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 third deepest), the Oirase Valley (famous for its fall colors), the Hakkoda mountain range and the plateau of Hachimantai.
Flora and fauna
The winter in the northern mountains is harsh, and virtually all transport, accommodations etc are shut down between November and April.
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 rental are available at Yakeyama (焼山）and Nenokuchi (子の口）for about 600 yen / 2 hours. People who rent a bike at one place can left it at another place for an extra fee.
- Towadako Ferries, ☎ , fax: 0176-53-8525, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can take a boat tour from Yasumiya (休屋) around Lake Towada (45 minutes) or to Nenokuchi (50 minutes). Both cruises have a recorded guide (in Japanese) and show the beautiful rugged coast around the lake. Between 1 April and 24 November. 1400 yen.
- Lake Towada (十和田湖). Lake Towada, or Towada-ko, 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.
- Oirase River (奥入瀬川). The upper reaches, known as literally as the Oirase Stream (奥入瀬渓流 Oirase-keiryu) or as the Oirase Gorge, are famously scenic, featuring constant-flowing water since this is the drain of Lake Towada, and numerous waterfalls.
- 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.
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).
Yasumiya offers a 45-minute lake boat tour that lets you enjoy the picturesque scenery of the rugged coast formed by the two main peninsulas of Towada Lake. Or you can take the ferry between Yasumiya and Nenokuchi, which also passes by the two peninsulas and has a recorded guide.
- People can stop at the Oirase Youth Hostel for 3360 yen per night.
- Towadako Backpackers, Aomori-ken Towadashi Okuse Tohadakohanyasumiya (at the eastern entrance of Yasumiya on road 103), ☎ . A new backpackers hostel in a former guest house near the shore of lake Towada. Run by a very friendly host and his grand-daughter, it has dormitory rooms, double rooms, and camping grounds. There is a common kitchen and showers, and free Wi-Fi. dormitory bed for 2500 yen, twin room for 5000 yen, breakfast for 400 yen.
- Sukayu Onsen (酸ヶ湯温泉), ☎ . One of the most famous old onsen in the area. The exterior and interior are of wood, and the main bath, though large, will unlikely hold up to 1000 people as it is famously claimed. The water is white and is reputedly good to treat reuma. The whole onsen smells of sulfur from the water, which adds to the charm once you get used to it. The large bath is open 24 hours and is one of the few remaining mixed-sex baths (be warned!), except 8-9am and pm when it is female only. It is near a nice short walk that takes you to a termal-heated wooded bench. Serious hikers can relax in this onsen after walking the Hakoda mountain. Rooms are Japanese style, and food is served in the room, ryokan style. Alternatively you can stay for a longer period and cook your own food in the cooking facilities. 7000 yen per person for the ryokan accommodation, 10000 yen on high season.
There is a JR Tohoku Bus connecting Aomori with Hachinohe, connecting numerous onsens north of Towada Lake, Towada town, the Oirase gorge, Nenokuchi and Yasumiya.
|Routes through Towada-Hachimantai National Park|
|Aomori ← Misawa ←||N S||→ Hachinohe → Morioka|