Have you ever seen a frozen waterfall? Did you know that because of the way it freezes that the ice swells to more than 10 times the size of the waterfall during the warmer months?
Nanataki Falls is amazing all year round, but in the winter it really is magical. There’s a new tour from the Hachimantai Resort Panorama Ski Area to snowshoe out through the pristine winter forest to see this stunning tower of ice.
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:
A well-known Thai blogger recently wrote an extensive article featuring their favorite areas of Hachimantai and Kazuno. They listed 16 areas they found impressive. I don’t read any Thai, but in this era of Google Translate it’s actually possible to see what it is that stuck out to them about our beloved Hachimantai. There are also some rather excellent photographs included as well.
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.
The Hachimantai Aspite and Jukai Lines are closing for the winter from 5pm on Tuesday, November 5th. The Hachimantai Aspite Line will reopen at 10 a.m. on April 15th and the Hachimantai Jukai Line will reopen at 10 a.m. on April 24th.
In April when it reopens we’ll again be able to enjoy the Hachimantai Snow Corridor at the same time as the cherry blossoms begin to bloom, all along the same road!
But first, winter is coming! It’s almost time for us to start enjoying the dreamy powder snow that some have started calling, Hachipow!
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!
The Hachimantai Aspite and Jukai Lines have begun their fall schedule. They will now be closed from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. Additionally, on days with poor weather they may be closed all day. Please check back here for any announcements of closings!
The fall is a beautiful time to hike around the summit of Hachimantai. The mountainsides are alive with color, and the crisp cool air is invigorating!
Winter is coming!
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.
September 7th and 8th was the 2nd Annual Lodge Clubman and Rossignol Hachimantai 2-day Mountain Biking event! Last Saturday and Sunday 10 members including our hosts met at Lodge Clubman in Hachimantai to try out the newest Rossignol Mountain Bikes and learn how to ride them.
We left in the morning and went to a nearby park. Some of us, including me, had never ridden a serious mountain bike before, so Clubman’s Guide Junya Kuragane demonstrated the basics of how to use the brakes properly, go up and down steep slopes, and how to maneuver on rough terrain. It was outstanding! I had a mountain bike when I was in high school, but the ones that Rossignol makes now are a totally different breed. The massive shocks on them makes even the roughest terrain smooth as butter, and the disc brakes allow for control even on steep downhill slopes.
After all that practice, it was lunchtime, and the Clubman Team had prepared us delicious onigiri rice balls that we enjoyed in the park. Then after a bit of relaxation it was time to hit the road. We cycled partway up the Hachimantai Aspite Line then went down an old logging trail and eventually completely off road. We crossed a little stream, and enjoyed the cool breeze flowing through the mountain trail as we got a good workout with a nice balance of climbing and downhill.
We arrived back at Lodge clubman around 3pm sweaty, exhausted, and happy. What better time for a bath in the local hot springs! So we went off to the oldest of the three hot spring facilities in the Matsukawa Hot Springs, Shofuso. The rustic hot springs inn has this great outdoor bath across an old suspension bridge that is just magical. All three of the Matsukawa Hot Springs are great, but you can’t go wrong with a visit to the first! People have been bathing here for more than 270 years!
Back at Lodge Clubman, bathed and refreshed, we were ready for dinner. It wasn’t just any dinner waiting for us, but a barbecue feast with local vegetables and local, popular brand pork steaks, Komakusafarm made tochucha pork, sausages, scallops from the Sanriku Coast, exquisite mushrooms from the Hachimantai Mushroom Farm, stir-fried offal and more. The beer on tap was also not unwelcome.
The next morning we assembled for a hearty breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Clubman’s Guide Junya Kuragane’s father, Ikuo, known as “Boss” – is an excellent cook though he was humble about his skills. Then we set off for APPI Kogen, where we rode the gondola to the summit at an elevation of 1,304 meters. After a bit of a refresher on proper downhill technique, we took the plunge and biked down the ski slopes over a variety of terrain all the way back to the bottom of the mountain.
We took a lunch break after that workout at a rather luxurious Chinese buffet restaurant in the APPI Grand Hotel, and then were off again on the trails. The roughly 30km route we took from APPI Kogen back to Lodge Clubman was one of the highlights of the day. We did a lot of work climbing as well as enjoyed some exciting charges downhill. We made it back by mid-afternoon, fully satisfied with the day, and now confident and experienced on the mountain bikes. It was a full weekend and a great experience.
Lodge Clubman offers mountain biking tours on demand from June 22nd till the end of October. You can reserve them for groups of 2 people or more for 12,960 yen for 1 full day or 7,020 yen per person for a half day. This includes bike, helmet, and protector rentals, and lunch in the case of a full day. Make a reservation now! https://trip8.jp/listings/hachimantai-mountain-biking-tour/ (These prices are current as of 9/10/2019.)
Lodge Clubman is much much more than just a great pension with mountain biking tours. Lodge Clubman offers a wide variety of outdoor experiences and tours throughout the year. During the winter they offer Telemark skiing lessons, alpine skiing lessons, backcountry skiing tours, crosscountry skiing tours, and CAT ski tours. During the warmer months they also offer kayaking lessons and tours. Let Lodge Clubman lead your outdoor adventure! More information here.
When you stay at Lodge Clubman, you can also enjoy the sense of community that you feel with the other guests as well as Junya Kuragane and the Boss. The barbecues at night bring people together, and since everyone staying loves outdoor activities, you’ve got a lot to talk about. Experience Lodge Clubman! You will thank yourself!