This morning we ate fruit, cereal, and granola before setting out for Mount Azuma. We took the Aizu Bandi Skyline (highway) for some beautiful but quite frightening driving in the mountains. A couple hours of hair-pin turns and sulfur smelling air later, we ended up at Mount Azuma. It’s a large (dormant?) volcano crater in the midst of a gorgeous mountain range. We walked around the crater, against some very serious winds. Karen hated heights, and so didn’t make the crater rim hike, but it’s probably smart on her part… with the wind and loose gravel, we all had a good amount of adrenaline pumping. I’ve got many pictures I’m going to try to splice into a panorama sometime, and several that didn’t make the cut… but some are posted and even a couple of movies are uploaded.. the movies are horrible though, because of the wind, I couldn’t keep the camera even close to steady.
After the mountain, we drove another (less) frightening 1.5 hours to Aizu Tsuruga-jo Castle. It’s a recreated feudal Japanese castle turned into a museum on Japanese history. There was tons of great history on display, but all of it was in Japanese – so it was mildly frustrating. We made it to the top of the castle and got a couple of good shots of the city Aizu (movie). Before that we went to a Japanese Tea garden in the castle complex and paid 500 Yen (~$5) for a really fake Tea ceremony.
We then drove a couple more hours back into Fukushima for some Okinominomiyaki at a restaurant called Dohtonbori. The food was basically a mix of various ingredients (raw meats and veggies) grilled on a grill in the center of the table. Because it has an egg and ends up looking like a low-egg-content frittata, it’s often called a Japanese omelet. It was ok, nothing compared to sushi for me and Anita, but Karen liked it a lot. Anita liked the restaurant motto: Pon-poka-pon! (the onomatopoeiac word for pounding your belly, in Japan at least)