Aside from the meditative atmosphere -- it's surrounded almost completely by trees -- I also like the story behind it. You see, it is believed that at the very bottom of this lake lives a giant Snake-Dragon, a Snake-Dragon, mind you. No timid plesiosaurs or long-necked seals here. No pikes or swimming elephants, nope. A Snake-Dragon!
Nessie eat your heart out.
Since I've actually got a column coming out soon in a cool e-zine where I'll write about neat local folklore and will eventually write up that story, I won't go into any more detail here. Instead I'll talk about number two on the list of cool animals for today, turtles!
Koi (carp) the size of my beagle call Sakura Ga Ike home. However, there are loads of the suckers and the kids who line the shore to feed them quickly bore of the slurpy, greedy beasts and begin to root for the underdog, the turtles.
There are only five or six of them and while turtles look cooler (or cuter depending on your gender) swimming around they almost invariably loose out in the food fight to the carp. So by the end of the day you get a dozen children all screaming, "TURTLE! You can do it!" and aiming their bread just right.
Here's a picture of a turtle and a fish vying for a piece of food. A chunk of fu that the fish has already devoured by the looks of it.
Turtles are auspicous. They are said to live 10,000 years. While cranes are lucky too, they only own enough good luck to last a mere 1,000 years. Humph. There is a saying in Japanese Sen nen man nen (one thousand years, ten thousand years), it basically means a long, long time and refers also to both cranes and turtles.
Another reason to visit the lake is to purchase a special sweet meat called kame manju. The town is right on the ocean and sea turtles come every year to lay their eggs. The snack is a way to remember the turtles and a kind of wish for the babies to (when they grow up) return back to the same shore and lay their own eggs.
Here it is in the box.
An idea of how big it is. This is actually the smallest size. I'm cheap.
And here after cutting it into pieces with a sharp knife you can see it is a kind of cakey exterior with a mushy, sweetened red-bean paste interior.
Mmm, mmm good!