Towada-Hachimantai National Park
Earth : Asia : East Asia : Japan : Honshu : Tohoku : Towada-Hachimantai National Park
Towada-Hachimantai National Park (十和田八幡平国立公園) is a large national park in the Tohoku region of Japan, straddling the prefectures of Akita, Aomori and Iwate. Famously scenic, the park encompasses Lake Towada (Japan's deepest), the Oirase Valley (famous for its fall colors and river gorge), the Hakkoda mountain range and the plateau of Hachimantai.
The winter in the northern mountains is harsh, and virtually all transport, accommodations etc are shut down between November and April. However, it is largely free from the brain crushing heat and humidity that blankets the southern half of Japan in mid-summer, and it is a beautiful place to visit.
Towada-Hachimantai National Park covers a very large area, and can be tackled from a number of different directions.
For access to the northern side of the park (Lake Towada, the Oirase Valley, Hakkoda Mountains, Sukayu Onsen), the nearest major city is Aomori, from where you can take buses (1-2 hours). There are also direct buses from Hachinohe and Morioka (both 2.5 hours).
For access to the central areas of the park, the JR Hanawa Line (花輪線) crosses the northern side of the Hachimantai Plateau, traveling from Odate in the west to Koma in the east, with through services on the private Iwate Ginga Railway (IGRいわて銀河鉄道) to Morioka. Note that the IGR is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
For the southernmost parts of the park, the JR Tazawako Line (田沢湖線) travels along the south edge of the Hachimantai Plateau, from Morioka to Daisen.
Bicycle rentals are available at Yakeyama (焼山）and Nenokuchi (子の口）for about ¥600/2 hours. People who rent a bike at one place can leave it at another place for an extra fee.
There are countless hot springs in the park, especially on Hachimantai Plateau. The best known include Sukayu Onsen (酸ヶ湯温泉), Goshogake Onsen (後生掛温泉) and Toshichi Onsen (藤七温泉)
The area around Lake Towada has a handful of restaurants and cafes, mostly near Towada Shrine.
People can stop at the Oirase Youth Hostel for 3360 yen per night.
Being in a remote area, the biggest concern for those on a day trip is getting stranded. Be sure you know the transportation schedules well.