Many of you know that I grew up in Okinawa, and that I often visit Japan for work and leisure. Whenever we are there, my wife and I always make it a point to visit someplace different.
On our last trip to Japan, we went to Akita, which is a prefecture in the northeastern part of the country. It is a really convenient place to visit because there are a lot of options to travel in and out of Akita.
Akita is well known for a few different types of foods, such as Hinai-Jidori (chicken) and Inaniwa udon (which is my favorite type of udon). Inaniwa udon is only made in the Akita region, and is thinner than other types of udon. Making the noodles is a long, labor-intensive process that includes kneading the wheat dough by hand numerous times, stretching it by hand, drying it, then kneading it again. This constant kneading is the secret behind the noodles, as it allows them to adsorb lots of air bubbles, which makes them tender and able to last for hours before being cooked. The effort is definitely worth it, as Inaniwa udon is one of the tastiest noodle dishes in the country!
While in Akita, we stayed next to Lake Tazawa, which is a caldera lake. It is the deepest lake in Japan, and located near a ski resort that operates during winter. There are also a number of hot springs near the lake that are super enjoyable! During our stay we took a boat ride around the lake that allowed us to see all the sights while relaxing on the water!
One thing that I found particularly interesting was that I didn’t see any moss anywhere on the lake, on the pier, or even on the hulls of the boats. I’m not sure if that's true of all lakes in Japan, or just Lake Tazawa, but after being around the ocean my whole life and experiencing all sorts of sea grasses and seaweeds, that seemed really odd to me. That’s part of why I love to travel so much—we get the chance to see things that we might not have experienced before, and they often challenge our established ways of thinking and make us wonder!