What to See in the Shirakami-Sanchi Beech Forest
Shirakami-Sanchi is a vast mountain district straddling both Aomori and Akita. Its primeval beech forest that remains intact from civilization is registered as the World Heritage Site. Here is a list of things to see in this huge forest both from Aomori side and Akita side.
From the southwest part of Aomori to Northwest part of Akita, "Shirakami-Sanchi" is a mountain district that covers about 13,000ha. There is one of the biggest primeval forest of beech trees and it is home to a vast variety of animals and plants. Its ecosystem is one of the few that has never been open to any human activity.
To enter the central part of the area that is registered as the World Heritage Site and some buffer zone, you need to get permission before hand, but the recommended places included in this list are the ones you can casually go without any permission.
Things to See -Aomori Side-
Juniko Lakes is a collective name given to 33 lakes surrounded by the beech trees in the West bottom of the mountain in the Aomori side. The word Juniko directly translates to "twelve lakes" and named so as you could see 12 lakes when you look at the area from the mountain nearby. One famous lake is the cobalt blue Aoike, and some tourists come to this place only to see the mystic beauty of the pond.
Its walking trail that is open from early April to late November starts at the local product store, Kyororo. While hiking this trail in beech forest, you could see the blue pond as well as Wakitsubo Pond which has such clear water.
3.5h from Aomori Station with public transportation. Catch a bus at JR Juniko Station and get off at Oku-juniko Chushajo (Aoike). There is a bus every hour. If you have a car, it takes about 3 hours.
For those who want to enjoy a hiking experience unique to Shirakami Sanchi, the Shirakami Promenade (adults: 500 JPY)is highly recommended. In this spot, you could see almost the same sort of plants and trees as the restricted central area of the mountain.
There are 3 trekking trails (required time of around 45 minutes to 2 hours) in this area with the area of about 52ha, and you could see a whole bunch of beech trees as well as some animals and other plants. *Closed for Winter (Nov. - mid Apr.)
The use of taxi or rental car will be necessary for a 30-min drive from JR Ajigasawa Station or a 2-hour drive from the city of Aomori.
Things to See -Akita Side-
From spring to summer, colorful alpine plants bloom in the Tanashiro Wetland. Located at the foot of Mt. Fujisatokomagatake" it is 15 min away from the Kuroishi trail head.
Coinciding with snow thaw, Asian skunk cabbage with beautiful white flowers come into full bloom. In early July, orange-yellow day lilies will cover the both sides of the organized wooden trail, which is overwhelmingly beautiful. Hiking around the wetland doesn't require full, heavy equipment, so you can casually visit the place. *Closed for Winter (Nov. - Apr.)
The use of taxi and rental car will be necessary for a 1.5-hour drive from JR Futatsui Station or a 3-hour drive from Akita.
Dakedai Natural Observatory Forest
Dakedai Natural Observatory Forest is another area that has basically the same ecosystem as the World Heritage area. There is a trail (1 hour round trip) surrounded by beech trees and giant rocks covered with moss.
One thing you cannot miss is the 400 years old beech, which has become the symbolic feature of Akita side of Shirakami-Sanchi. It is one huge beech tree with the estimated age of about 400, which is far past the average life expectancy of beech tree. *Closed for WInter (Nov. - Apr.)
The use of taxi and rental car will be necessary. It's about 1.5-hour drive from JR Futatsui Station or a 2.5-hour drive from Akita.
You will need hiking boots, backpack, and rain gear when you go hiking in the mountain trail. Keep in mind that each spot could be closed due to the season or traffic situation, so be sure to check the information before hand.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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