Sunday, October 26, 2008

Unzen National Park

The weekend before last I went to Unzen national park, which is about an hour and a half or so from Nagasaki city. Unzen was Japan’s first national park, and it consists of a small village, an onsen resort, and a mountainous forest with geysers. The Unzen village is located high up in the mountains. There is a semi-active volcano nearby, and water from the geysers is pumped into the hotel for the onsen. There are vents all around the village that emit steam, and most of the village smells very strongly of sulphur. The geyser area itself has a sulphuric odor that is quite pervasive. Some of the local treats include eggs boiled in the geyser water (for that extra eggy taste) and lemonade made from the same water. I didn’t try any of the eggs, but I did try the lemonade, and it didn’t have a sulphuric aftertaste, thankfully.

The Unzen trip was for the JASIN and NICS students, so a little over 100 students total. I shared my room with three other guys. There were also some faculty and student assistants present as well. The resort had a very traditional atmosphere. Each hotel room had a genkan (place to put your shoes/entrance area), as the floors were tatami (you don’t wear shoes on tatami). The tables were, of course, the kind you kneel at, and traditional tea ware was provided. We slept on futons. Actually, during the day we piled our futons together and made a couch, which was probably the most comfortable piece of makeshift furniture ever. Since it was an onsen (hot springs/bath) resort, the rooms did not have a bath/shower, only a toilet and sink.

We were provided four big meals during our stay at the resort. I’ve tried a lot of different Japanese foods since arriving here, but out of the 10-12 courses provided at each meal, I could not figure out what most of the stuff was. Some of the Japanese students there were unable to recognize the dishes. I wasn’t very adventurous at trying new food at this time; I didn’t eat much. I wasn’t particularly fond of the things I did eat, except for lunch on Sunday, which was champon and Chinese food! The Chinese dishes consisted of some kind of pork/fish ball in Sweet and Sour sauce, Chicken in a honey glaze served with pineapple and onion, and vegetable rolls. We had grapefruit jello for desert (I love grapefruit)!

The activities consisted of a scenic walk (or mountain climb, but I didn’t do that) through the forest and around the lake, a visit to the geyser basin area, some lame school thing, and karaoke. Pictures are below.

This picture is taken from the hotel area.
Picture taken from the scenic walk through the woods. I didn't take many pictures while on the walk because it all looked the same.
Torii in the forest.
Picture of the village, as seen from across the lake.

No comments: