If you like doing outdoor activities or simply enjoy the fresh air, you may want to go to Shirakami for the excursion. This is one natural area in Japan that is known for its hiking trails leading to waterfalls, lakes, mountain peaks, and forests. Shirakami Sanchi was included in World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1993. The area is located in the northern area of Tohoku. It is on the border between Akita and Aomori prefectures.
As it was mentioned before, the signature characteristic of Shirakami Sanchi is the hiking trails – one of which will lead you to Anmon Falls located on the northeastern area. Anmon Falls consists of 3 waterfalls which provide unique as well s challenging experience to visitors. It takes 90 minutes to the falls from the start. You should be able to reach the first waterfall in 45 minutes. Afterward, you should be able to reach the second one – 10 minutes from the first waterfall. Most people would rest in this second waterfall. If you continue further, you should be able to reach the third (and also the tallest) waterfall in 15 minutes from the second one.
Juniko or Twelve Lakes
This is another popular spot for Shirakami exploration. Juniko consists of small ponds and lakes connected by the (hiking) trails. The lake is located on the northwestern area of Shirakami – which surprisingly goes along the Japan Sea coast. Because of the unique combination, the area has beautiful view and scenes, such as camping ground, boating, fishing, and hiking. You should be able to see Aoike, one of the ponds with super blue (and almost unnaturally) water. If you want to learn more about the area, there is the Eco-Museum Center Juniko Kokyokan.
If you are familiar with the Grand Canyon, do you know that Japan has the miniature version of it? Yes, the canyon has colorful grey and brown rock formation taking place at Juniko’s entrance. There is a walking trail that will connect Juniko’s ponds and lakes with the canyon. The area is breathtaking and beautiful. But the access will be closed from late November to March.
This hiking trail is considered easy and it is located on the southwestern area of Shirakami. Accessing the trail is pretty easy, especially from the parking lot. It is quite steep but you only need to spend an hour to reach the peak. Once you get to the top, you will be rewarded with amazing views.
There are also other trails, such as the one leading to Shirakamidake, the smaller trail of Dairakyo Gorge, and also another trail to Mount Komagatake.
How to Reach Shirakami
If you want to explore the area, using the car is the best way because public transportation is pretty limited. Rental cars are available in Akita, Hirosaki, Odate, and Noshiro. Keep in mind that the main roads only have 3 routes which lead to different destinations. Find out more about these routes before going out to the area.
Using the train will be possible too. You can use JR Gono Line that goes around the northern and western areas of Shirakami. There is Resort Shirakami that stops at Juniko, running between Hirosaki and Akita. The train fare is about 2500 yen from Akita to Juniko Station. From Higashi-Noshiro, it takes 970 yen to Juniko Station. Access to Juniko will be closed during winter.
If you use the bus, it runs between the Anmon Falls trailheads and Hirosaki. It takes 1650 yen from Hirosaki to Anmon Falls. The roundtrip fare is 2470 yen.
If you are interested in visiting Shirakami during your holiday in Japan, you should book early. Don’t forget to manage your flights with Airpaz and plan your itinerary from now.