Note that these blogs posted during the sheltering-in-place period of the coronavirus crisis are meant as a virtual escape. Hopefully, the information will be of use to you when it is safe to travel again.

June 18, 2020

Aomori city, Japan: Oirase National Park; things to do


Enjoy pizza, do some forest bathing, and overnight at an onsen


Oirase National Park  This has been a national park for 80 years and is a protected nature zone.  It is particularly beautiful in winter.

visitor center in Oirase National Park in Aomori, Japan
visitor center in Oirase National Park in Aomori, Japan


Oirase Gorge, Lake Towada, and Tsuta no Mori offer giant ancient trees, moss banked streams and mountains along with blissful silence.  This gorge has three sections--the white-branched beech trees, the moss-covered rocks, and the waterfalls.

road through Oirase Gorge in Oirase National Park in Aomori, Japan
road through Oirase Gorge in Oirase National Park in Aomori, Japan


Oirase Walk  A beautiful walking trail leads up an easy incline from the visitor center to Lake Towada.  The trail follows the clear Oirase Keiryu stream and passes the ancient Choshi Otaki waterfall.  In winter, when walking in slippery snow can be treacherous, my group was taken by bus along the main road through the park and let out at various sights along the way.  Any time, a nature guide enhances the experience.

river through Oirase Gorge in Oirase National Park in Aomori, Japan
river through Oirase Gorge in Oirase National Park in Aomori, Japan


frozen waterfall in Oirase Gorge in Oirase National Park in Aomori, Japan
frozen waterfall in Oirase Gorge in Oirase National Park in Aomori, Japan


Lake Towada in Oirase National Park in Aomori, Japan
Lake Towada in Oirase National Park in Aomori, Japan

          Oirase Frozen Waterfall Walk  On this evening walk, participants witness the unique, ever-changing frozen waterfalls of Oirase, which are illuminated amid the snowy scenery.
          Oirase Bath with Ice Cascade  Another special experience allows soaking in open-air baths while gazing below upon streams and massive frozen waterfalls.


Not too far away but still seemingly out in the boonies, it is quite a surprise to find Ortolana set within a Scandinavian-style building and serving a first-rate pizza with cracker-thin crust.  Pizzas are cooked in a rustic stone oven and come in several varieties, including vegetarian, as well as apple or other seasonal fruits (for dessert).  The spectacular roasted potatoes are a don't miss.

interior of Ortolana pizza cafe in Aomori, Japan
interior of Ortolana pizza cafe in Aomori, Japan


server fills table at Ortolana pizza cafe in Aomori, Japan
server fills table at Ortolana pizza cafe in Aomori, Japan


apple pizza dessert at Ortolana pizza cafe in Aomori, Japan
apple pizza dessert at Ortolana pizza cafe in Aomori, Japan


sprouted red onion at Ortolana pizza cafe in Aomori, Japan
sprouted red onion at Ortolana pizza cafe in Aomori, Japan


Within range for overnighting, the hilltop European-style mountain resort onsen Hotel Jogakura is surrounded by virgin beech forests. This scenically-situated onsen features a hot spring with both a sleek modern indoor bath and a rustic rock-lined outdoor bath.  It has 31 room and presents beautifully served traditional farm-and-sea-to-table Japanese cuisine--the chef himself selects locally-caught ocean fish daily at the market.  My delightful dinner here was punctuated with the excitement of seeing a furry golden Japanese marten hunting in the snow for its own dinner outside the dining room window.

More helpful onsen information.


onsen bath at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan
onsen bath at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan


dining room at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan
dining room at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan


table setting at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan
table setting at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan


sake service at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan
sake service at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan


appetizer at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan
appetizer at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan


soup at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan
soup at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan






snow monster outside Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan
snow monster outside Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan



More things to do in Japan.

Great ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images and video ©2020 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


3 comments:

  1. What a unique trip you had and now I know what onsen means. I thought it was the chance to don kimonos and live like the Japanese for a day or so. I really have to go to Japan!

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  2. Sadly, I have never been to Japan. Someday, I hope! Oirase National Park looks like it has much to offer. What could be better than a place with such natural beauty plus great food and accommodations?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful - I'd love to do the frozen waterfall walk. And to try the apple pizza (even if it doesn't sound very Japanese!)

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