By Karyn Lo
While most people are aware of the numerous water falls to be found in the stunningly beautiful Oirase Gorge (worth going to every season of the year, just sayin’), this UNESCO World Heritage site is another hiking area where Aomori smacks you in the face with a combination of breathtaking nature and powerful water features.
Shirakami Sanchi is a mountainous range that covers around 130,00ha (or ~500 square miles, for those who are so inclined) of land. The forests are filled with beech trees that are not only anciently impressive but also make up “the last remaining virgin forest of Siebold’s beech trees.” It became the first World Heritage site in Japan in 1993, solidifying Aomori as the coolest ken in school. Go Aomori!!
Technically I have already mentioned Shirakami Sanchi in my previous article, about the Juniko Lakes. If you haven’t been there yet, I highly recommend it during autumn. The foliage is absolutely stunning. However, this article is going to focus on one of the other popular attractions in this beech forest: The hike to the Anmon Waterfalls!
The Anmon Waterfalls are the end goal to an excellent hike through the forest. The 2 hour walk (Anmon-no-Taki) is relatively easy-going. Finding the parking area may put your keen eyes to the test, but the only real challenge to the hike is found in the final approach towards the waterfall itself (especially if it’s been raining).
The “falls” are actually three different tiers of the same waterfall – 42m, 37m, 26m – making it just over 100m of majestically falling water!
There’s even talk of being able to swim in a pool above the top fall if you make it all the way up! We weren’t able to make when we went (the rain from a previous day caused a landslide that blocked the final path), so plan ahead to miss those rainy weekends if you want to get your swim gear on!
Closed: mid-November to late April
AquaGreenAnmon Village: 417 Okawazoe Kawaratai Nishimeya Aomori-ken 036-1424
These buses only run from July to November! Usually the mountains are closed off for winter. I’d recommend driving, with a solid GPS connection.
Hirosaki Station (Bus Stop ) – Konan Bus Shirakami Line 2 . Get off at Aqua Green Village Anmon bus stop (Shirakami Sanchi Kuchi Tsugaru Toge).
Haven’t made it to Juniko Lakes yet? Check out this previous article!
If you are taking the bus, then plan ahead with a bus timetable (available at most major train stations). There are usually only two buses per day, and the trip is around 70 minutes.
Bug spray. Copious amounts of it. You have been warned.
JUST ANOTHER REMINDER: When it has been raining, the trail can be very muddy and slippery. Landslides also can happen, so some paths up to the waterfall may be closed. Plan ahead for the best weather (and a potential swim!)