Oirase Gorge

Scenery straight out of a fantasy film

The Oirase Stream flows from Lake Towada on the border of Aomori and Akita prefectures through the equally scenic Oirase Gorge. Hiking or biking along it, you’ll see why the stream and the gorge have inspired painters and poets for centuries. The area is full of lush woods, waterfalls, and odd outcroppings of rocks. Examples of the latter two have even acquired names over the years.

Don’t Miss

The impressive drop of Choshi Falls
A stroll across Deaibashi (Hook-up Bridge)
The vibrant fall colors of Oirase Gorge

How to Get There

Oirase Gorge is most easily reached by JR bus from either Aomori or Hachinohe stations. Please note service is suspended in winter. From either station, you’ll take the bus bound for Towada-ko. There are numerous bus stops, such as Yakeyama, from which the trailhead can be reached. Choose where to disembark based on what you want to see and how long you want to hike.

Wander along 14 kilometers of bliss

The best ways to experience the stream are by hiking or cycling along its banks. Walking lets you fully absorb the details of your surroundings. Figure on five hours to walk the whole route, or more if you sketch, take photos, or write poetry. If you decide to cycle, you can rent a bike in Yakeyama and ride it one way, dropping it off in Nenokuchi at the far end of the path.

Along the way, you’ll see waterfalls with fanciful names like Soryu (Two Dragons), Tomoshiraga (Life-Long Partnership), and Shirakinu (White Silk).

Walking meditation and forest bathing

Some people say that walking here is like meditation. The virgin beech, Japanese oak, maple, and white cedar trees breathe with you. The whole concept of forest therapy focuses on that magical interaction. In late October, the turning of the leaves will take your breath away. In the snowy winter season, some of the falls may even freeze over, but the stream continues to flow. The area turns lush and green in spring and summer.

A word on the name

This area is known by several names in the guidebooks. This is a matter of translation and emphasis. Depending on where you look, you’ll see the area referred to as Oirase Gorge, Oirase Stream, and Oirase Mountain Stream. They are all the same idyllic place.

After the trail

Setting out from Yakeyama, the end of the trail is at Lake Towada in Nenokuchi. If you’re still up for more adventure, Nenokuchi offers activities like fishing and sightseeing cruises on the lake. Or, after all the exercise, you might prefer to relax at a restaurant and sample dishes of kokanee salmon and Japanese smelt caught in Lake Towada.

The Oirase Stream and Oirase Gorge in Aomori and Akita prefectures are a breathtaking natural wonder that draws visitors from all over the world. Its scenic beauty, with lush woods, waterfalls, and unique rock formations, has been an inspiration for artists and poets for centuries.

One of the highlights of the Oirase Gorge is the Choshi Falls, a spectacular waterfall with an impressive drop. The sight of the water cascading down the rocks is truly awe-inspiring. Another must-see attraction is the Deaibashi, also known as the Hook-up Bridge. This picturesque bridge offers a scenic view of the gorge and is a popular spot for visitors to take a leisurely stroll.

But perhaps the most enchanting aspect of the Oirase Gorge is the vibrant fall colors that adorn the landscape. During the autumn months, the foliage transforms into a breathtaking palette of reds, oranges, and yellows. The contrast between the colorful leaves and the clear blue waters of the stream creates a stunning visual spectacle that is not to be missed.

To reach the Oirase Gorge, the most convenient way is to take a JR bus from either Aomori or Hachinohe stations. The bus ride offers scenic views of the countryside and takes you directly to the trailhead. From there, you can choose to hike or cycle along the 14-kilometer trail that runs alongside the stream.

Hiking is a popular choice among visitors as it allows them to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of the surroundings. The trail takes you through dense forests, past cascading waterfalls, and over quaint wooden bridges. It is a journey of discovery, where every turn reveals a new natural wonder.

For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, cycling is an excellent option. Bicycles can be rented in Yakeyama, and you can ride one way, dropping it off in Nenokuchi at the end of the trail. This allows you to enjoy the scenery at your own pace while also getting some exercise.

As you make your way along the trail, you’ll encounter several notable waterfalls. Each waterfall has its own unique charm and is named accordingly. Soryu, meaning “Two Dragons,” is a majestic waterfall that resembles two dragons facing each other. Tomoshiraga, meaning “Life-Long Partnership,” is a waterfall that symbolizes the bond between two people. Shirakinu, meaning “White Silk,” is a delicate waterfall that resembles a flowing silk ribbon.

Walking along the Oirase Gorge is a meditative experience. The towering beech, oak, maple, and cedar trees create a serene atmosphere that is conducive to introspection. The concept of forest therapy, which emphasizes the healing power of nature, is particularly relevant in this enchanting setting. The sound of the flowing stream, the scent of the forest, and the gentle rustling of leaves create a harmonious symphony that soothes the soul.

In late October, the Oirase Gorge transforms into a magical wonderland as the leaves change color. The vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow create a surreal landscape that is straight out of a painting. It is a time when nature puts on its most spectacular show, and visitors are treated to a visual feast.

Even in winter, the Oirase Gorge retains its charm. While some of the waterfalls may freeze over, the stream continues to flow, creating a unique winter wonderland. The snow-covered trees and the frozen waterfalls create a serene and tranquil atmosphere that is perfect for a peaceful winter walk.

As spring arrives, the Oirase Gorge comes alive with new life. The trees burst into bloom, and the landscape is carpeted with vibrant green foliage. It is a time of renewal and rebirth, and the gorge is a testament to the beauty and resilience of nature.

After completing the trail, you’ll arrive at Lake Towada in Nenokuchi. This picturesque lake offers a range of activities for visitors to enjoy. Fishing enthusiasts can try their luck at catching kokanee salmon and Japanese smelt, which are abundant in the lake. Sightseeing cruises are also available, allowing visitors to explore the tranquil waters and admire the surrounding scenery.

In conclusion, the Oirase Stream and Oirase Gorge are a true natural wonder. Their scenic beauty, lush forests, and enchanting waterfalls make them a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you choose to hike or cycle along the trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views and a sense of serenity that is hard to find elsewhere. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to this magical place where fantasy meets reality.

Address And Maps Location:

Towada, Aomori-ken

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