Rain Delays Play

Posted by on Sep 20, 2011 in Akita, Travel Volunteer Journey | One Comment
Rain Delays Play

It was raining hard when we woke up this morning and it’s not stopped all day, here in Akita prefecture. It’s been pretty frustrating – especially for Katy.

For a photographer, rain is a virtual guarantee of a wasted day, unless you’re fortunate enough to have assignments indoors. That’s not really been the case for us unfortunately as we’ve been driven around the interior on the prefecture, to what would normally be some pretty special natural sights.

One of the rare breaks in the metaphorical cloud was a visit to the Tsurunoyu onsen, to bathe in some milky volcanic water. Up in the hills, in a rickety old building with the sound of running water trundling from the roof, it was all rather lovely – even if it did leave us smelling faintly of old eggs.

From there we drove around Tazawako, the deepest lake in Japan, which our guide Chika Enoki told us is spectacular on a good day. We took her word for it, but it was hard not to feel cheated while the sights remained invisible. Yes, it was nice to see clouds breaking over the mountains like pierced yokes, but it still wasn’t much use for pictures; it wasn’t safe to take the cameras out in the rain anyway.

So the day has been a bit of a wash-out. And in just over a week of being in Japan, it’s not the first time the weather has caught us on the hop. Using nothing more than ill-informed guesswork, we packed our bags for an autumnal* chill, descending towards a Siberian freeze. From the moment we arrived, it was clear that we’d made a mistake.

Japan was in the middle of an unusually dogged Indian summer, and virtually all of our wardrobes were made redundant. We’d packed some swimwear too, but then found out that – at least when it came to the onsens – we wouldn’t need them, either. Added to this, we heard that when we get down to Okinawa in December, the weather will still be pretty warm.

So in a way, despite the torrid photography conditions, at least all the rain has justified some of our gargantuan luggage. Plus tonight, before snuggling up in the Youland Hotel, it drove us into our first karaoke bar – more on that another time.

And if the bad weather means the start of autumn proper, then all the better for us. As we travelled last year, we followed successive summers in Asia, South America and the USA. Coming after three years in Dubai, it meant we’d been trapped in an endless summer for nearly four years.

Other people complain about the cold, but we’re impatient for its arrival.

*With the right English accent (Michael Gambon, David Attenborough, Ian McKellan – anyone with a knighthood) “autumnal” is quite possibly the most beautiful word in the English language. By using “fall” for the same season, America is missing out.


Our time in Akita prefecture was made possible by:

The generous Ms Maiko Sasaki of the Akita branch of Ubusuna Inc.

Mr Sugahara from the communication plaza of Alve, even though he bullied us into singing at a karaoke bar, then didn’t sing himself!

The ultra-efficient Mr Osawa of King Taxi.

The cosy Nyuto Onsenkyo, which is a very pretty place regardless of the weather: wrapped in snow in the winter, baked in the mountain air in the summer.

Friendly guide, patient friend and secret hamburger fanatic Chika Enoki – the first person who really showed us that not all Japanese people like all Japanese food.

Watanabe-san, the incredible brew master at the Fukurokuju sake brewery. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either very good or very bad luck that we are getting a flight in the morning and so cannot take his two litres of sake with us…

The brilliant Namahage for giving us some excellent parenting techniques if we ever have children, and for showing us that at nearly 30,we can still be very afraid.

The Oga Aquarium for taking the time to write some signs in English, and for staying open a bit later than usual so we could visit.









*** 正しいイギリス英語の発音によると”autumnal”(秋)が最も美しい響きを持つ言葉だと言われている。”fall”(秋)では伝えられない特別の美しさなのだ。











秋田市飲食店組合環同連合会の皆様。秋田での楽しいひと時を過ごさせていただきました。 一生忘れられない思い出になりました。ありがとうございました。

1 Comment

  1. Kat
    September 21, 2011

    When you mentioned “Michael Gambon” I immediately imagined him as Dumbledore saying that word. Maybe I should ask my manager to say it (he’s a Scot). :)

    I spent the weekend in a lovely place with the rains pouring non-stop. It put a damper of sorts on my trip, so I know how you feel. Still, make the best of things, eh? Looking forward to hearing more from you. :)