Aomori, Japan Feb. 28 Wed 11:50AM
Spared the scourge of the glaciers that wiped most of the Earth’s once-plentiful beech forests off the face of the ancient world, the Shirakami mountain range,or Shirakami Sanchi spreading across Aomori and Akita prefectures is a series of light beeches punctuated by numberless streams and waterfalls, slopes, valleys and gorges that are like Japan’s answer to the Grand Canyon. As yet a mostly undiscovered and uninhabited sanctuary, the Shirakami Sanchi is a must for those who want to treat their eyes with nature’s magic.
Hikers, explorers, bird and animal watchers, and fishers alike will enjoy the area’s special biodiversity, as there are many species of plants and animals only existing in this region. That together with the brilliant color of the water the profusely flowing through its forests and gorges, especially in summer, can accurately be described as “otherworldly.” In fact the area, along with Yakushima in the far south, was one of the area’s that inspired Studio Ghibli when making Princess Mononoke.
The deeply hidden, crystal like Anmon no Taki (“Shadow Gate Falls”), Juniko (“Twelve Lakes”) and Tanashiro Swamp are all like worlds unto themselves, but in this fascinatingly diverse region they blend into one another, welcoming the trekker to get lost and roam freely.
Tohoku already had no shortage of natural wonders, but Shirakami Sanchi is a good contender for the top of that list.
Travellers are recommended to start from Hirosaki in Aomori and take the Ou line to Noshiro, from whence they can board the Gono Line that goes around the edges of the mountain range. Buses are also available form Hirosaki.