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Japan Hour

Bus Adventure To Tochigi Prefecture - Part 2

Bus Adventure To Tochigi Prefecture - Part 2

A spiritual site in Tochigi Prefecture's oldest hot spring, a legendary rock also known as "the killing stone", Fukushima's local Shirakawa ramen and a luxurious kaiseki meal are featured this week.

Our two-day bus trip from Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Tochigi Prefecture to Aizuwakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture continues. At the end of the first day, we make it to Nasushiobara in Tochigi. We manage to book rooms at Mid City Hotel and have dinner at an Italian place nearby. 

The next morning, we start from Nasushiobara Station, taking the 8am bus bound for Nasuyumoto Onsen via Kuroiso Station. In about 50 minutes, we arrive at Nasuyumoto, the oldest hot spring in Tochigi Prefecture with a history of 1,300 years. It is also famous for Sessho-seki, a rock found in a desolate landscape which is also called the “killing stone”, as well as a hot spring shrine which is a popular spiritual site. 

We drop by the information centre at Nasuyumoto. We want to get as close as possible to the prefectural border. We are told to first take the Kyu-bi Bus to Mt. Jeans Ski Resort Nasu, after which we can take a taxi to cross over to Fukushima Prefecture. For this two-day journey, we are given 10,000 yen to spend on taxis in areas where there are no buses. We have nearly an hour till the bus to Mt. Jeans departs. To avoid losing time, we reserve a taxi in advance and request to be picked up at 10.20am from Mt. Jeans. We take the 9.55am bus and reach the mountain pass to the prefectural border. We board the taxi which is already waiting for us and finally enter Fukushima Prefecture. 

The taxi drops us at a bus stop near Kashi Onsen at around 10.35am. Our taxi fare comes up to more than 4,000 yen. We initially plan to take the bus to Kogen Hotel but it leaves 2.5 hours later. So we go to a tourist facility called Kyororon Mura to get information. We find out there is no bus from Kogen Hotel to Shimogo, which is about 20km away. But we can go to a village called Nagurasawa, which is 13km away from Kogen Hotel, and then take a bus from there to the town centre of Shimogo.

We decide to have an early lunch and try Shirakawa ramen. It is one of Fukushima's local ramen, along with Kitakata ramen. It uses wide, curly noodles that go well with the soy sauce-based soup. Once again, we call to book a taxi which can pick us up from the bus stop in front of Nasu Kashi Kogen Hotel. We then walk to the hotel before taking the taxi to Nagurasawa. This time, the taxi ride costs nearly 5,000 yen. It is now 1pm. The bus to Aizu-Shimogo Station is only at 3.35pm.

In the meantime, we find out that once we get to Shimogo, we can transfer buses and head in the direction of Aizuwakamatsu. But at one point, we will have to walk through a tunnel for 3km as there are no buses in that area. We take the bus to Aizu-Shimogo Station, which is about 20 minutes away. We then board a bus bound for Edamatsu at 4.15pm and alight at the Shinyu Iriguchi bus stop after travelling for 25 minutes. After this, we catch the 4.45pm bus to Onumazaki. We arrive in about 10 minutes and then walk in a tunnel for 40 minutes before reaching the exit. We see a bus stop and catch the last bus to Aizu-Wakamatsu Station in Aizuwakamatsu, our goal, at 7.15pm. The bus passes Tsuruga Castle, a symbol of Aizuwakamatsu, before arriving at the bus terminal at Aizu-Wakamatsu Station. We have reached our goal after travelling for 120km and riding on 12 different buses from Nikko Toshogu Shrine to Aizuwakamatsu. As a reward, we are treated to a fancy kaiseki meal at Mangerou, a high-class Japanese restaurant in Aizuwakamatsu.

Tips:

1)    Tochigi’s oldest hot spring, Nasuyumoto Onsen, also has a popular spiritual site 
2)    Tsuruga Castle is a symbol of Aizuwakamatsu City
 

Source: CNA

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