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Lake Shirakawa’s Submerged Forest

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Lake Shirakawa’s Submerged Forest


Experience an otherworldly springtime landscape

Yamagata Prefectural Government



Each spring, a submerged forest appears at Lake Shirakawa in Japan’s Tōhoku region. As the thick snow of winter melts, the white yanagi trees are soaked up to the trunk, making it appear as though they are growing straight out of the clean, blue waters of the lake.


Only lasting for about a month (mid-April to mid-May), this spectacular natural phenomenon known as suibotsurin (submerged forest) is best experienced up close. Walk through the area in the early morning to see the trees shrouded in mist, like a scene from a fairy tale; or navigate your way between the trunks by kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard.


The scenery around Lake Shirakawa has something to offer in every season. Also in May, the late-blooming cherry trees blossom beautifully. Come summer, you’ll welcome a chance to cool off by throwing snowballs at the Snow Egg Festival, before an evening fireworks display. The forest around the lake is painted in shades of yellow and gold each fall, as the leaves change colour. And finally, the return of winter brings deep snow to the surrounding mountains and ice to the lake.


Whichever time of year you visit, you can immerse yourself in the refreshing natural landscape with a stay at the Shirakawa Dam campground. As well as activities like cycling, hiking and kayaking, you enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the park’s own golf course.


How to get there


50 minutes by JR train from Yonezawa Station (a stop on the Yamagata Shinkansen line) to Tenoko Station. From Tenoko Station it is 20 minutes by car.



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