Walking around the World Heritage site of Shirakami Sanchi and the mystical Juniko lakes!

Walking around the World Heritage site of Shirakami Sanchi and the mystical Juniko lakes!
Hibino Fuukei
Hibino Fuukei 
Updated
| 2 min read

Shirakami Sanchi is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, registered for its virgin beech forests that span between Akita and Aomori prefectures. You might think that the only way to enjoy its splendid beauty is by mountaineering, but in fact there is an easy hiking course in Shirakami Sanchi around Juniko lakes (“Twelve lakes”)! One of them is Aoike pond, whose mysterious blue color has become the main attraction for tourists!

Start from "Mori no Sanbutsukan Kyororo"!

walking around the world heritage site of shirakami sanchi and the mystical juniko lakes! | start from "mori no sanbutsukan kyororo"!

The starting point of the Juniko hiking course is at “Mori no Sanbutsukan Kyororo”. There is a paid parking lot there and a bus stop for those arriving with public transport. There you can buy souvenirs and have a snack. Better go to the toilet as well.

The name “Juniko” implies that there are 12 lakes, but in fact they are 33 in total. The walking course goes around the biggest ones. The first one you will see is Ketoba pond, surrounded by the greenery of forest trees.

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The wonders of nature! The cobalt blue Aoike

walking around the world heritage site of shirakami sanchi and the mystical juniko lakes! | the wonders of nature! the cobalt blue aoike

The most prominent lake is Aoike. True to its name, it has a cobalt blue color as if someone spilled blue ink there. Even today there is no answer to why its water looks so blue, which creates a mystical aura around this lake. The blue shades change spectacularly according to the light levels.

Aoike is 9-meter deep but very transparent, so you can see the fallen beech trees on the bottom and the swimming fish. The lake is the main attraction for tourism in Juniko and welcomes plenty of visitors.

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Enjoy the beech trees forest even if you're not into climbing!

walking around the world heritage site of shirakami sanchi and the mystical juniko lakes! | enjoy the beech trees forest even if you're not into climbing!

After Aoike you can enjoy a 500-meter long walking trail among the beech trees forest. Even if you’re not into mountain climbing, you will still like the exciting feeling of exploring this World Heritage Site! In summer the forest is a cool place recommended for escaping the heat!

Walk over the bouncy leaf mold and look up to see the lush green trees. When your typical experience is in the asphalt and concrete jungle, walking in nature will seem even more satisfying. You can see not only beech trees, but also maples and hinoki trees.

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The highly transparent Wakitsubo pond

walking around the world heritage site of shirakami sanchi and the mystical juniko lakes! | the highly transparent wakitsubo pond

Upon exiting the beech trees forest, you will arrive at Wakitsubo pond. It is blue like Aoike and very transparent, so you can see its bottom. By this time you will have already walked for about an hour.

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Do you know Japan Canyon?

do you know japan canyon?

What you should definitely see together with the Juniko lakes is Japan Canyon. Even if you haven’t heard about it, check what it is, inspired by its name. The view of the natural white bare rocks of the opposite mountain is spectacular. It looks like a snow landscape watched from a distance. That is Japan’s own version of America’s Grand Canyon! It is a bit far from the starting point “Mori no Sanbutsukan Kyororo”, so going there by car is recommended. On the photo you can see Japan Canyon from the observatory. There is a parking space near the sign that shows where the entrance to the observatory is. The trail is steep at some points, so be careful when climbing. After reaching the top you will be rewarded with the great view of Japan Canyon!

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Enjoy the World Heritage Site leisurely!

You might think that mountaineering with a special guide is the only way to explore the vast land of Shirakami Sanchi, but this walking course proved that you can enjoy easily the natural touristic spot.

Shirakami Sanchi mountain range straddles the border between Akita and Aomori prefectures. Be sure to visit this place if you happen to be in one of the two prefectures. The astonishing view and the rich nature will make you feel refreshed and charged with energy. The Juniko walking trail is open only between April and November.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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