Noilly Prattle: Lake Yubara and Katsuyama

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lake Yubara and Katsuyama


Yubara Dam
     There is a dam visible from the thermal pools at Yubara Onsen which make a dramatic backdrop when you consider all the water being held back behind that dam. In spite of the relaxation induced by the hot water there is always that little what if (as in what if the dam breaks) in the back of your mind—not enough to induce paranoia but just enough to give a little spice of apprehension to the experience.

        In all the years since we started going to Yubara we had never gone up to the dam or seen the reservoir called Lake Yubara formed by damming the river. The dam is very high and consequently the lake is extensive. A satellite or map view looks like a monster with a long pigtail. We learned that there is a road across the dam and a long winding road that parallels the southern shore of the lake as well as a nature park. We decided to drive up to the dam and have a look at the lake and do some walking in the nature park after checking out of our ryokan.

Map: Lake Yubara

nature park entrance
and spattered Demi
Lake Yubara
        After a rainy previous day the weather was improving and the sun was breaking through the clouds promising a nice day. We crossed the dam and drove to the nature park which is situated on a peninsula and has a nice viewpoint. The park was deserted and the walking path proved to be very hilly but doable. As we climbed up towards the end of the trail we saw a viewing platform sitting on the crest of a rather steep incline that had to be negotiated on steps that were covered with wet slippery leaves. The view from the platform wasn't particularly dramatic or spectacular, just a nice mix of air, earth and water with an occasional touch of fire when the sun peeped out from behind a cloud. Coming down the wet slippery steps proved dicier than going up, but accomplished without mishaps.

platform with a scenic view
(if you can reach it)

the view from the platform (we reached it)



antique sewing machine
Mickey D inspiration? noren
         After leaving the nature park we drove along the lake for several kilometers and then veered south to return to the Asahi River and along the river to the city of Katsuyama which has preserved an old merchant area. The area is interesting for a couple of reasons: the unique (暖簾) noren* on the shops, and an old boat canal that was used to supply the merchant's shops. The shops therefore back onto the river and front onto the street that parallels the river.

auto repair shop noren

bicycle shop noren

post office noren
tea shop nore

*Noren are traditional Japanese fabric dividers, hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways, or in windows. They usually have one or more vertical slits cut from the bottom to nearly the top of the fabric. Noren are rectangular and come in many different materials, sizes, colors, and patterns. Exterior noren are traditionally used by shops and restaurants as a means of protection from sun, wind, and dust, and for display of the shop name or logo. [Wikipedia]

Katsuyama preserved merchant street

rear of merchant shops on Asahi River boat canal

No comments: