Shirakami-Sanchi is a Natural World Heritage Site (#663) located in the Tohoku region on the border between Aomori and Akita prefectures in Japan. The core zone is have strict access rules, so mainly visitors only enter the buffer zone. The area is especially beautiful in the autumn season.
From mid-November to late-May most of the roads in the Shirakami-Sanchi area is closed due to the heavy amount of snows, for which reason it is not recommended to go there in this period. The best period to visit the area is in start to mid-Octoboer when the autumnn colors are at their best.
The easiest way to get close to the Shirakami-Sanchi world heritage area is by Shinkansen and local train from Tokyo to Hirosaki the entire trips takes 4 hours. The area have very limited connection with public transportation, and I can't recommend going there if you don't have the possibility to rent a car and drive around the area yourself.
Shirakami-Sanchi is a huge area, it takes at least 2 full days to get around and explore the different sites. More time is recommended if you'd like to enjoy life in one of the many onsens along the West coast, which are famous for their sunset views.
19.20PM - Shinkansen and Express train from Tokyo to Hirosaki
23.30PM - Arrive at hotel
07.00AM - Breakfast
08.00AM - Pick up rent car
10.30AM - Jyuniko
13.30PM - Lunch
14.30PM - Nihon Canyon
17.00PM - Arrive at onsen Hotel
08.00AM - Breakfast
09.30AM - Drive towards Mt. Futatsumori
11.00AM - Hike to summit of Mt. Futatsumori
13.00PM - Drive to Dairakyo Gorge
15.00PM - Explore the Dairakyo Gorge
15.40PM - Drive to Tanashiro Swamp
16.10PM - Explore the Tanashiro Swamp
17.00PM - Drive to Hirosaki for dinner at Yamazaki
21.30PM - Arrive at hotel for the night
07.00AM - Breakfast
08.00AM - Mother Tree
10.00AM - Anmon falls (in case of closure, trek/hike in the area around Aqua Green Village)
14.00PM - Aqua Green Village Onsen
16.00PM - Drive to Hirosaki
17.45PM - Train to Tokyo
21.30PM - Arrive back in Tokyo
Being more people will reduce the price pr person, as the car comes at a fixed price no matter if you are only you or 4 persons. Additionally the price will be greatly reduced if you are covered as a tourist by your JR pass.
JPY 33,260 - Shinkansen and express train ticket return Tokyo - Hirosaki
JPY 25,500 - Car rent including fuel and full insurance
JPY 4,900 - Hirosaki hotel, including breakfast
JPY 10,000 - West coast hotel, including dinner and breakfast
JPY 4,600 - Aqua Green Village accommodation
Total price about JPY 80,000. Prices can be immensely reduced traveling four people together on a JR pass, which will reduce the cost pr person to about JPY 25,000.
1. Hirosaki
Following the itinerary suggested here, you'll arrive late in Hirosaki and leave early the next morning, so a business hotel like the Hirosaki Plaza Hotel, a 10 minute walk from the station is a convenient location for the night.
View from the room at Hirosaki Plaza Hotel The rented car, Daihatsu Move with auto transmission spectacular wide rainbow
Hirosaki plaza hotel and our rented car, and a rainbow
2. West coast of Shirakami-Sanchi
The Hachimoriisaribi Hot Spring is convenient located a 30 min drive from the Nihon Canyon as well as Mt. Futatsumori. The most famous accommodation, which also features one of Japan's top onsen, visited for its open hotspring bath providing maginificent sunset views, the Koganezaki Furo Fushi Onsen, is highly recommended, but be aware that it is booked up far in advance, so be quick.
View from the room at Hachimoriisaribi Hot Spring
View from hotel room at Hachimoriisaribi Hot spring
2. East coast of Shirakami-Sanchi
The Aqua Green Village is basically the only accommodation that is on the East coast of Shirakami-Sanchi, but it does also offers the most easy access to the Anmon Falls and other hiking courses.
Indoor onsen at Aqua Green Village Outdoor onsen at Aqua Green Village
Hot springs at Aqua Green Village
1. Jyuniko and the Nihon Canyon
The Jyuniko is a series of twelve lakes on the west side of Shirakami-Sanchi featuring a blue pond (Aoike), which is famous for it unnatural blue color. The area is also located next to the Nihon Canyon, which looks like a miniature of the Grand Canyon.
The blue pond (Aoike) The blue pond (Aoike) from distance The green pond from its viewing platform The Nihon Canyon
Aoike and green pond at the Jyouiko lakes
2. Mt. Futatsumori
The road towards the mountain is well signed, but it can only be accessed by car, as no train or bus serves the road into and up towards the hiking trail to the peak. The drive up to the parking lot to the start of the trail to the summit offers several incredible views over the mountainous Shirakami-Sanchi area
View from driving to the hiking trail of Mt. Futatsumori View from driving to the hiking trail of Mt. Futatsumori View from driving to the hiking trail of Mt. Futatsumori
View from driving to the hiking trail of Mt. Futatsumori View over core region of Shirakami-Sanchi from Mt. Futatsumori View over World Heritage Site Shirakami-Sanchi from Mt. Futatsumori
Autumn leaves and views over Shirakami-Sanchi while driving up Mt. Futatsumori
Remember to visit the toilet that is located right at the entrance to the trail, as it will be the last opportunity for the next 2-3 hours. It take about one hour to the peak (1086 m) of Mt. Futatsumori including about 4-5 stops on the way for pictures and drinking some water.
Mark of Mt. Futatsumori at 1086m View from summit of Mt. Futatsumori Core region of World Heritage Site Shirakami-Sanchi from Mt. Futatsumori
Hiking to the summit of Mt. Futatsumori
3. Dairakyo Gorge and Tanashiro Swamp
On the way to the Dairakyo Gorge, it is worth to make a stop in the World Heritage Conservation Center in Fujisato, which can also serve as a toilet break. The red bridge in Dairakyo Gorge with the autumn colors is one of the best views of the trip. From here make the 30 min drive before reaching the parking lot for Mt. Komagatake and the Tanashiro Swamp.
The Dairakyo Gorge
The red bridge in the Dairakyo Gorge
The Tanashiro Swamp on the trail to Mt. Komagatake
The Dairakyo Gorge and Tanashiro Swamp
4. Mother tree
The mother tree is located close to the Aqua Green Village, and the tree, which is the oldest beech tree in Shirakami-Sanchi, is apparently more than 400 years old. It takes approximately 30 min to reach the bus stop where the Mother tree is located.
The 400 year old mother tree Autumn leaves at the Mother tree View from the outpost at the Mother tree View from the outpost at the Mother tree
The 400 year old Mother beech tree and its surroundings
5. Anmon Falls or Aqua Green Village trekking
By the time we visited the area, the Anmon falls was unfortunately closed due to some accidents. In case you reach the area and the Anmon falls are closed, it is possible to do a lovely 2 hour hike around the area.
Autumn leaves across the river at Aqua Green Village Fallen berries on the hike at Aqua Green Village Autumn leaves and the river at Aqua Green Village
Hiking around Aqua Green Village
Aomori prefecture in Japan is famous for Apples, very delicious apples. The widely famous apple farmer Akinori Kimura-san also have his farm in this area, but forget about going to his farm to buy an apple, you'll have to wait five (5) years, and Kimura-san can't be briebed. However, for your and everyone else luck, Restaurant Yamazaki in Hirosaki is one of a very few restaurants that cooks supreme delicious dinner with the use of Kimura-san's apples. The B-course, which is greatly recommended comes at JPY 8.640 / person.
Aomori beef at Restaurant Yamazaki
Aomori beef
1. Bear bell
The Japanese Black Bear is inhabitant of the Shirakami-Sanchi mountain area, do not hike or trek anywhere without a bear bell. Bear bells and be bought everywhere in Japan.
2. Water and snacks for Mt. Futatsumori
There are no shops after you leave the main road for Mt. Futatsumori, and the drive including the hike to the summit and back is at least 5 hours.


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