Tongari Furusato Working Holiday Column
Kana Watanabe: Erimo column
We would like to introduce the columns of two people who toured four Tongari towns while working and staying. This project was held at the Urakawa Tourist Association for about two weeks under the Furusato Working Holiday program sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
Visiting Erimo Kana Watanabe
The first place I visited was Lake Toyoniko, the place famous for the heart-shaped lake, and the image of the packaging of the famous snack “Shiroi Koibito”. It is actually hard to see the heart shape unless you look at it from above, but I could picture the heart shape by looking at where it is supposed to be the “dent” of the heart.
The lake is in the middle of a mountain, so it is so quiet. The only sound I could hear was that of animals. It is great to “forest bathe” in such a place. The water was so clear that I could see fish in the lake. Also, we witnessed the Japanese crayfish which is a certified endangered creature. In these days when American crayfish are everywhere, it is quite a valuable lake that has not been eroded by non-native species. I hope that more efforts will be continued to be made to preserve the ecosystem and protect the environment for this lake’s future.
Incidentally, on the way to the lake, we also encountered the Ezo red-legged frog (Rana pirica), which is found only in Hokkaido in Japan. The scientific name “pirica” comes from the Ainu word, meaning “beautiful”. The one I saw looked like just a toad, so there maybe some variety of the visual look of the frog.
We went to Isami Sushi for lunch. I ordered the lunch sushi set. So there were 2 more rolls on this plate but I could not wait to try them so ate them before I remembered to take picture.
It is just so special to have sushi at the counter. It certainly adds more “flavor” to the whole experience. Of course, everything is so delicious because this town is on the coast and they use as much local fresh ingredients as possible.
After the lunch, we made a quick stop at the local museum “Horoizumi” and Fisheries Museum. I have heard the kelp exhibit would blow me away, and it really did. Especially the size of the kelp was amazing. There were other interesting exhibits about Mitsuishi Kelp and other kelp world wide. I have never thought much of non-Japanese kelp since I had an image of kelp being Japan. I was shocked to learn that there are 115 different kind of kelps all over the world!
It was a beautiful day so we were able to see the kelp boats on the ocean as well as the local people spreading their kelp on beach to dry. Everytime we got out of the car, I was surrounded by the scent of kelp, which was really refreshing.
The last stop was the Cape Erimo and “Kazeno Yakata (The house of the wind)”. Here, you can see the Zenigata seals, the symbol of Erimo Town! Cape Erimo is one of the windiest areas in Japan, with wind speeds of 10 meters/second (22 miles/second) or more on over 260 days per year. You can experience the strong winds of Cape Erimo (25m/s or 56mph) in the museum’s wind tunnel exhibit, which I tried. The wind was so strong that I had the illusion that I could fly like a flying squirrel.
We were able to observe seals through the museum’s observation scopes. It is rumored that there are more than 100 seals forming a colony, but perhaps because of the high waves, it was difficult to see any seals lying on the rocks this time. I was only able to catch the moment it showed its face while swimming. I will definitely come back to catch them laying on the rocks. I will be back!