I awoke from my slumber refreshed and rejuvenated. My first Onsen experience was nothing short of spectacular. You couldn't have picked a better spot for me to have my first dip.
The wood-laden scenery, supported by mountainous inclines. It was the perfect treatment for days of heavy riding.
Onto today's activities, I'm wrapping up my time in Tohoku by going to the Fukushima Prefecture to visit Aizu and a Sake brewery.
I figured this would be a good time to see more traditional sites, as I'll want to several different modern attractions in the cities.
The bus whisks me away from the Onsen and reunites me with the DZed. She appears to come away unscathed from a night of unattended ownership.
One thing I did notice yesterday is the power delivery from the bike was lacking a little off the top end. I'm not surprised, as we are at elevation and that tends to effect the jetting.
What I'm puzzled by is why I didn't have similar issues in the mountainous regions of Hokkaido. Perhaps a jet needle swap is needed, down the road.
As I get reacquainted with the DZed, I check the GPS for today's route. It looks like my ride time to Aizuwakamatsu (Aizu) will be just under 3 hours.
Considering the number of hours I've put on the DZed in the past two weeks, this route will be a breeze.
We are southbound towards Aizu with nothing but highways as our guide. This route is probably the easiest of the trip, as it's smooth sailing straight south.
As this my last day in the region, I decided to get normal hotel accommodations and use their amenities to get re-set for the Kanto region.
That region includes Tokyo and other major Japanese cities. I can't wait to experience city life around here!
The first stop in Aizu is the Tsuruga Castle. The castle was first constructed in 1384 and due to various conflicts, has been rebuilt several times.
The castle is nestled inside a park, filled with cherry trees. Unlike the Sakura up north, I seem to be seeing these trees at the right time as they're in full bloom by mid-April.
To accompany the castle is a moat and stone walls that have held up over the centuries.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this place is how it served as a headquarters for a number of different ruling regimes. The most notable of whom was Tokugawa Ieyasu.
The former ruler started a movement that ruled over the country for 250 years. This era of the country is known as the Edo Period.
Aside from being a fearless ruler, he was also known for establishing prominent trade agreements with other countries and promoting the Samurai underneath him to study other arts.
For example, they were allowed to study arts and literature, in addition to their martial arts.
While the era did not last to modern times, many remnants remain and shed light on that era's importance to the country today.
Because of its strong past and connection to the Samurai, a museum is on the property, dedicated to their lifestyle.
Not only that, has a museum dedicated to sake, a teahouse and well kept garden. While the serenity and peace of the teahouse area sounds nice, I don't plan on spending that much time around it.
I made reservations at a nearby Sake Brewery later today, which limits my time at the castle.
I spent the late morning and noon hours getting the necessary photos for my collection, enjoying the ripe cherry trees, accenting the park.
With those photos in tow, I head over to the Suehiro Sake Brewery for an afternoon tour.
This brewery is one of the most famous in Japan, for a variety of reasons. One, this brewery has been in the control of one family since 1850.
The Eight generation creators of Sake have nurtured their product by following a method of brewing called "Yamahai".
From what I could understand, that means that this method allows a longer fermentation period of the yeast used in the brew.
I'm sure there's a much better method of explaining the process, but the recent soothes of the Onsen and track riding still has my mind pining for yesterday.
As tasty as a good sake could be, it doesn't match the sheer ecstasy of that bubbling therapy.
Regardless, I enjoyed my time at the brewery and enjoyed the alcohol laden comraderie with my fellow tour mates.
Perhaps the coolest part of the brewery, to me, was the concert venue built into the place.
Jazz is a popular genre of music around these parts, so visitors were treated to an afternoon performance of a well known jazz group.
The vibrant timbre of the group provided an instant inspiration to my creative ethos.
Lost amongst the other visitors was my sudden sensation to create and add to my list of melodies that I need to write.
The inspiration carries well into the evening hours, when I find myself back at my hotel.
In an effort to balance my rigid schedule with the care free mindset of my creativity, I end my day plucking away at new melodies while collecting my thoughts for the Kanto region.
Tomorrow, I head further south and into the Kanto Plain.
This area will continue the trend of outdoor attractions, but that will soon give way to the urban, luminescent appeal of Tokyo and the other major cities.
Thanks again and I'll see you soon!