2012/10/11 – Hachimantai Report
Today Schauwecker and I continued our Tohoku Region reporting with a visit to the Hachimantai area of Towada-Hachimantai National Park. We arrived in Morioka by train and rented a car for the one hour drive to the mountain.
The weather forecast for the area was not very optimistic, but fortunately our arrival at the mountain coincided with a break in the rain. It was especially lucky as the autumn colors (koyo) on the lower slopes of Hachimantai were around the peak today.
Around Hachimantai’s lower slopes
Looking out over the slopes below
Bright yellow, red and orange mountain shrubs
The leaves were a little greener further up the mountain
Soon we arrived at the top of the relatively flat, plateau-like peak of Mount Hachimantai. After parking, we explored part of the trail which passes several lakes on the way to the summit.
Unfortunately, the leaves around the roughly 1600 meter mountaintop were past their peak and were already turning brown.
The muted colors around the top of Mount Hachimantai
The trail up the mountain led mostly through sasa grass and evergreen trees
Hikers heading out just before it started pouring
The slopes on the Iwate side of the mountain
Not much color left around the Hachiman-numa pond
This nanakamado has seen better days
We returned to the car and drove a little ways down the Akita Prefecture side of the mountain to Fukenoyu Onsen. This small valley has a nice hot spring field with some really rustic outdoor baths right in the middle of the rocky terrain. It ended up being one of the best bathing experiences I’ve had, despite the difficulties of changing out in the open during a thunderstorm.
The hot spring field had four outdoor baths
The colors around the hot spring field were also very good and could be enjoyed directly from the baths
After leaving the bath we drove for a few more minutes to Onuma Pond. It was pouring at the time so we only briefly jumped out of the car to get some pictures.
Red leaves and yellow grasses could be seen around Onuma Pond
A closeup of one of the red trees
Though still a bit early, this road is one of the best views in Hachimantai when at the peak
Our last stop of the day was at Goshogake Onsen, a hot spring in the northwestern corner of the park. We briefly explored the network of trails that lead around the area’s beautiful hot spring field, stopping to take pictures of its bubbling hells and billowing steam vents.
Walking along the paths though the hells
The koyo colors were right around the peak
Beautiful red and yellow leaves could be seen along the trails