Oirase – 奥入瀬
Today I would like to introduce Oirase, in Aomori Prefecture.
What’s special about Oirase?
Oirase is a small river streaming from the banks of Lake Towada in Aomori Prefecture. This river follows the Oirase Valley and on the way it is possible to see countless small waterfalls and painting-like beautiful forests. During spring and summer the incredibly lush vegetation is beautiful, and if you visit it during the autumn, the variety of autumn colours is impressive.
The Oirase River is about 9 kilometers long. During the autumn weekends there could be quite many tourists coming to see the autumn colours. Nevertheless, I think it’s the most suitable place to do some soothing hiking. The difficulty level of the hiking route is not too high, and it’s popular either with beginners and families with kids.
Moreover, since the Oirase River flows from the Towada Lake, you can also take the occasion to visit the latter too. Lake Towada is the biggest caldera lake in Tōhoku, and the surrounding mountains can be very beautiful, especially when their top is covered by snow. Especially during the autumn you can enjoy a cruise across the lake to see the autumn colours.
How to get there
Let’s enter the Aomori prefecture first.
From Tokyo take the Hayate Shinkansen to Hachinohe Station. From there take a JR Tōhoku Bus to Towada Lake and get off at the Oirase stop. There are many stops along the Oirase river, but if you want to get off at the beginning of the river your stop is Yakeyama.
From the Aomori prefecture
When you want to visit Oirase or the Towada Lake from Aomori city, there are buses leaving Aomori Station.
Information about fares and other things:
The Shinkansen ticket from Tokyo costs about 15.000 yen. Since all seats are reserved seats we suggested you to book in advance, especially during weekends and peak periods.
The train journey is covered by the Japan Rail Pass, although the East Japan only version doesn’t cover the JR Bus section.
For information about fares and anything else about JR Tohoku Bus please refer to the official website http://tinyurl.com/p4fs4o8 (English)
Travelling by plane
If you use the plane, the airports nearest to the Towada lake are the Aomori Airport and the Misawa airport. Both airports are connected with the Haneda airport.
Also, if you want to visit the surroundings of the lake more freely, I suggest using your car or renting one (available at the main train stations). Since the bus goes back and forth only to the southern part of the lake, using a car allows you to go all around the lake. However, during the autumn, when there are more tourists, there could be traffic restrictions on the road along the lake.
My impression of the Oirase river
I went to Oirase by car, together with a friend. First we parked the car at Yakeyama, where the river starts (be careful because there are places where parking is forbidden), then we followed the promenade towards the mouth of the river.
We went there in June, and because of the melting snow there was an extreme amount of water, and the waterfalls were strong and vigorous. Among the several waterfalls, the one who impressed me the most was Chōshiōtaki.
Since I like taking photos, I tried to take long exposures of the flowing water. I was able to take photos with a bit of a magical mood, and I was pretty satisfied. Around me other photography enthusiasts were engaged in taking photos.
After walking along the promenade for nearly two hours, the Towada Lake appeared before our eyes. In this area, called Nenokuchi, around the lake shore there are restaurants and many other facilities. There you can rent a boat or take a 50 minute long round trip on a ferry.
We got back to the parking area where we had left our car riding rental bicycles.
I think I rent it for around 700 yen (this tariff allows you to leave the bicycle at a different station than the one you rented it).
Oirase is a place with beautiful fresh vegetation and flowing water, and there are many picturesque sceneries, like the Chōshiōtaki waterfall. Other than waterfalls we were able to see many other named spots, like Samidare stream or Ashura stream. The next time I definitely want to visit it during the autumn.