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!
Ryoyu Kobayashi, a Japanese ski jumper of international fame, has won thirteen World Cup events and won all six possible titles in the World Cup season, including the overall title, the Four Hills Tournament, the ski flying title, Raw Air, Planica7, and Willingen Five. In the 2018 Winter Olympics he placed 7th in men’s normal hill, and 10th in men’s large hill. He’s still just 22 years old with a long athletic career ahead of him.
And he’s also from Hachimantai, Iwate! He returned to his hometown for a visit and visited a local elementary school on May 9th, 2019. He fielded a number of questions from the children, from simple ones such as his favorite fruit (strawberries), and anime, to explaining how he first began jumping at the age of 5 years old, when he built a small jump in the yard of his house and used it while wearing cross-country skis. He also disclosed that he does summer training on Miyako Island in Okinawa.
Though he travels throughout the world, he stated that he holds Hachimantai close to his heart, and always cherishes the vast rich natural environment there. He loves the way the landscape erupts in color in the fall, and of course can’t get enough of the great powder snow that covers the slopes come winter.
Goshiki Pond is just a short walk from the parking lot near the Hachimantai Aspite Line bottom gate. The name literally translates to 5-color-pond, but this is not a rainbow lake, but rather has volcanic minerals seeping up in to this pool that changes the color throughout the seasons. So the view changes dramatically depending on when you arrive. The photo here with the deep clear blue is from late summer, in August. The red clay banks of the pond really accentuate the color and make it even more stunning. Right next to it is Gozaisho pond, which doesn’t benefit from these volcanic minerals, and thus gives you a “control” example of a normal lake nearby that you can thus compare and really see the magic of Goshiki.
There’s also a small gazebo here giving you a perfect spot for a snack or lunch while you listen to the birds and enjoy the tranquility of this beautiful spot.