A short bullet train ride from Tokyo but a world apart, Towada-Hachimantai National Park is a land full of contrast. The area has Japan’s deepest snowfall, which carpets the mountains and dense forests in pure white and covers trees in thick frost. Yet, even in the remotest reaches of the snowy landscape, steam rising from hot springs breaks the icy spell. Read more about this landscape's spellbinding beauty.
Towada-Hachimantai National Park, like all of Japan's national parks, has no entrance fees, no opening and closing hours, and no permit is required to enter or stay in the park. The national parks of Japan differ from national parks worldwide in that the land within the national parks is not exclusively designated for national park use and is made up of private property as well as public and protected areas. Visitors are free to enter and leave at any time.
Towada-Hachimantai National Park is in the mountains of Northern Honshu. The Towada-Hakkoda region, the park's northern area, contains Mt. Hakkoda, Lake Towada, and Oirase Gorge, while the Hachimantai region, the southern section, has Mt. Hachimantai, Mt. Akita-Komagatake and Mt. Iwate.
The park's mountainous landscape is heavily forested and dotted with marshes. Highlights include viewing Lake Towada from mountains around the outer rim or by taking a cruise tour. Take in enchanting waterfall views from Oirase Stream and bathe in the high-quality hot springs around the foot of Mt. Hakkoda and Mt. Hachimantai, each of which has a distinct character.
The Hakkoda Mountain Range spans a group of volcanoes, with 1,585-meter-tall Mt. Odake its highest peak. Surround yourself in the natural forests of Japanese beech and Aomori-Todomatsu trees that cover these mountains. These mountains have well-maintained hiking trails and a ropeway that runs year round.
Lake Towada is a caldera lake formed by volcanic activity that began approximately 200,000 years ago. The quiet surface and rich greenery create a primeval landscape. Views of the lake change with the seasons and perspective, such as from the lakeside footpath or sightseeing boats on the water.
The Oirase Gorge is a 14-kilometer-long, U-shaped valley that was carved out by the Oirase Stream that flows out of Lake Towada. The clear water, constantly changing flow, mossy rocks, forests that cover the banks, and numerous waterfalls all come together to create one of the most scenic locations in Japan.
Mt. Akita-Komagatake is the collective name for the southern area's highest peak, Mt. Oname (1,637 meters), and multiple surrounding caldera hills. The mountain is well known for its alpine plants such as Dicentra peregrina and takanesumire (Viola crassa), while the hillside onsen are popular for their rustic atmosphere.
Stratovolcano Mt. Iwate (2,038 meters) is the tallest mountain in Iwate Prefecture, located away from the main ridges of the Ou Mountains. Hike around the summit's crater wall for 360-degree views and Kannon statues, remnants of the mountain's long spiritual history. Also check out the Yakebashiri lava flow along the northeastern base.