Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Mt. Shirakami and the Picturesque Jūniko Lake

Continuing from our article on Mt. Shirakami, which introduced the world-class virgin beech forest and beautiful waterfalls on the east side of the vast mountain area, this time, we want to introduce the gorgeous Jūniko Lake area on the west to you!

How to Access the Attractions Around Jūniko Lake

 To get to Jūniko Lake (十二湖) by public transport, we recommend taking the JR Joyful Train, Resort Shirakami from JR Aomori Station or JR Akita Station and getting off at JR Jūniko Station (十二湖駅). The joyful train imaging Mt. Shirakami is the best way to start the scenic trip!

Of course, you can get on Resort Shirakami from any station on the line. Refer to the route and timetable HERE.

Important: Resort Shirakami can only be boarded with a reserved ticket. Under the official JR website timetable, you will find a list of stations where you can’t purchase Resort Shirakami’s ticket and a list of stations where you can do so, but only during certain time intervals.

From Jūniko Station, you can walk to Jūniko Lake, which takes around an hour. Between late April and November each year, you can take the Kōnan Bus’s (弘南バス) Jūniko Line (十二湖線) from JR Jūniko Station. Depending on how you want to explore the area, get off at either Ōike (王池前) or Oku Juniko Parking (奥十二湖駐車場).

Tip: Kōnan Bus’s bus stop is just opposite the JR Jūniko Station. If you are traveling with bulky bags, you can store your belongings in the shop just behind the bus stop (fees apply but are inexpensive).

HERE is the bus route map for your reference. The route’s timetable and fare details can be found HERE. The website is in Japanese. You can let us know HERE if you need assistance.

Attractions at Mt. Shirakami Around Jūniko Lake

Nihon Canyon (日本キャニオン)

If you are walking from or back to JR Jūniko Station, you will definitely walk past Nihon Canyon.

The spot’s name might sound super exciting because you might expect an experience as awesome as the Grand Canyon in the U.S.

Unfortunately, as much as the view is dynamic, with the 1 km long white cliff contrasting the greenery of the beech forest around it, expecting to see something similar to the Grand Canyon will most likely lead to disappointment (;´・ω・).

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

Nevertheless, while we don’t think the spot itself is worth the time and money it will cost to visit, if you are already visiting Jūniko Lake, it may be convenient to drop by this cliff that is formed by the erosion and collapse of the tuff layer.

The observation deck close by can be easily accessed through a walking track for 15 minutes of your time (=゚ω゚)ノ.

How to Get to Nihon Canyon

It is around a 40-minute walk from JR Jūniko Station.

Or, if you are taking the Konan Bus from JR Jūniko Station, get off at Ōike (王池前) and walk toward the station for approximately 10 minutes.

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions at Mt. Shirakami.

Jūniko Lake (十二湖)

Jūniko Lake, meaning 12 lakes in Japanese, is actually an area that has 33 lakes altogether. The 33 lakes are younger than the Mother Tree (that 400-year-old beech tree we introduced in our Mt. Shirakami article. They were created as a result of a huge earthquake in 1704.

From Ōkuzure Observation Deck (大崩展望所), you can only see 12 out of the 33 lakes. That is why the area was named Jūniko (probably because people back then were examining the damage of earthquakes from that observation deck).

Recommended Trekking Routes

Depending on how much time you plan to spend around Jūniko Lake, there are a few ways to explore these scenic lakes.

  • If you are under a time constraint, then you will want to get off the bus at the Oku Jūniko Parking (奥十二湖駐車場). From there, it is a 10-minute walk to the most famous lake of the Jūniko Lake – Aoike Pond (青池)
  • If you have 1.5 hours, then get off the bus at the Oku Jūniko Parking (奥十二湖駐車場) as well. From the promenade next to Kyororo Forest Produce Center, which is just next to the bus stop, the loop course will lead you to the following attractions in sequence: Ketoba no Ike Pond (鶏頭場の池) → Aoike (青池) → Beech Forest Path → Wakitsubo no Ike Pond (沸壺の池) → Juniko An (十二湖庵) → Ochikuchi no Ike Pond (落口の池) → Kyororo Forest Produce Center (森の物産館キョロロ)
  • If you have 2 ~ 2.5 hours, still start from the promenade next to Kyororo Forest Produce Centre, but you will have a few more attractions under your belt (´▽`*). The course will be the following: Ketoba no Ike Pond (鶏頭場の池) → Aoike (青池) → Beech Forest Path → Wakitsubo no Ike Pond (沸壺の池) → Jūniko An (十二湖庵) → Ochikuchi no Ike Pond (落口の池) → Naka no Ike Pond (中の池) → Jūniko Visitor Centre (十二湖ビジターセンター) → Koshiguchi no Ike Pond (越口の池) → Ōike Pond (王池). From Ōike Pond, you can take the Konan Bus back to JR Jūniko Station.

Important: Note the trekking routes around Jūniko Lake are only accessible from mid-April to late November.

Kyororo Forest Produce Center (Mori no Bussankan Kyororo 森の物産館キョロロ)

The Kyororo Forest Produce Center is a convenient spot for visitors to get tourist information, drinks, snacks, souvenirs, and light meals.

Also, coin lockers are available to rent from 300 yen, depending on the size of your bags.

The center is open from April to November each year when Jūniko Lake is open to the public between 8:30 am to 5 pm (the opening hours can change depending on the season by 30 minutes to an hour).

The Entrance to the Promenade

Look for these cute four sparrows when you are ready to explore Jūniko Lake!

If you see them, you are on the right track for this scenic journey (^_-)-☆.


Ketoba no Ike Pond (鶏頭場の池)


The Ketoba no Ike Pond is one of the biggest lakes among the 33 lakes in the Jūniko Lake area.

You won’t be able to tell the whole lake’s shape from the promenade. But if you manage to board a helicopter, or probably from one of the lookouts at the surrounding mountains, the lake is in the shape of a chicken’s head. That is why it is called Ketoba.

Aoike Pond (青池)

Aoike Pond is a landmark of the Jūniko area. Its sapphire blue lake water is simply just stunning!

The 9 meters deep lake is clear and looks somehow bottomless, adding a more mysterious vibe to this gorgeous lake (*´ω`).

The best photo opportunity is at around 11 am. The warm sunshine adds a golden luster to the lake’s surface, making the whole scenery more heavenly!

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

And if you want to see the lake color at its most vibrant, plan your visit in June (^_-)-☆.

Beech Forest Path

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

The Jūniko Lake area is covered by beech trees.

The forest is home to thousands of birds. That is why when you visit Mt. Shirakami, don’t forget to take off your headphones to enjoy nature’s symphony (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Wakitsubo no Ike Pond (沸壺の池)

If Aoike Pond is a shining sapphire, then the Wakitsubo no Ike Pond is an elegant turquoise!

The word “wakitsubo” means a boiling pot in Japanese. It is used to describe the sound of water coming from the lake. Does that resonate with you?

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

Jūniko An (十二湖庵)


Another spot where you can fill up your water bottle with delicious water!

Even if you are not thirsty, still give this water from Wakitsubo no Ike Pond a go! When the sweet and icy water goes down your throat, you will feel like your body is purified (=゚ω゚)ノ.

And if you want to take a rest, stop by the Japanese sweets shop – Jūniko An. Their matcha is prepared by using the Wakitsubo no Ike’s water. That is why you can hardly taste the bitterness!

When you see the signboard that says “この先崩壊あり注意” hanging on one of the trees, you are really close to Okuzure!

Also, although you won’t be charged for the matcha and the sweets that come with it, there is a donation box. So don’t forget to show some support to the service. You have enjoyed their hospitality already afterall (^_-)-☆

Ochikuchi no Ike Pond (落口の池)

The beautiful lake opposite the yummy Jūniko An is the Ochikuchi no Ike Pond.

If you have a bento box with you, enjoying a delicious Japanese bento box while receiving a refreshing breeze at the lakeside will blow your sightseeing fatigue away!


Jūniko Visitor Centre (十二湖ビジターセンター)

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

Rather than a visitor center that is full of travel information, this visitor center has exhibits of the animals that inhabit the Jūniko Lake area.

If you aren’t interested in the animals you probably won’t be able to see during your time at Jūniko Lake, then head to the back of the visitor center.

The chances of seeing a stringfish in the Stringfish Fish Farm should be greater than tracking down a wild animal at Jūniko Lake (´▽`*).

Ōike Pond (王池)

The Ōike Pond is divided by the car park in the middle into East Lake and West Lake.

If you have time, how about a jog along this stunning lake??


Itobatake no Ike Pond (糸畑の池)


If you are planning to spend a day at Jūniko ko Lake. Then follow the trek marked by the grey line heading to the Jūniko Refresh Village on the map HERE. There are also quite a few other scenic ponds that you can explore!

And if you want to spend a night surrounded by the great nature of the Jūniko Lake area, staying at one of the cottages at Jūniko Refresh Village (or twelve lake refresh village in English) may be a great idea!

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions at Mt. Shirakami.

Ōkuzure (大崩展望所)

If you have hiking experience, then when you come to Jūniko Lake, you can’t miss out on Ōkuzure.

The steep hiking trail that leads to Ōkuzure is just next to Aoike Lake. It will take you around an hour and 15 minutes to get there.

As you will be hiking through the forest without a properly maintained trail, a pair of work gloves and proper hiking shoes will ensure your own safety (=゚ω゚)ノ.

To minimize human damage to the forest, you will need to follow the pink tape along the way.

After hiking for approximately 30 minutes, you should see a log bench. It is a good spot to take a rest here before you continue your hike up (^_-)-☆.

Important: This spot at Mt. Ōkuzure is just a narrow road on the cliff. Please be really careful when you are there as we don’t want anything unfortunate to happen to you (‘ω’)ノ.

Tip: If you want to go to Ōkuzure but aren’t confident going there by yourself, you can book a guide service with Aone Shirakami Twelves Lakes by calling +81-173-77-3311. You can also reserve through Shirakami Calendar and translate it to English by Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions at Mt. Shirakami.

Aone Shirakami Jūniko Lakes (アオーネ白神十二湖)

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

There are quite a few hiking and trekking courses available around the Jūniko Lake area. Completing all of them isn’t possible in one day.

So that is what Aone Shirakami Jūniko (we will call it Aone from here on) is for (=゚ω゚). Similar to the Aqua Green Village ANMON, it is another resort village with various facilities to make visitors’ Jūniko trip more pleasant.

One of the best things about Aone is its free pick-up service from JR Jūniko Station. The bus operates according to the train that arrives and departs from JR Jūniko Station. You can just drop your bags with the hotel bus driver at the Station and start exploring the area!

Important: Reservation is essential to use the free pick-up service. Also, the shuttle bus is only operated between mid-April and November.

In addition, there are also shuttle bus services connecting you to Kyororo Forest Produce Center (Mori no Bussankan Kyororo 森の物産館キョロロ). Please refer to their shuttle bus timetable HERE. The bus in the photo on the webpage is the bus you will take. Refer to the 2nd row in the timetable underneath the photo for the bus’s departure times.

Whilst there is no campsite, apart from the Northern-European style cottages, there are also Japanese-style rooms that you can choose from (you will need to make your futon bed, though).

Bathing Facility – Aone No Yu (アオーネの湯)

Whether you stay at Aone or not, you are welcome to use their bathing facility – Aone no Yu (fees apply).

It is a great way to feel refreshed and be healed of the tiredness from the extraordinary amount of exercise that you have done!

Aone no Yu will be open from the 29th of April to early November this year from 3 pm to 9 pm.

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

If you are not staying at Aone, it will cost you 500 yen to use this facility (300 yen for elementary school students and 200 yen for younger children).

Note Aone no Yu is only open when there are guests staying overnight at Aone Shirakami Jūniko.

Aone Shirakami Jūniko’s Other Facilities and Access Information

  • Restaurant – Akashoubin (レストラン アカショウビン. We are currently confirming whether they can cater to a vegetarian diet. For more details, please refer to their website HERE. You can also utilize the phrases in our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases For Vegetarian article when you get there!
  • Coin-operated laundry machine
  • Souvenir shop – Kingfisher (物産館 カワセミ): Opens between 8:30 am to 5 pm (the hours may change slightly depending on the season).
  • Playground

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions at Mt. Shirakami.

Snow Hiking at Jūniko Lake

Between December and March, when the Jūniko Lake area is covered by snow, there are guided snow hiking tours that you can participate in!

Things like boots and snowshoes can be rented out for free. So you just need to worry about whether you are warm enough (=゚ω゚)ノ.

If you have other belongings that you won’t need during the hiking session, you can store them at the reception of Aone Shirakami Twelve Lakes.

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

Reservation is required 5 days in advance HERE to their booking website. Again, in Japanese, so translate it by using Google Chrome’s translation function. If you need assistance with booking, you can contact us HERE, and we will get back to you.

For more information about this tour, please refer to their website HERE.

Jūniko Refresh Village (十二湖リフレッシュ村)

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

Important: The facility is currently closed for maintenance. You can check the status HERE.

The Jūniko Refresh Village is another accommodation in the area that you can choose from.

It is not as commercialized as the Aone Shirakami Jūniko, so when you get out of your cottage, you will truly feel like you are spending a night in the middle of nature!

Because it is around a 10-minute drive away from Jūniko Lakes, it is only recommended if you plan to drive to Shirakami Sanchi.

For more information and to book, please refer to the official website HERE and translate it to English by Google Chrome’s translation function.

If you need assistance with booking, you can contact us HERE, and we will get back to you.

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions at Mt. Shirakami.

Discover the Beautiful Beech Forest Area at the Shirakami Sanchi’s East

Click the photo to find out more information about the other part of Mt. Shirakami!

If you love hiking, we would recommend you to stop by the beech forest area at Mt. Shirakami’s east. The natural trails in the virgin forest will lead you to some magnificent waterfalls.

For more information, please refer to our article on Mt. Shirakami and the World-Class Virgin Beech Forest!

Getting to Mt. Shirakami by the Joyful Train: Resort Shirakami

One of the three types of the Joyful Train, Resort Shirakami was designed based on the beech forest in Shirakami Sanchi. So how about starting your journey to this World Heritage by taking the joyful train to make the visit more unforgettable?

For more information, please refer to our article on Resort Shirakami!

Click the photo for more information about Resort Shirakami!

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