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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Nature

Oirase Stream 奥入瀬川

A gorgeous gorge and stream 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.

Tips

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

How to Get There

The Oirase Stream is most easily reached by JR bus from either Aomori or Hachinohe stations.

From either station, you’ll take the bus bound for Towada-ko. Get off at Yakeyama. From the bus stop, you can easily walk to the trailhead for the Oirase Stream.

Wander along 14 kilometers of bliss

The best ways to experience the Oirase Stream are by walking 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 (Happy Marriage) 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. In fact, 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

Oirase Stream is known by several names in the guidebooks. This is a matter of translation and of emphasis. Depending on where you look, you'll see the area referred to as 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 or café and trying Oirase’s popular craft beer.

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