Surprising Blue of Lake Tazawa

Surprising Blue of Lake Tazawa

[ Apr.2019 ] This time in Japan, we travelled to Akita Prefecture with our family.

It was in the middle of special Golden Week (from the end of April to early May, when there are many national holidays in Japan) with 10 consecutive holidays, so my family had booked everything far in advance.

We went to Morioka by Shinkansen Bullet Train and, from there, we moved north by a hired car.

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The honey shop with the double-decker

Our destination was Lake Tazawa.

It is northern Japan, but it was not as cold as we had expected and we could see the snow capped mountains and cherry blossoms from the car windows.

The roads were not busy at all and our family was saying “You can get these empty roads in the Golden Week only in Tohoku region (northern part of Honshu Island)”.

However, when we arrived at Yama no Hachimitsuya (a honey shop in the mountain), one of the tourist attractions around here, we found that it was crowded with many people.

As the name shows, it is a honey shop selling many kinds of honey, where you could taste them and buy them.

For some reason, they have a double-decker bus on their site and people can rest inside it.

The view from behind the shop was nice and peaceful with the snow mountains and the rice fields.

After the shopping, we moved to the Lake Tazawa itself.

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The pleasure boat of Lake Tazawa

When we arrived there, I realised that I had been here before.

When I had had a short holiday in Nyuto Onsen hot spring resort nearby with friends, we had visited the lake, too.

That had been winter and very quiet but now it was full of people.

We took the pleasure boat right away (1,200 yen per person, £8.7, €9.8, $11).

In the boat, there were information announcements all the time and the main thing I picked up was that Lake Tazawa is more than 400 metres deep, which makes it the deepest lake in Japan.

As a crater lake, it is the third deepest lake in the world.

It used to be the world’s highest degree of transparency, of 39 metres, but because they had let the nearby Tama river’s water flow in, it became less transparent and now it is about 8 metres.

There used to be many kinds of fish in the lake, but because the Tama river’s water was acidic, all the fish died.

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Blue water of Lake Tazawa with mountain view

Everything was interesting, but the most amazing thing was the blueness of the water.

The announcement in the boat called this blue “Persian Blue” and for me it was the colour of my blue agate ring.

The guidebook says simply “That is because the sun shines on the deep water”, but it is really just that?

My mother joked “This boat must be pouring a huge amount of Bathclin (popular Japanese bath salts with colours) to the lake”, but it is true that it was too strong a blue to be the natural colour.

There is a legend of Tatsuko here in the lake.

“The beautiful girl, Tatsuko, who lived in the nearby village, wanted to keep her beauty forever, so prayed to the Goddess of Mercy for eternal youth.

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The statue of Tatsuko

She prayed so hard that the Goddess eventually pointed to a spring deep in the mountain and told her to drink the water.

Tatsuko went there and started drinking the water but the more she drank, the more thirsty she became.

She drank it on and on and when she realised, she was no longer a girl but a dragon.

Ashamed of herself, she sank into Lake Tazawa and became the ruler of the lake.”

It is a unique story among many tragic legends of beautiful women.

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Quiet beauty of Lake Tazawa

There was a golden statue of Tatsuko on the lake, which was seen from the boat, though it was a woman rather than a dragon.

This boat trip was 40 minutes long.

When we came back to the pier, the sun was getting lower.

The surface of the lake was very quiet and the view was really beautiful.