There are several benefactors of this lake park to remember, the chief among them being the late Keigetsu Ōmachi. He was a man of letters and wrote much about the charms of Towada with feeling and zest, especially on the Oirase Valley.

The little hot-spring village, called Tsuta, where Mr. Ōmachi wrote and died, has become a popular resort, one of the "must" spots for visitors to Towada. There is hardly a mountain resort but has some lakes near by to reflect its beauty and enhance its attractiveness, but in most cases the greater charms belong to the mountain. In Towada the lake is the mistress. Here the Hakkōda peaks, eight in number, as the word "hakkō" indicates, looming grandly to the north of the lake, are included within the orbit of the lake to form a picture-wise background to the Towada Park, for, as stated elsewhere, a Japanese garden must comprise both lake and mountain.

These mountains are rich in alpine plants and in primitive forests, the depths of which have not yet been explored. Their highest peak, Ōdake (5,199 feet above sea level) is a favorite objective of climbers far and near. Their volcanic nature is proved by the presence of hot springs in the vicinity, of which the aforesaid Tsuta, and Sugayu on the western side of the park, are noted. Coming from Aomori, the chief city in the north-eastern Japan, one passes these two spas en route to Yakeyama, the fine motor road being laid in a picturesque sylvan landscape. Then one enters the most perfect beauty spot of the Towada district, namely, the Oirase Valley. It is a continuous run of 7.5 miles, forming the bed of the river Oirase, flowing from the Towada Lake. The water runs placidly over a deep basin, now laughing upon shallow, stony beds, and now crashing in angry cascades. Its passage is laid in thickly-wooded and rocky gorge scenery of unsurpassable beauty.

Upon the many rocks, large and small, sticking out of the water, are seen not only moss but trees and shrubs, and this peculiar phenomenon is accounted for as follows. "As a rule, the bed of a mountain stream is so steep and the change in the volume of the water so considerable that few rocks in the stream can maintain plant life, but the Oirase is an exception to this rule, its water always flowing evenly." The drive or walk along this valley from Yakeyama to Nenokuchi ("the mouth of the lake") is worth all the journey one makes to Towada.

At Nenokuchi the wondrous lake Towada opens, almost round with a pair of peninsulas, Ogura and Nakayama, the one thick-set and the other slender, jutting into the lake, dividing its southern side into the three lakes, i.e. East, Central and Western. It is 28 miles around, six times the size of Lake Chūzenji, and is very deep, being over 1,100 feet at its deepest part, which nearly represents the height of the lake from sea level.

The sightseeing motor-boat is regularly run round the southern half of the lake, which is Lake Towada proper, or the most picturesque part of it. Most beautiful in autumn, it attracts visitors all the year, for it affords bathing, boating and fishing amid serene natural environs. The two villages of Oide and Yasumiya on the southern shore provide conveniences of life as well as stop-over stations for ramblers over land and by water and for mountain climbers.

No comments: