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Lake Takadate, Tsuruoka

Where peace comes....dropping slow

Lake Takadate is two lakes, Kami-ike and Shimo-ike, in Oyama, Tsuruoka. They occupy an area of ​​about 15 hectares, and on a map, appear like a rough figure eight, with Kami-ike at the top, and Shimo-ike the bottom. I went to Shimo-ike.

Shimo-ike settles in by Mount Takadate to provide some beautiful scenery. And a beautiful peace. It's the combination of intense green mountains and blue waters, that's so compact and complete, it blocks out anything that does not belong. The quiet is so pervasive, you can feel peace dropping slow, as W.B. Yeats puts it.* Finding such a place was unexpected, so the beauty was even more pleasurable.

Shimo-ike, Lake Takadate
Shimo-ike, Lake Takadate

Walking round Shimo-ike will give you about 10 km of a pleasant nature trail, with the lake, squawking ducks, birds, for company.

Lake view from the walk
Lake view from the walk

I found, however, after a smooth hour or so, the trail roughens up, the walk becoming cumbersome with twisty tree roots hidden by leaves, uneven rubbled stones, and the path getting narrower, too. The nature was amazing, but soon the lake itself disappeared, shrouded by foliage, as did the ducks. I turned back.

Walk around the lake
Walk around the lake

How does the walk begin? The bus dropped me on a small, residential road, with nothing in sight that even suggested a lake. I kept the faith, and soon, or soon enough, a turnstile, an old cypress pine tree, and a mountain side, indicated the end of the road, with a big map in Japanese. But anyone can follow a drawing, right?

Cypress marker at entrance
Cypress marker at entrance

I definitely could, as I found the lake, the neighborhood road becoming a path by the mountain, then a peek of blue, and there it was. Rest your eyes and heart at the lake. To continue the walk, take the boardwalk until you come to an abandoned small stone torii gate. Divert right onto the path below. Look ahead to your reception committee, a row of tall and slim trees in a thick forest, adjacent to a piece of pastoral farmland.

Reception committee
Reception committee

There is also a walk up a gentle hill of the mountain to get to a summit, just at the entrance to the lake. You can also walk up through the big red torii gate near where the map is.

Lake Takadate, with its two "ponds" or giant pools of placid peace, contains all sorts of marshland, sedge, and vegetation, termed wetlands. It is lived in by a full array of fish, birds, fowl, dragon flies, insects, and the like. This bio-diversity has immense ecological value. Both Kami-ike and Shimo-ike are officially registered wetlands under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty, for the sensible and useful conservation of wetlands. It is some accolade as there are only 52 registered wetlands in Japan.

Shimo-ike wetlands
Shimo-ike wetlands

The lakes were once huge reservoirs 400 years ago during the Edo era. As Government property, no logging or any type of deforestation was permitted. This explains the untouched forests we walk through that augments the peace that drops over Lake Takadate.

* W.B. Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree: ...And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow...

Getting there

I took the bus from Bus Stop #2 outside the station. Tsuruoka's buses have long intervals, about 1.5-2 hours between runs. Best get bus schedules from the Tsuruoka Tourist Information Office at Foodever outside the station, on your right.

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Cathy Cawood a month ago

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