Off Route

Oirase Gorge: A Gorgeous Gorge

By Amanda Lynn Marcroft

Last issue I encouraged you all to get out of our little prefecture and check out the beautiful autumn leaves at Yamadera, and I hope you took it to heart. I have a confession to make though; one of the top ranked places for autumn colours nation-wide is actually right here in Aomori: Oirase Gorge.

kitatohoku_img01 Contrary to all logic, Oirase Gorge is not actually located in Oirase (sorry guys, at least you’ve got the mall). In fact, it’s located around Towada on the Nambu side and is the outlet of Lake Towada. While the lake has some excellent hiking and is definitely worth a visit at any time of the year, it is at its finest in late October and November when the leaves are bursting with colour.

oirase onsen

Leaves in the bathwater is part of the experience

Oirase is truly spectacular and a fan-favourite among fall leaf seekers throughout the country. On the downside, that can mean a bit of congestion during peak season. But on the upside, it means practically every way you can imagine enjoying the colourful display has already been thought of and capitalized upon for ease and comfort. Want to bike through? Rent there! Bus tour? Of course! Want to hike but not carry all your stuff? Hire a taxi to drop it at the other end! And of course, if you don’t want to get closer to the bugs nature by camping, there are several places to stay ranging from reasonable to ryokan—but why not splurge? How often do you get to bathe outside surrounded by such a fantastic display of foliage!

Oirase-Gorge2-300x199

Calm those pre-wedding jitters with fall colours!

It’s hard to really incite anyone to tree-watching with just words. Stunning! Majestic! Orange-y! It only does so much. So I’ll just leave some pictures here and hope they and your neighbors convince you to come check out Aomori’s hotspot for autumn. Happy trails!

d49eb5cf98

Oirase! (Also comes in green)

More Info:

  • There’s no fee for the lake but everything else is on you
  • Always bring a sweater—walking fast only helps so much

Getting There:

  • Drive!

The most convenient and common option; Oirase Gorge is extremely accessible by vehicle. Beware though! In peak season the road is sometimes closed to motor traffic so check ahead

  • Bus!

Sadly, there are no train options but buses leave regularly from Aomori and Hachinohe

Getting Out:

  • While there’s plenty available at the lake be sure to also check out neighboring Towada City for good food and fellow foreigners

Travel Tip:

If you haven’t gotten your winter travel plans hashed out yet, hop to it. International travel is best booked three months in advance and while some fantastic deals can be had last minute you don’t want to risk being the next little match girl.

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One thought on “Oirase Gorge: A Gorgeous Gorge

  1. Pingback: October 2014, Vol. 1 | Good Morning Aomori produced by Aomori AJET

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