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!
The 2019 (2nd annual) Hachimantai Hill Climb Race was held on Sunday, August 25. We went up to the base of the Hachimantai Aspite Line to watch the race and cheer for participating friends. The temperature at the starting line was a refreshing 18 degrees Celsius at 8:00 a.m and a bracing 10 degrees Celsius at the finish line. The main course was 19.1km with a maximum elevation of 1,083m. The average gradient was 5.7% with a maximum gradient of 6.8% and a total elevation gain of 1,134 meters.
This year’s winner finished the course in 56:14! The famous James Hobbs, a cyclist that lives in Morioka, though originally from the UK, came in 3rd in his class with a time of 1:01:15! Despite the cloudy cool weather at the summit everyone had a great time and there were no injuries or other mishaps.
Since the race finished quite early, and the awards ceremony didn’t begin until after noon, many people decided to take advantage of the discount hot springs tickets given to participants and bathe in some of the famous local hot springs baths.
We went to Toshichi Hot Springs just a little bit down the Hachimantai Jukai Line from the summit to warm up in their famous outdoor baths. There are an amazing six outdoor baths there, including one that is reserved just for women. (The others are all mixed, with of course another indoor bath each for men and women separately.) The popular “onsen tamago” or eggs slowly boiled and seasoned in hot springs at Toshichi Hot Springs were hands down the best that I have ever tasted! If you have a chance to go there, try one!
After a bath and lunch, the weather had warmed up and the sun was out for the awards ceremony, where we again got to applaud all the great cyclists.
Come see the event next year, or better still, join in! There is also a 8km Beginners Course if you don’t feel up to the full one. There are multiple places for you to stay whether you come to participate or cheer on a friend!
- Kubota Lodge: http://iwateasunaro.com/lodge/ (JP)
- Hachimantai Onsenkyo Pension Advantage: Tripadvisor reservation site (EN)
- Pension Alpha: Rakuten Travel site (JP)
- Daiwa Resort: https://www.daiwaresort.jp/global/hachimantai/ (EN)
- Lodge Clubman: http://www.clubman.co.jp/ (JP)
- Rocky Inn: https://www.appirockyinn.com/en/ (EN)
This stunning video shows the joy of cycling in Hachimantai. Part of the Hill Climb course is also shown in this video below. Check it out!
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.
Throughout most of Japan the cherry blossom season is finished… but not in Hachimantai! This is one of the few places in Japan where the cherry trees are still in full bloom! Kenminnomori has both beautiful cherry blossoms and stunning views of Mt. Iwate!
Enjoy the beautiful birch forest, cherry blossoms, and Hachimantai Aspite Line and snow corridor all in the same day! It’s an experience you won’t soon forget!
The first Hachimantai Hill Climb Race was held in 2018 on the Hachimantai Aspite Line and met with rave reviews. Now is your chance to sign up for the 2nd annual Hachimantai Hill Climb Race! It is scheduled to be held on August 25, 2019, and of course features spectacular views and an excellent course through the Towada-Hachimantai National Park.
Watch interviews of the first race, highlights of the area, and a full course POV video with all the details here on our Hachimantai Hill Climb Race page.
Bus access to the Hachimantai Aspite Line Snow Corridor!
(We know you want it…!)
The Sansaku bus that will take you round trip with time to hike starts up on April 26th this year. Until then, you need to take a normal Iwate Kenpoku Bus. There are three options for getting there and three return options. (Each way one is direct and the others require a transfer.)
From Morioka Station East Exit Bus stop #3
9:42 a.m. departure – arrives 10:32 a.m. at the summit area.
10:42 a.m. departure – arrives at last stop (Kozan Shiryokan) at 12:04.. get off and wait for the next bus at 12:10, then arrive at the summit at 12:50 p.m.
12:12 a.m. departure – arrives at last stop (Kozan Shiryokan) at 1:30 p.m… get off and wait for the next bus at 1:40 p.m. – then arrive at the summit area at 2:20 p.m.
Returning from the summit bus stop to Morioka Station:
12:50 p.m. – transfer at the Kozan Shiryokan 1:30 arrival, 1:40 p.m. departure, arriving at Morioka Station at 2:58 p.m.
2:30 p.m. – transfer at the Kozan Shiryokan 3:10 p.m. arrival, 3:15 p.m. departure, arriving at Morioka Station at 4:29 p.m.
3:35 p.m. direct to Morioka Station arriving at 5:28 p.m.
The fare is 1,360 yen each way.
As of today, the Hachimantai Aspite Line is now open for travel! (But please check the road conditions in the morning before you leave as it closes when conditions are dangerous.) We will announce on the trip8 facebook page every morning around 9 a.m. Japanese time whether the road is open that day or not throughout the snow corridor season. The Aspite Line is a long transit road between Iwate and Akita that will take you to and over the summit of Mt. Hachimantai. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held this morning to commemorate the event, featuring the city mayor and regional mascots.
However, while the road is now generally open for the season, there may be some days when it’s closed, primarily due to weather. Unfortunately, today is one of those days!
There are two main ways you can check the status of the Aspite Line. There’s an electric sign posted above its entrance that will say whether it’s closed. The sign is only in Japanese, but if the message is in red you should check with the nearby Visitor Center! Additionally, you can check the homepage of the Hachimantai Tourism Association. Up-to-date transit information for the Aspite Line is available at the top of the page each day, in both English and Japanese. Look for a blue box!
A Seasonal Shuttle Bus and Taxi service that will make your stay more memorable!
If you think that Skiing was fun, the food after it would be amazing, fresh local Japanese taste in traditional Japanese atmosphere restaurants, you can’t miss it.
→ The information is in English and 繁体中文.