Sunday, April 18, 2010

Youtei-zan... the Waters from the Gods

30th October, 2003 - T-chan and I head off to Toya-ko for a night away... but on the way we drove to Youtei-zan, which is one of the most prominent volcanic mountains around Hokkaido. Indeed it's apparently referred to as the Fuji of the North. It's about 120 km drive from Sapporo, and a good  thing to add to the Touya-ko trip. You'll see this peak prominantly in the distance if you're off to Niseko in the winter time. There's no snow at this time of the year... but the autumn clouds gather and threaten a cold snap.

Youtei-zan stands about 1890m tall... and it's one of those classical conical shapes that always looks better from afar than up close. Yes you can climb it as well... remember your cow-bell. This is definitely bear country.

We were on a mission... Yotei no Fukidashi-Kouen (translates to Youtei's Spout Park ... or something like that) which is near the Kyogoku township. That's right - we weren't here for the view. We were after the water. 

The spring itself is well catered for in terms of visitor facilities - but I suspect that foreign visitors would rarely come to visit... water-drinking just doesn't rate high on most tourist's list of things to do.

The spring runs strong, the waters making its way down through the stones, through the mineral rich soil, to the man-made lake below. It's a beautiful area, and worth a stop even if you're not really into water.

It's quite common in Japan that people come specifically to collect these sorts of natural spring waters - and Youtei water is famous all over Japan. This spring water was even considered one of the top 100 waters in Japan... but the fact that Japan has a top 100 waters tells me so much more about the Japanese than it does about the water.

The water is so pure that people drink straight from the spring. To be honest, the rationalist in me says this is a bad, BAD idea (knowing how bacteria can develop in natural water courses...). Still when in Rome, grit your teeth and do as the Romans do... Hmmm yummy... water. We had brought some water containers purely for the purpose of bringing water back to T-chans parents. Luckily our stomachs came through without any problems.

The spring generates about 80,000 tonnes of water per day, so I don't think that they will miss the odd litre or two. But the local diety keeps a watchful eye over proceedings anyhow...doumo arigatou gozaimashita angry sword-bearing god!

It's a strange area - part national park, part spring, part sacred land, and part tourist trap. In Japan, it's not unusual to be many things at once.

Now off to Touya-ko!

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