_T I ended up just taking the bus back, getting some food and meeting my next host for the night.
Afterwards, I visited the tourist building again and saw another shamisen performance, saw a forest museum (which was actually really boring, but at least it didn't cost any money), and finally went on one of the ships sitting in the bay, the Hakkodamaru. It's a memorial ship with about four stories that's been turned into a museum of the port in Aomori. It's basically all in Japanese, and I actually talked with one of the museum guides in the bridge who knew about Aizuwakamatsu and even named the Byakko-tai! The final museum I went to was a history museum of Aomori from the earliest signs of humans living there to present day.
I also went out with my host from the previous night to try some Aomori sake and ginger miso oden at a restaurant before meeting my host for the next night who took me to a bar that his friend runs. It was a good time, and I even learned some Aomori dialect talking to them. It was mostly casual stuff like "butt" and "pervert" but that's usually more fun anyway.
In any case, the last day was the end of my trip and consisted of merely traveling back to Aizuwakamatsu. I stopped in Sendai (and thought I was going to miss my bus since the station is so big, and I couldn't find the right bus stop), and they were actually having a Pokemon thing going on, as you can see in the final picture. I wish I could have check it out, but I was dying to get back to Aizu after the trip, so I gave it a pass this time.