Sunday, September 2, 2012

Our Trip Around the Hatchet



We decided to take a trip around Shimokita Peninsula this weekend (also known as the Hatchet). We stopped at Cape Shiriyazaki to see the Kandachime horses, but since I have already blogged about that you can click on the hyperlink to read that blog. Another place we have previously been to and is along the hatchet is Osoresan. So let’s start at our second stop on the trip, which was Cape Oma.

Cape Oma, is the northernmost point on the main island of Japan, Honshu located in Aomori Prefecture. The remote landscape of Hokkaido is visible from here, weather conditions permitting. This cape is also known for being an excellent spot for Tuna fishing.



Our next stop was Gankake Rock which rises roughly 100 meters over the Tairadate Strait connecting Mutsu Bay to the Tsugaru straight and affords a fantastic view of both Aomori’s Tsugaru Peninsula and Hokkaido’s Oshima Peninsula.
Apparently it was home to two shrines (one to Inari the fox god and one to Hachiman the god of war) and locals were already using the spot to hang up their love gankakes (prayer tags) together with cherry blossom “keys” in the hopes that their prayers would reach across the miles and unlock the hearts of their beloveds far away. Nowadays people attach padlocks to a wire mesh frame set up for that purpose between the two cliffs.  (I had read about this but didn’t go between the two cliffs. I don’t even know how we would have gone up there, really.) Apparently the love connection stems from the popular opinion that from certain angles the two prongs of the rock look like a man and a woman embracing. How sweet.

Gankake Rock


Third stop was Hotokegaura which is a series of rock formations naturally carved from the cliffs. These formations, along a fifteen hundred meter stretch of coastline are a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty and National Momument. And beautiful it was!


Here is a picture of Hotokegaura from afar. You can also walk down to the cliffs through a path in the woods, which we did. Be warned, though, this path is long. There are a variety of different stairs you need to go down (and back up). Once you get into the woods, there are two vending machines with drinks, and complimentary walking sticks. But once you get to the bottom, you will see how worth it it was. There is a shrine once you reach the shoreline and the water is crystal clear and a beautiful aquamarine. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in Japan and probably my favorite place on our trip.



Our last stop was to the Snow Monkey Park in Wakinosawa. On our way there, we actually saw a wild snow monkey sitting on the side of the road! The park has two areas where the monkeys are enclosed for tourists hoping to catch a glimpse but couldn’t find any in the wild. They are fun to watch and seem content in there, but I couldn’t help to feel sorrow for them, they deserve to live life in the wild. 


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