Thursday, May 13, 2010

Canoeing on Biwako

After climbing Akasakayama we stayed at a small family  pension next at the north end of Lake Biwa. The owners organise canoe trips on the lake in the summer and snow shoe tours in the winter. When we booked online through Rakuten it appeared that the canoe trip was included in the price. I could not understand how they could manage this. It seemed too good to be true; and it was. The canoe hire was extra and not particularly cheap. But when we booked the pension we had no particular intention of going canoeing, and we booked at the last minute in probably the busiest season of the year in Japan. In the end we had a great time, so it worked out extremely well.

The pension "Rudder" was a log cabin at the back of a boat yard with just 4 rooms.

The owner said that they had only had one boat turn over in 11 years but even so I left my dSLR in the car we went canoeing and took a point-and-shoot instead. I only took a few photos on the lake and after using the dSLR they seem a bit noisy.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Climbing Akasakayama near lake Biwa

At the end of the Golden Week holiday we spent a night near the top of Lake Biwa in Shiga prefecture, the largest lake in Japan. The weather was like a perfect summer, warm but without the humidity and mosquitos which blight the summer in Japan.

Akasakayama is an 800m mountain close to Biwako in an area popular for skiing in the winter.Even thought the campsite at the bottom of the trail was crowded very few people were actually climbing up the steep path. It is only 3.7km from the car park to the top but there is 600m of climbing so it is fairly steep. The initial parts have steps as shown in the picture. Further up the path follows a small stream.

I miss climbing in England where the hills rarely have trees so you have a good view as you climb. Most Japanese mountains are covered in trees so you only occasionaly get glimpses of the view from the mountain. Such as this back towards the lake with the campsite just visible at the bottom of the picture.

The other thing in Japan is that it seems impossible to escape from transmission towers. Almost every hill seems to have a line of them marching across it.

Finally the summit;
Then back down to have a hot bath in the Onsen at the bottom.

100m Kite

At the start of the Golden Week holiday we went to the Heijo palace site in Nara  where they are holding festivities to celebrate the 1300 year aniversary of Nara. There was a kite flying competition and one of the kites was this 100m long kite with lots of small kites spaced about 1m apart along the line.