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As we stood on the Kankodai Observatory overlooking the deepest section of Lake Towada Japan we were in awe of this “sea of clouds”. It had a mystical dreamy appearance as though a sea monster was going to rise from the depths. We waited in silence, however all we could spy in the distance was a small boat and the long wake it left behind on the dark blue velvet waters.
Lake Towada is located in the Aomori Prefecture, Tohoku on Honshu, the largest of Japan’s islands. The double caldera lake was formed by volcanic activity eons ago and its outer rim consists of 600 to 1,000 metre high mountains, including Mt Towada and Mt Ohanabe. With a depth of 327m, it is the third deepest lake in Japan and is the largest crater lake on Honshu.
Lake Towada’s shores are largely undeveloped as a national park with lush green forests surrounding the shores. However, the small town of Yasumiya offers a few minor attractions, including the Towada Shrine, a small nature museum, and a statue depicting young Tohoku women, installed to commemorate the area’s designation as a national park. Yasumiya is also where sightseeing ferry boats operate from.
A visit to the Towada Visitor Centre gave us a great overview of how the lake was formed with a large model of the lake, the flora and fauna of Lake Towada and how it changes throughout the different seasons.
The best way to see the lake is out on the water on a sightseeing ferry which operates along two different courses: on a circular course that starts and ends in Yasumiya, and between Yasumiya and Nenokuchi. You can also get out on the lake on a canoe tour or why not paddle one of the cute swan boats that are available for hire.
Guided walking tours are also available with the Lake Towada Nature Guide Club who depart daily for a walk around the shoreline of the lake.
Lake Towada is particularly popular during autumn when the foliage on the trees on the surrounding mountains burst into brilliant colour. Autumn is also the season for Kokanee Salmon fishing in the lake.
Our accommodation during our one night stay was at the Towada Prince Hotel which is situated right on the lakefront on the west side of the lake and opposite to the township of Yasumiya. This lodge-like hotel offers majestic views of the lake with an open grassy area directly in front which is ideal for relaxing.
Other facilities at the hotel include a natural hot spring (or onsen), 2 tennis courts, a large lobby lounge area where you can enjoy a coffee or tea, gift shop and a Restaurant that serves up French cuisine.
Directly in front of the hotel are extensive pathways that wind through the woods around the lakeside. A large pier, where the ferry stops is also within a short walking distance to the hotel. This is a great spot to throw a line in.
The lake’s only outlet is the Oirase Stream located at the eastern shore. The Oirase Gorge is one of the main natural attractions in the region and is a must see when visiting Lake Towada.
The Gorge runs 14km between Yakeyama at the foot of Hakkoda-san and Nenokuchi on the shore of Lake Towada. Yakeyama is the established starting point for visitors trekking the Oirase Gorge. Bicycles are available for rent at either end of the Oirase Gorge at Nenokuchi or Yakeyama.
You can walk along the entire length of the scenic gorge where you will experience crystal clear streams, icy rapids, plunging waterfalls, interesting rock formations and a densely vegetated deciduous forest which is a spectacle in autumn.
The hiking trail follows the gorge and crisscrosses the stream in several places via wooden bridges. There are many spectacular waterfalls to see along the way including Kumoi, Shiraito, Furo, Kudan and Choshi Ootaki Waterfalls. There is also good trout fishing in the stream.
Lake Towado and Oirase Gorge is where you can relax and slowdown and really immerse yourself in nature. I could easily lose myself in the mystique and beauty of this area. It is pure and simple – nature at her best!
How To Get to Lake Towada: It is best to travel by car but you can take a bus from Hachinohe Station (2 hrs 20 min), Aomori Station (3 hrs) or Towada Minami Station (55 mins) to Yasumiya and then a shuttle service is available from Towada Prince Hotel or a taxi service.
There are domestic flights available from Tokyo to Aomori with ANA (All Nippon Airways) and then you can catch a train to Towada.
Where We Stayed at Lake Towada: Towada Prince Hotel on the shore of the lake.
Have you travelled to Japan? Which parts have you visited?
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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JanAugust 23, 2016
That looks heavenly Kathy and very very peaceful. I’m not sure I will ever get Rowan to Japan but it looks like a Country of such contrasts.
KathyAugust 23, 2016
It was a stunning area in Japan. Can you imagine how gorgeous it would be in autumn with all the coloured foliage? I loved every bit of Japan – it is such an interesting country. :)
NOMAD/nester _ Julie SmallAugust 23, 2016
That looks like a lovely place to relax and your words are so evocative – I so want to get to Japan and your stories are convincing me it’s definitfly a place to visit. Maybe on my agenda for 2017…hmmmm
KathyAugust 24, 2016
Lake Towada and Oirase Gorge were delightful and I could imagine that the Japanese would flock here during the warmer months for some R&R. It is so interesting that when you visit a new country and you are taken to out of the way places like this and discover just how amazing it is. One of the things I love about travel! :)
Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)August 24, 2016
I just love those low, understated Japanese bridges. The swan boats are cute too. It looks like a gorgeous place to visit.
KathyAugust 25, 2016
Lake Towada was such a pretty spot. I could easily return here to explore some more. :)
Rhonda Albom (@RhondaAlbom)August 25, 2016
This lake ticks all the boxes for me. Serene, mist on the water, waterfalls, green forests and hills. I want to visit.
KathyAugust 25, 2016
It’s beautiful isn’t it Rhonda? Japan surprised me on so many levels. :)