Tenninkyo and the color changing blue pond

Abandoned places have a strange charm which I can hardly resist. It’s not even that I’m doing it on purpose but somehow I always end up in deserted places. It must be my spooky gene. The Tenninkyo isn’t exactly a place you’d find in travel guides and I’m not exactly sure why I even decided to go there. There’s some pretty devastating reviews on the web like this one for example: “Ghost town, with derelict buildings, couldn’t get out of there quick enough”.
I’m a little offended by that one but maybe the people who didn’t enjoy this place were expecting something else than what they found. The plan was to actually get to the Hagoromo Falls but we didn’t make it that far. The only street was impassable by car so we had to carry on by foot.

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When the cliffs appeared out of nowhere I wasn’t expecting anything so it blew my mind. Volcanic and other interesting rock formations are often one of the reasons I want to visit a specific place. Japan’s mountains are young and active compared to the alps so the rocks and mountain chains have much softer silhouettes because they haven’t eroded that much yet. I’ve always dreamt of seeing majestic basalt columns like the ones in Iceland or the Devil’s tower in the USA one day but the columns at the Tenninkyo were pretty awesome too I think and a nice surprise.

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After we had passed a tunnel and crossed a bridge a few buildings showed up. As the hotels we had seen at the Asahidake most of them were inaccessible because of the piles of snow lying in front of them. The sliding glass doors of the “Tenninkaku” however moved aside as we stood in front of them so we entered the hotel. It was around noon I think and feeling kind of hungry we hoped we’d find something to eat. The lack of scent of cooked food made it pretty obvious that this hotel didn’t have any guests right then and that we wouldn’t walk out of there with a full tummy. Not knowing what to do exactly and wondering why there were no guests we stood there and looked at each other. After several “sumimasen” an elderly man came forward. A sense of loneliness and isolation came over me as I asked him about when the hotel was build and if we can come back and stay here in summer. I felt sorry for him and this beautiful place but admired that Ojisan and his wife at the same time.

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So this might not be your usual perception of a magical place in a positive way but the nature around and even the interior of the hotel had something so mighty and glamorous that seeing it without people made me sad. Not for me really because I enjoy people-free zones but for the place and the people who belong here. Watery-eyed because I just didn’t understand why people wouldn’t want to visit this place I got some cute little chocolates and we left. I’ll come back Ojisan, wait for me :3

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Nature is vast and unspoiled in Hokkaido and it’s very probable that you’ll encounter foxes and squirrels or other animals along your way. If you wonder why there’s been nature and nothing but nature in the last blog posts so far, it’s because that’s all what the most northern island of Japan is about. There’s National parks everywhere covering large areas and chances are good you won’t encounter too many people, especially if you go off-season.

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Biei is another lovely location close to Furano and in between lies the blue pond which I didn’t want to miss even if I’d already seen it. It was getting dark very early those days since they were the shortest days of the year so we were always a little in a hurry. But the scenery which awaited us was worth it. I loved it during both seasons, autumn and winter.
In case you missed it, here’s what it looks like in autumn: Hokkaido’s iridescent blue pond
The blue pond changes its color depending on what season and weather it is and there’s some breathtaking photographs of it around the web. I’m not exactly sure what makes it different from other ponds besides the fact that it’s an artificially made pond but the water is said to have aluminium hydroxide which favors this light and reflection play.

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Hadn’t had enough of snowy sceneries? Well there’s a few more to come but first let me take you a little more southwards again.

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