Ura-Bandai: The Pleasure of Highland stay


I have visited Ura-Bandai in summer more times than I can count, but never has the word “summer retreat” been more appropriate than this year. I came here to get away from the scorching heat of the city and just enjoy the cool air.

“Ura-Bandai” is the generic name for the 800-meter-high plateau area at the northern foot of Mt. Bandai, dotted with lakes and marshes such as Lake Hibara and Goshikinuma. Generally the word “Ura(behind the scenes)” is not a word that one would use in terms of political correctness nowadays, however, “Ura-Bandai” is a established summer/winter resort brand name that has been referred to with a certain longing by the people of Aizu area.

Let me show you some of the photos I took during my stay in Aizu/Ura-Bandai that I thought “looked like a summer resort”.

The brightly lit interior of Bandia Herb Garden

Bandia is my favorite herb store and cafe in recent years. The staff is very modest, elegant, and friendly, which is very typical of Ura-Bandai people.

Bandia Herb Garden
福島県の裏磐梯高原(北塩原村)にある小さなハーブ園&喫茶テラスBandia(バンディア)の公式ホームページ。 入場無料のガーデンやティーテラスの他、精油やアロマセラピーグッズ、ハーブクラフトを扱うショップもございます。ペットOK! レジャーやウィンタースポーツ、五色沼観光がてら是非お立ち寄りください。

By the way, I happened to see their cat on Mitsuaki Iwago’s “Cat Walk” TV program a few years ago. The cat lives in a herb garden that seems to blend in with the forest, so it must have a very relaxed cat life.

White clouds rising in the blue sky.

Not sure but I guess it is a kind of herb.

A cluster of short flowers in the same park. I wonder if these are herbs too.

Another time, another place, another morning sky.
On a deserted tennis court in the morning haze.

As expected, Ura-Bandai highlands has not been able to completely block out the unusually hot weather this year, with daytime high temperatures exceeding 30°C  every day. According to the locals,

“It’s impossible for the temperature to stay above 30°C for more than a week.
People are seriously considering buying air conditioners.
It was abnormal since the previous winter when only 140cm (!!) of snow accumulated. We are worried that the lack of water (from melting snow) will affect the crops.”

I would like to think that this is just an anomaly of this year, but as a mere tourist, I am worried, too.

However, it is cool in the morning and evening, and even during the daytime, if you stay in the shade and enjoy a nice breeze, Ura-Bbandai is quite comfortable. Let’s get back on track and have fun.

This is a shot taken at a villa area at the back of Lake Sohara, which looks like the forest area of a highland resort.

Yanagi-numa at the west end of Goshiki-numa.

There is always a cool breeze blowing through this spot, which is nice for those who are sweaty from hiking, but at this moment, unusually, the wind had almost stopped. I was lucky enough to capture the brief moment when the water surface reflected the sky and trees.

Well, next time, I will write about what is good to eat in Aizu/Ura-Bandai.