If you got a holiday on early December, where would you like to go?
We got no clue as it wasn’t sale season or Christmas season yet, so we scrolled around the online ticketing platform to get some clues where we can go. Discounted tickets to Tokyo were found, and along with the East Japan Tohoku JR pass, we decided go to Sendai. Sendai is a perfect city to base on so one can explore the cities around For example, Aomori for the apples and Akita for the rice. However, I would like to introduce you Mount Moriyoshi this time, where we can meet Snow Monster!
The JR pass is a good bargain. For HK$1300 each, one can ride on almost all publicly run train (including Shinkansen) for any 5 days in 14 consecutive days. We practically take Shinkansen for all our long-distance ride in the 5 days 4 nights trip.
The Shinkansen ride from Tokyo to Sendai is of 100 minutes. After we landed Tokyo in the afternoon, we took the Shinkansen up to Sendai from Tokyo. It was late when we arrived Sendai, but Sendai train station is a complex as large as Nagoya’s, so there were shops and restaurant where we can have dinner.
The next day we were in Sendai, we decided to go to Mount Moriyoshi to visit the snow monster. We took the Shinkansen to the direction of Akita, and stop at Kakunodate. Kakunodate is also nicknamed as “little Kyoto up north”, and we already go the feelings of “Classic Japan” during the short 15 minutes transit stay in Kakunoddate.
We took a small local run train called “Akita Nairiku Jukan Railway” from Kakunodate to Aniai. People called it as one of the most beautiful train routes in autumn. Though we were not disappointed at all even we took the train in winter. The train took us to travel between the mountains, valleys and forests. It was as miracle as when we board a “Harry Potter train” to the hidden Hogwarts.
We get to Aniai after ¬45 minutes ride. Aniai is a tiny station, with a ticket window (gladly it is manned by people) and a local convenience store. We were indeed attracted by a poster saying there is a taxi + gondola package to take people from the train station to the mountain top. However, seems like local don’t know much about the offer. After a while, the station staff successfully contacted with the programme runner and we boarded a taxi up the gondola station.
It was snowing heavily when we were there, but there are snow boots that we can rent from gondola information centre. The gondola ride was wonderful. We were glad that the ride was long enough for us to appreciate the scenery. The gondola take us travel between snow monsters, they were huge and charming. What are snow monsters actually? They are indeed tall Christmas/ pine tree grown in a snowy mountain which also happens to be a very windy place, so very often the tree got coated with lumps of snow in winter. People say “action speaks more than words” and so does “pictures”.
Taxi was ready to take us back to station on our way back, but not the train. At first, we thought the train was slightly delayed due to the snowy weather, but indeed the service was suspended due to an out of order train. We were very hungry and checked with the staff for train service update and restaurant information. The staff was surprised that we had to head back to Sendai by Shinkansen (we could have waste an expensive Shinkansen ticket if we were not travelling with an all-you- can-ride JR pass). He was so sorry that the train service was suspended and he didn’t know when it will be resume back to normal again. He offered to take us to a restaurant close to the station by his CEO car.
The restaurant he took us to was a small place run by a pair of couples. The raw seafood bowl rice they served is one of the freshest seafood bowl rice we had ever had, and was not expensive at all. I don’t know how they manage to serve such a fresh seafood even though Aniai is a town located at no means close to the sea. Always go to local for food recommendations as they always know the best. The staff went back to pick us up saying the train service was resumed. He even gave us souvenirs. We managed to ride back safely to Kakunodate and took the last Shinkansen to Sendai. We had a tired but satisfied trip.
We were so addicted travelling to hidden places, not because we love to brag how advance we were as travellers, but the excitement we got every time.