Traveling through Hachimantai in a rental car with your family? Great idea! If you know to do that, you probably already know about the Salad Farm- a rather expansive area with all kinds of great activities and food to enjoy! Whether you’d like to buy house plants, create your own “moss ball” with a plant growing out of it, pick fresh strawberries, relax in a cafe, or or meet the cutest Alpacas that you’ve ever seen – the Salad Farm is the place! Another of the facilities were renovated recently, and there’s a large new garden area with ponds, all kinds of flowers, and great views of the surrounding mountains. And don’t miss the chance to try their delicious gelato!
So after you’ve explored the Hachimantai Summit area and walked around the alpine marshlands there, zip down to the Salad Farm for dessert!
Full details here: https://trip8.jp/listings/salad-farm-2/
Now is the perfect time to visit Goshiki Pond in Hachimantai! While it changes color throughout the year and thus warrants multiple visits, if you were only going to see it once, now would be the time! Around late August and early September, just after the end of the rainy season in Japan, the pond is at its most radiant. The bright azure color of the water right now is further accentuated by the red clay that surrounds the pond. Its location right next to another scenic lake, this one not augmented by subterranean minerals and thus normal (though beautiful) in color, makes the special character of Goshiki Pond even more pronounced!
This area is easy to reach, just a 15 to 20 minute walk from the parking lot on the Hachimantai Aspite Line. (Here: https://goo.gl/maps/i4N8C9CsW7dFDMLc9)
And if you visit this area, there are so many other things for you to enjoy nearby! From the ruins of the Midorigaoka apartment ruins near the Matsuo Mine site, to the alpine wetlands near the summit of Mt. Hachimantai- this entire area is a paradise for those that appreciate the great outdoors! And we haven’t even entered the delicious season of autumn colors….!
Detailed information on Goshiki Pond here: https://trip8.jp/listings/goshiki-pond/
This year and last a secret tour was held among a small group in Hachimantai organized by The Hachimantai Farm Stay Council. We were testing and refining the content that is now emerging into the light of day. Allow me to introduce “Hachimantai Auberge Washinooo & Onsen” – a sake-lover’s dream tour of Hachimantai! (more…)
The Nanataki Waterfall in Hachimantai is about 80% frozen now! Hopefully in another few days it will be completely solid!
I was able to hike out there today to check on its progress. Another beautiful day with fresh powder snow covering the forest. It took about 40 minutes to walk to the waterfall without snowshoes, but probably will take an hour if you wear snowshoes.
This weekend and the following weekend will probably be the peak season for people visiting the falls. Don’t miss this stunning natural work of art!
In fast, you can visit this frozen waterfall with a guide that will explain other interesting stories about this natural area here!
Fantastic article from Hachimantai’s own Nick Carmon! He’s composed what I believe is currently the best, most detailed article on the Yakehashiri Lava Flow in Hachimantai. This area is just one example of the amazing volcanic geographical nature of the Hachimantai. Mt. Iwate – the immense volcano that it is – has given so much to this area both in the rich volcanic soil for agiculture and in filtering pristine water to springs such as the Kanazawa Spring area where some of the most delicious salmon in Japan are being raised. We owe so much to this beautiful volcano.
Take a minute to read this great article about the fascinating volcanic history of this area:
The Matsuo Mine was once the most productive sulfur mine in all of Asia, and the apartment buildings for the workers were hailed as a model of community living. It was founded 1914 and at it’s peak in the 1950s employed 4,900 workers and housed a total of 15,000 people in these four-story concrete apartments. However, new technologies allowed sulfur to be extracted as a byproduct of oil refinement so extracting sulfur from volcanic regions became obsolete. The mine closed down in 1969, but these concrete housing units where the workers and their families once lived remain. Entrance is forbidden, but you’re welcome to drive down the little road that goes next to the apartments. It’s beautiful to gaze upon these structures as they are gradually reclaimed by nature, and ponder the fate of all human civilization.
Located right along the Hachimantai Aspite Line – this is a must-see spot if you’re heading up to the summit! Don’t miss it!
When you here the word Appi, the image that comes to mind is the Appi Kogen Ski Resort. But this area is also host to a vast beech forest area called Naka no Makiba. It was even voted as one of the top places in Japan for “forest bathing.” When we visited in November there were also a few horses put out to pasture here, adding to the mystique of this area. In fact, the trails around here are open for horseback riding during the warm seasons. (We’ll post more information on that here on the site soon! Imagine- horseback riding through this breathtaking natural environment in the expanse of wilderness past the Appi Kogen Ski Resort.)
This is also where you’ll find the trailhead to the 50km trail that leads up to the summit of Mt. Hachimantai, across to Mt. Mitsuishi,and the goes along the ridges all the way to Mt. Iwate! We’re dying to try that trail out and give you a more detailed report. Next year!
We recently had the opportunity to spend a day at the house of Hitomi, a Hachimantai local, in the Ashiro neighborhood. She is not only a master of local cuisine, but also the wife of a retired “matagi” – or bear hunter. A group of us got to spend the day here, learning to make soba noodles and feasting up other traditional dishes that she made for us. But beyond the food, just exploring her house was a treat. It felt like it was a time capsule from 100 years ago. The soba and wild veggie dishes were both healthy and tasty. Hitomi-san is opening up her house to tourists to share the best parts of traditional Hachimantai culture. Take advantage of this great opportunity if you can!
Bear hunting in Japan is a long tradition in the north, and no parts of the bear are wasted. Besides the delicious meat, there are various items that can be made from all parts of bears. In modern Japan, however, the number of bear hunters is dwindling. In fact, I was invited to learn bear hunting by the family, though sadly my work schedule won’t allow for the addition of that very exciting hobby.
Hachimantai is home to a number of stunning waterfalls. No less than one might expect from an area full of unspoiled mountains and rivers. Some of these waterfalls are located in really easy to access locations, near roads, or at perhaps a short walk through a shrine (in the case of Fudo Falls). And others require an hour hike through the forest to reach. Nanataki Falls is one of the later, and oh so worth it.
Just a short distance from the Mori no Ohashi Bridge, there’s a little parking lot in the back area of the Iwate Prefectural Forest where you can start your hike. The trail itself goes all way to the summit of Mt. Iwate, but that is quite a long hike. If you’d just like to see the breathtaking view of Nanataki Falls, you can go in casual clothes and expect to be there and back in about 2 hours at most.
This waterfall has two peak seasons. One in the fall, when the leaves change, turning the area into a riot of color, and from late January through mid-February when the waterfall freezes and expands to massive size. Well worth the time and energy to come see for yourself!