Aomori, Japan Oct. 01 Sun 4:56PM
Fans of the outdoors who find themselves in the northern regions of Japan’s largest island Honshu should definitely take note of Hakkoda, a mountain range in Aomori Prefecture with a number of tucked-way attractions.
Among international travelers, it may be most well known for its stellar skiing, praised highly by hardcore skiers looking for fresh, deep powder snow without the large crowds of some other Japanese ski resorts, and a variety of terrains for riders of many skill sets.
Though not as well known and much more remote than Niseko in Hokkaido, for example, Hakkoda easily rivals it in volume and quality of powder snow and is more likely to have fresh, unexplored tracks for the adventurous skiers to enjoy. And while Hakkoda lacks in the vibrant nightlife, it makes up for it with the vast, uncrowded wilderness.
However, the region's attractions certainly aren’t limited to the realm of winter sports. The colorful autumn foliage from late September to mid-October is considered the most beautiful by many people, when hiking is a popular activity, as is riding on the Hakkoda Ropeway.
One popular hiking trail leads down Mt. Hakkoda via a steep set of stairs that connect two marshlands reflects the covers of all four seasons.
The trail eventually leads to Sukayu Onsen, a solitary ryokan complex in the middle of the wilderness, mostly known for its huge hot spring bath dating from the Edo era in an atmospheric old wooden building. The bath is rare in that it allows for mixed-gender bathing in the same room, but more shy guests should take comfort in the fact that the areas that males and females enter are partitioned off, and the room is so steamy that one side is hardly visible from another. There are also two females-only hours in the morning and evening.
The path continues, crossing over the stunning Jogakura Bridge and passing the occasional onsen ryokan here and there, all the way to Lake Towada, another spot especially famous for autumn colors.
The area is easily accessible by bus from JR Aomori Station, and buses can be used to get around most of the major spots.