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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
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 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
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare 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
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving 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
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
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 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

Shirakami Sanchi (Aomori) 白神山地(青森)

Wilderness primeval, calling to intrepid trekkers and outdoor lovers everywhere

The Shirakami Sanchi mountain range borders two northern prefectures, Akita and Aomori, and encompasses Japan's largest virgin beech forest, one of Japan's first two UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites. This hiker's paradise covers more than 130,000 hectares with an equally impressive array of peaks, lakes, trails, gorges and valleys.

Prime destinations for many travelers to the area include the Juniko lakes, Anmon Falls and Dairakyo Gorge. Any of these will thrill outdoor lovers, as will Aoike, a pond whose palette of blues changes with the weather and the season.

Don't Miss

  • Taking a few of the 12 trails that start at the Shirakami Sanchi Visitor Center
  • The Mother Tree course—an easy trek to a 400-year-old beech tree
  • The Mt. Shirakami Trail and Juniko lake course—for hardcore hikers

How to Get There

You can get close to the Shirakami Sanchi area via train and bus, but renting a car after that is the best option.

From Hirosaki Station in Aomori Prefecture, the Shirakami Sanchi Visitor Center is an hour away by the Konan bus bound for Tsugaru-Toge. From Akita, a train will get you to the same station in about the same time.

You can get to a few other specific destinations such as the Juniko lakes and Anmon Falls using public transportation. Once you arrive, however, getting around the area generally means hiking unless you have a car.

Japan's outback, on the grandest scale imaginable

The Shirakami area extends as far as you can see, and all of it is pristine forest filled with beautiful lakes, clean trails, raised walkways and ponds. What you'll hear are birds, wild animals and the sound of water and wind. Other people tend to be few and far between, which is what traveling in the outback is all about.

A sea of beeches

Many of the old-growth virgin beech trees in Shirakami Sanchi are more than 200 years old. Compared to ancient trees in other parts of the world, that may seem young. However, the size of these trees, with their thick green trunks and knotty limbs, is majestic.

Be sure to see at least one

Some of the locations you should focus on in Shirakami Sanchi are the Juniko (Twelve Lakes), the three falls that comprise Anmon Falls, and Aoike Pond. There are actually more than 33 lakes in the Juniko area.

There's also is a site called Nihon Canyon that offers a miniature version of the Grand Canyon in the U.S. The washed-out rock formations are captivating, and you can see them up close. You should also try to take one of the small networks of walking trails to scenic Dairakyo Gorge, especially if you're there in the fall.

Other than a few mountain climber's paths, the parts of Shirakami Sanchi designated a World Natural Heritage Site are still mostly unexplored. The areas outside of this core are somewhat more accessible. But it is still mostly hiking trails. Put on your hiking shoes and explore.

For some background on what you'll see

You can learn about the Shirakami Sanchi area at the Shirakami Mountains Visitor Center and also the Shirakami World Heritage Center. While videos and most information is in Japanese, you'll also find materials in English.

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