A is for Apple - and Aomori Part III

Third and final installment.

Continued from A is for Apple - and Aomori and A is for Apple - and Aomori Part II...

After spending the morning in Oirase Gorge, we went to the lakeside town of Yasumiya and found a nice restaurant that served soba (buckwheat noodles) with wild mountain vegetables.  Oishikatta desu!  (It was delicious.)

We walked along the shore to the statue of  two maidens by Kotaro Takamura.   Then inland to Towada Shrine, built in the 9th century.

I love the dragons which provide the water for the purification fountains of Shinto shrines.

K then bought tickets for a boat that would take us along the south shore of the lake and area where the Tachikawa bomber-trainer we had seen at Misawa Aviation Museum had ditched in 1943.  The tour boat business has been under bankruptcy protection in the aftermath of the Great Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011.  I hope enough people decide to bring them business again.  The area is just as interesting and as beautiful as ever and there is no reason to stay away.

The boat leaves Yasumia and follows the shore around the Nakayama-hanto Penninsula into the deep caldera called Lake Naka-ko (where the airplane ditched), then returns.  The Towada Prince location is on the west shore.

Pandabonium's On Towada album on Photobucket

Towada is one of the clearest lakes in Japan.  Looking down through a few meters of water at the aquatic plants on the bottom I was reminded of Lake Tahoe on the border between California and Nevada.

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On her fourth and final day at the doggie hotel, Momo the Wonder Dog was apparently enjoying her walk.

A picture like that makes us feel happy that she is OK and more comfortable about being away from her.

After a wonderful "Viking Style" breakfast (as such buffets are called in Japan - as if the Vikings ever had it so good) we went for a walk along the shore then up hill and across the highway to find a bell tower.  The automatic bell instrument was a gift from Germany to the people of Japan as a symbol of friendship.  It took some finding as it set amid a forest.  We checked out of the hotel and  drove around the north side of the lake on our way back to Hachinohe City, a route which takes one to higher elevations and some beautiful overviews of the lake.

Pandabonium's last day towada album on Photobucket

On the way down the mountain, stopping to top off the gas tank, I snapped this pic of a farmer with his diminutive tractor at the gas pump talking on his cell phone.   Old ways and new ways found together in modern day Japan.  Let's hope the former are not lost as we will need them as fossils fuels become more and more expensive, making such things as tractors, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and even cell phones more costly - not to mention the cost of importing food from far away.

Returning the car to Hachinohe City, we bought bento lunches in the train station for the ride home and boarded our bullet train for the 3 hour trip to Tokyo.  While there is some nice scenery in between, the first fifteen minutes of the ride is mostly tunnels, so I just closed the window shade for a while.

Harvested rice paddies.  Somewhere in Iwate Prefecture.

From Tokyo it was an hour and fifteen minute ride on a highway express bus to  Itako City, next to our home town of Kashima City, and then an hour by car to pick up Momo at Lake Hinuma. A long day to be sure.

It was a fast paced trip, but we managed to take in quite a lot.    After a journey, it's always good to come home to familiar things, relax, and think about what one has experienced.   Momo was glad to see us and obviously happy to get home as well.

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Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.


My New Green

I found this at a farmers market the last time we took Momo the Wonder Dog to the beach park. (Will post about that later). Then, I found it being carried by a grocery store closer to home.

It's called tah tsai (thank you Martin) or brassica campestris var narinosa. Anyway, what appealed to me was its rich, dark green color and rugose leaves (deeply wrinkled). It just seemed to shout "super nutrition"!

The ones I get are grown across lake Kitaura from us - just 5 kilometers away.  Eating local.

A lot of people add it to a stir fry or put it in soup, but I like it raw in a salad with other nutritious greens like chingensai (a kind of bak choy), beans, and veggies (like paprika and broccoli). Sometimes with plants like this or spinach I lightly "water fry" them.  One of the great things about a plant based diet is that you can mix and match whatever you have.  Nothing complicated about it.

Isn't it gorgeous?

Update: photo of lunch on Monday with tah tsai in the salad:

 Soba (buckwheat noodles), tsuyu and water with negi (leek) for dipping, and a dessert K often makes from sweet potato, apple, and raisins cooked in soy milk. Sorry I didn't display everything better, but I was hungry!

I make my own salad dressing now so I can avoid oil (read empty calories that also have a really bad effect on one's arteries) and sugar and salt which are so often found in commercial dressings. Here's a recipe I got from Dr. Joel Fuhrman of DiseaseProof.com .

Orange Cashew Dressing

1 orange, peeled and seeded
2 tablespoons (30 ml) raw cashews
(I soak them for a few hours to make them easier to blend)
1 tablespoon (30 ml) of Dr. Fuhrman's Blood Orange Vinegar
(I use balsamic vinegar here)
1 carrot, grated
orange juice (optional)
lemon juice (optional)

Just blend the ingredients in a high powered blender until smooth and creamy. Add some orange or lemon juice to thin dressing, if necessary.   The cashews give it a creamy taste and the vegetable fat in them helps your body get more of the nutrients from your salad.


I definitely want to try growing tah tsai next year.