Saturday, October 11, 2003

Oct. 2, 1993.

Day at Lake Akan. Up early, Japanese breakfast, then took a boat out on the lake. Not much development along the shore -- not any -- except for the resort town. The trees were mostly still green, with a few other colors mixed in. Stopped at an island in the lake (it's a concept I like — an island in a lake on an island). Saw the marimo exhibits. They are alga balls, very green, the size of big marbles, and native to Akan and a few other places. They are sold in all the junk shops in town, submerged in little glass containers, for your mantle when you get back home. I have had one a while, before I ever came here -- Ed and Lynn gave it to me before returning to the United States; a student had given it to them.

Returned to town and rented bicycles for a ride down to the two little lakes. A fine ride, a cool and partly cloudy day, a gentle wind, and a bike path separate from the road -- so no problems with cars. We parked the bikes and hiked 15 minutes or so to the first lake -- wish I had better shoes, since the path was steep and muddy at times, but we made it. Didn't find the trail to the second lake, though we could see the lake far away, downhill and through a thick expanse of trees.

Returned to town and took a little walk to the hot mud sulfur pool -- bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, a one-note natural phenomenon -- at the edge of Lake Akan. Interesting, if smelly. Walked along the shore and caught sight of a rainbow arching over the opposite side of the lake. It had turned colder by this time, and a wind was up. Clouds but no rain. The thousand weeds along the shore danced to a whistling wind, which also dissipated the heat of the sun behind us.

We still weren't quite finished. It was still light, after all. We retraced our steps through town to the "Ainu village," which was a cluster of more tourist shops at shoulder season (summer is peak in Hokkaido, of course). One place advertised Ainu food, so we went in. We had a rice cake with fish eggs, and a kind of fried potato and rice mixture that the proprietor claimed was common in Peru. (Peru?) It was blackish in color and mild tasting.


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