What is Shirakami-Sanchi?
Shirakami-Sanchi is a wilderness area covering one-third of Shirakami Mountain Range and has the largest remaining virgin beech forest in East Asia. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and parts of the area require special permission to enter.
We walked around the non-exclusive area and saw several beautiful ponds which are part of 十二湖 (Juuniko, “Twelve Lakes”). Interestingly enough, there are actually 33 ponds which make up Juuniko. So, why was it named “Twelve Lakes”? Apparently, it is because there appear to be 12 lakes when viewed from Mt. Kuzureyama.
Probably the most famous pond is 青池 (Aoike, “Blue Pond”). You can see trees that are underwater and the reflection of trees above water at the same time. It is really beautiful and mysterious.
How to get there
We set off from Goshogawara, Seiya’s hometown. This is the route we took (by car).
There is a parking lot which you can use for 400 yen that is really close to the start of the walking course and also has good facilities.
By Train and Bus
From Goshogawara, you can take the JR Gono Line. The “Resort Shirakami Limited Express” train is especially popular. Get off at 十二湖駅 (Juuniko Station) and then get on a bus to 奥十二湖駐車場 (Oku-Juuniko Parking Lot)
The Walking Course
We followed this walking course which we found on the Shirakami Visitor Website:
The route is estimated to take an hour and a half, including a 10 minute break. We didn’t time it, but we stopped a lot to take pictures so we might have taken more time.
The route starts off at a place called “Kyororo” so we parked there (400yen):
They sell souvenirs and food and there is a bathroom which you can use for free.
After using the bathroom and buying some Matcha (Green Tea) flavored ice-cream, we started our walking course.
As I mentioned earlier, there are actually 33 ponds in the area. I only got around to seeing maybe 10 of them. Some of them were blue and some were green, but all were beautiful.
The reflection of the hills on the other side of the pond were breathtaking.
We found a cute little Pooh-bear figure that somebody placed in a tree next to this beautiful pond.
This Clear Blue Pond is 9 meters (about 30ft) deep!!
A kind stranger offered to take our picture♡
There are several beautiful wild birds which can be seen in this area. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a glimpse of any of them.
One of the main sights in the area is the ブナ自然林 or Natural Beech Forest.
Seiya, feeling the spiritual power from this old mother tree.
There are also many other kinds of trees, some of which I had never seen or noticed before. From left to right, it reads “mizunara, katsura, tochi, itayakaede, hinokiasunaro.”
And if you thought the only blue pond was Aoike, well you might just be surprised!
I like how you can really see the branches under water in this picture.
The Last Stop: Relaxing with Japanese Green Tea
The last stop on the walking course is a place where you can sit and enjoy a relaxing cup of tea while looking at the beautiful scenery and listening to the sound of the creek.
The water here is famous for being super clean and delicious. Supposedly, you can drink it straight from the river!
Other Things to See Nearby
Aone and Herb Cafe
On the way to Kyororo, we stopped at アオーネ (Aone) Herb Cafe for lunch.
The interior was really nice and the lighting was great for taking pictures!
I ordered a berry waffle with Beauty-Blend Tea (Hibiscus and Rosehip) and Seiya ordered beef curry and Eucalyptus Tea.
Aone has many facilities and services including cabins, hot springs, restaurants, and guided tours.
This is the address: 〒038-2206 青森県西津軽郡深浦町大字松神字下浜松14
The Oldest Ginkgo Tree in Japan
This Ginkgo tree is 31 meters (about 102 feet) tall and is estimated to be over 1,000 years old.
Can you believe this is all part of the same tree??
This is the address: 〒038-2504 青森県西津軽郡深浦町北金ケ沢塩見形３５６
This bedrock beach is called the 千畳敷海岸 (Senjojiki-Kaigan) or Senjojiki Coast. It was formed by an earthquake in 1792.
Apparently, the sunset is really amazing. It was even chosen as one of the “100 best sunsets in Japan”.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stick around for the sunset. Maybe next time!
This concludes my summary of the Shirakami-Sanchi area as I experienced it! Since I went there in the summer, I would like to try to visit in the fall next time! I heard that the leaves are really beautiful around October. Please visit this area if you get the chance!