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Towada-Hachimantai National Park

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Fall colors on Hachimantai Mountain

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.

Get in[edit]

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.

Get around[edit]

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.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Lake Towada (十和田湖 Tōwadako) is Honshu's largest volcanic caldera lake and also the country's third deepest lake. The area nearby is dotted with dense forests and waterfalls, and is the top tourist draw in all Tohoku.
  • The Oirase River (奥入瀬川 Oirase-gawa) drains out of Lake Towada. The upper reaches, known as literally as the Oirase Stream (奥入瀬渓流 Oirase-keiryū) or as the Oirase Gorge, are famously scenic. Many hike by the stream, with its numerous waterfalls, especially popular in October for the autumn leaves. The entire course takes 15 km, but it is possible to take bus part way. There are only 3 buses from Hachinohe however, and if you miss the 2 in the morning, hiking the route as a day trip is simply impossible.
  • Hachimantai Plateau (八幡平) is located south of Lake Towada and bridges the central areas of Akita prefecture and Iwate prefecture. It is an area of ancient volcanic activity, and the entire plateau is dotted with boiling mud pools, steam and smoke vents and hot springs.

Do[edit][add listing]

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)

Eat[edit][add listing]

The area around Lake Towada has a handful of restaurants and cafes, mostly near Towada Shrine.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

People can stop at the Oirase Youth Hostel for 3360 yen per night.

  • Towadako backpackers, Aomori-ken Towadashi Okuse Tohadakohanyasumiya. A new backpacker's hostel near the shores of lake Towada, with dormitory rooms, double rooms and camping grounds. Free Wi-fi. Run by a very friendly elderly couple. (40.4255,140.8997) edit

Stay safe[edit]

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.

Get out[edit]

  • Aomori - Prefectural capital and bullet train station, with Nebuta Museum, Great Buddha, and other sights.
  • Tsugaru Peninsula - Offers lots of natural beauty, as well as the gorgeous Takayama Inari Shrine.
  • Hachinohe - Lots of sea coast beauty with the rugged Tanesashi Coast and countless seagulls around Kabushima Shrine.
  • Shimokita Peninsula - One of Japan's most isolated places, and home to Osorezan (Mt. Fear).
  • Hirosaki - the "Kyoto of the North", with its famous castle, cherry blossoms, and one of the regions most beautiful traditional gardens.
  • Hakodate - Gateway city to Hokkaido, with great seafood and one of Japan's best mountaintop views.
  • Akita - City in the middle of some of Japan's most pristine nature.
Routes through Towada-Hachimantai National Park
AomoriMisawa  N noframe S  HachinoheMorioka

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