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|
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|
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|
|frozen waterfall in Oirase Gorge 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|
|server fills table 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|
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|
|dining room at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan|
|table setting at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan|
|sake service at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan|
|appetizer at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan|
|soup at Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan|
|snow monster outside Hotel Jogakura in Amori, Japan|
More things to do in Japan.
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images and video ©2020 Carole Terwilliger Meyers