Oirase Gorge – Discover the Most Picturesque Place in Japan

The 14 km Oirase Gorge (奥入瀬渓流) in Aomori prefecture is known as one of Japan’s most scenic spots. No matter which season you visit Oirase Gorge, you will definitely be amazed by its beauty.

Apart from the walking tracks that are artificial, the whole Gorge remains its original form. The virgin forest, the rocks (big and small) covered by various moss, multiple meandering streams flowing on the riverbank, and not to mention the waterfall here and there, all will make you want to stay there forever!

And the best thing about this Gorge is that there aren’t too many bugs!!! Don’t we all hate being stung by those mosquitos…(´▽`*).

Where to Start This Scenic Journey?

Referring to this MAP of Oirase Gorge, you can enter the Gorge from either Nenokuchi (子ノ口) or Yakeyama (焼山).

We recommend starting the journey from downstream of the river called Yakeyama. This is to make sure you don’t enjoy the main dish before the appetisers. The closer you get to Nenokuchi, the more spectacular the view is!

So from downstream to the source of the river – Lake Towada (十和田湖)’s east coast, the menu of your scenic feast is as below:

Assuming you are taking the JR bus from JR Hachinohe Station (八戸駅), please get off at Oirase Stream Museum (奥入瀬渓流館). For more details of transport information, please click HERE.

However, if you don’t have much time to spend at Oirase Gorge and want to cut the required travel time through the Gorge by half, click HERE for more information on bike rental services available.

Tips: We highly recommend you utilise the toilet facility at Oirase Stream Museum before you start trekking the Gorge. The next spot where you can do your business won’t be available until you reach Ishigedo Rest Area (which is 5 km, or 1 hour away)…

Recommended Clothes when You Visit Oirase Gorge

Long sleeves, long pants, and non-slippery shoes are needless to say. Apart from the really hot months in summer (Jul and Aug), due to the significant differences in temperature compared to cities in Aomori prefecture, you might find that bringing a piece of thick clothes will come in handy. Also, the following list of items should give you a better experience at Oirase Gorge:

  • Water
  • Towel
  • Hat
  • Some snacks
  • Bug spray (albeit there aren’t too many bugs around)
  • Bear bell (just in case)

Shimeikei Stream (紫明渓)

Shortly after saying goodbye to the Oirase Stream Museum, you will see this beautiful spot where the clear stream flows calmly on the riverbed.

Shimeikei is probably at its most beautiful during winter. When the stones in the river are all covered in white snow, it is as stunning and mesmerising as Disney’s Frozen!

Shimeikei Stream Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Photo from Aomori prefecture

Samidare No Nagare (三乱の流れ)

Samidare No Nagare Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Photo from Towada city

Due to the stones on the riverbed, the stream of water is divided into three streams, but will meet again when they get closer to you.

This is why this area is called Samidare no Nagare.

The area is also best known for the Azalea Purple Glitters. If you visit the Gorge in mid-May, you will find the flowers blooming on the rocks in the river (*’▽’).

Please click HERE to get back to a list of the attractions at Oirase Gorge.

Ishigedo Stream (石ヶ戸の瀬)

At Ishigedo Stream, you will find various streams flowing in different directions and speeds.

The spot is famous because quite a few TV ads in Japan were filmed there. And the reason why they chose Ishigedo Stream has always been “because the flow of water conveys a sense of cool and refreshing vibe”…

Well to us, the whole Gorge already gives us that kind of vibe, so not sure why they always choose to film there (´▽`*).

Ishigedo Stream Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Photo from www.photo-ac.com/

Ishigedo (石ヶ戸)’s Scary Legend…

Ishigedo Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Photo from Towada city

This area is named Ishigedo because the small hut made of stone naturally is located nearby.

To us, it isn’t exactly a hut that people want to live in (you might feel the same after you have seen the photo on the left-hand side). And in fact, it is true! No “sane human being” has ever lived there.

From the legend, the only person that lived there was a beautiful bandit, who would assault and rob passing travellers. By pretending to be a weak and vulnerable lady needing help from others, anyone who lent her a hand was stabbed and of course, lost their fortune…

Ishigedo Rest Area (石ヶ戸休憩所)

Albeit the frightening legend, tourists nowadays don’t need to worry about being killed and robbed at the resting area located near the hut. Not only do they have the precious facility – the toilet but if you are hungry, you can enjoy proper food at the restaurant!

Important: for our fellow vegetarian friends, please note that the broth the restaurant uses isn’t vegetarian. But you might be able to find some vegetarian/vegan rice balls.

Ishigedo Rest Area Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Photo from Towada city

Please click HERE to get back to a list of the attractions at Oirase Gorge.

Byobu-Iwa (屏風岩)

Byobu-Iwa is the sheer cliff located around 1 km from Ishigedo Rest Area.

As an indicator, when you see the speed of the water flow start to slow down, look at the other side of the stream. You should be able to see the rugged cliff surface (=゚ω゚)ノ.

You probably won’t be able to see much of the sheer cliff in summer as the overgrown trees growing out of the cliff are covering the rock’s surface.

So, come to Byobu-Iwa between autumn to spring!

Especially in autumn, when the cliff is coloured by the vibrant autumn foliage (^_-)-☆.

Flow Of Ashura (阿修羅の流れ)

The Flow Of Ashura is probably the most famous spot in Oirase Gorge.

Befitting the name of the god of battle, Ashura, the stream of water flows violently between the rocks and the trees.

If you feel a bit tired and restless, it is a great spot to rest at. Sitting on the benches nearby with this magnificent view in front of you, are you sure you want to move on with your journey (≧▽≦)?

Important: Please be extra careful when you are walking around and taking photos at the Flow of Ashura as the surface can be slippery.

Flow Of Ashura Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan

Kujuku Shima (九十九島)

Kujuku Shima Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Photo from www.photo-ac.com/

If you manage to make yourself leave the spectacular view of the Flow of Ashura, you will find countless small islands like stones in the stream.

Imagine you are a dwarf (maybe as small as a bird), seeing the mossed stones with some having plants growing on top, you will definitely mistaken some of those stones as islands in the big ocean!

The area is therefore called Kujuku Shima, which means 99 islands.

Please click HERE to get back to a list of the attractions at Oirase Gorge.

Kumoi Falls (雲井の滝)

Kumoi Falls was formed by the continuous water erosion of the riverbed, but because of the different hardness of the stratum, instead of a 1-step waterfall, we have got a 3-tiered waterfall of 20 meters high to enjoy!

Combining with the surrounding nature, it is no doubt a spot where you will be taking dozens of photos no matter which season you visit the Gorge (^_-)-☆.

Kumoi Falls Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Photo from www.photo-ac.com/

Choshi Falls (銚子大滝)

Choshi Falls Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Photo from Towada city

Choshi Falls is the main dish of the entire scenery feast of Oirase Gorge. With a magnificent amount of water and the width of the waterfall, it is sure a masterpiece by nature (=゚ω゚)ノ

The Choshi Falls is also known as “Uodome Falls”. Due to the amount of water pouring out as well as its 7 meters height, fish can hardly swim upstream to reach Towada Lake.

So if you fancy a fishing trip at Towada Lake, probably save your time and effort for other activities (^_-)-☆

If you can, we recommend you to come to Choshi Falls in the early morning. If you are lucky, you might be able to see the mysterious face of the waterfall when the sun shines through the fog rising from the stream (*’▽’).

The same as the other parts of the Gorge, no matter which season you choose to visit Choshi Falls, it will surely blow your mind away!!

Especially during the winter, you will be able to see this stunning icefall (left image). Although it will be super cold, we reckon it is worth the effort for photo-taking sessions (´▽`*).

Passing the Choshi Falls, you will be at the end of your exploration in 30 minutes. But even when you are at the end of this trip at Nenokuchi, it is still too early to put away your camera. The scenery at Towada Lake’s east coast rivals what you have seen at Oirase Gorge!

Light Up Frozen Choshi Falls Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Photo from Towada city

Please click HERE to get back to a list of the attractions at Oirase Gorge.

Rental Bike Services at Oirase Gorge

Strolling through the 14km Gorge takes around 5 hours. Whilst the tracks are quite flat throughout, if that is a bit too much for you, you can always rent and return a bike from the below three places. This will cut the time required to travel through the Gorge by half.

  • Oirase Stream Museum (奥入瀬渓流館): available between the 1st of Apr to the end of Nov
  • Ishigedo Rest Area (石ヶ戸休憩所): available between the 23rd of Apr to mid-Nov
  • Nenokuchi’s JR Bus stop (JR バス子ノ口): available between the 23rd of Apr to mid-Nov

Important: the bikes that are available from the above 3 places are for customers with a height of 140 cm and above. Because there are no cycling tracks available at Oirase Gorge, bikes for kids are currently not available to ensure the safety of younger children.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Bike at Oirase Gorge

  • Electric bikes: 1,500 yen for 4 hours
  • Normal bikes: 1,000 yen for 4 hours

After 4 hours, the cost is 300 yen for every extra 30 mins.

Rental Bike Reservations

If you want to reserve your bikes, you can do so if you pick up the bikes before noon. To reserve for pick up from Oirase Stream Museum and Nenokuchi’s JR Bus stop, please call +81-176-74-1233. If you want to pick up your bikes from Ishigedo Rest Area, please call +81-176-74-2355.

Important: Please ensure you have your ID with you when you go to pick up your bikes (whether you have any reservations or not).

Please click HERE to get back to a list of the attractions at Oirase Gorge.

How to Access Oirase Gorge – Spring to Autumn

Please note the bus fare listed below are for anyone who is of the age of 13 years old and above. Primary school students’ bus fare is half of the normal bus fare.

The JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō (みずうみ号) is departing from the JR Aomori Station (青森駅) and JR Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅) from spring to autumn. From JR Hachinohe Station(八戸駅), JR Bus Oirase-Gō (おいらせ号) will carry you all the way to the scenic gorge.

Between spring and autumn, there are a couple of services available each day. Please find the timetable HERE. As the website is in Japanese (no English website currently available), click on the second tab – 時刻表 to access the timetable. The first table is for the services departing from JR Hachinohe Station/JR Aomori Station and JR Shin-Aomori Station, whereas the second table is for returning services.

For Mizuumi-Gō, please get off at Oirase Gorge Onsen Entrance (奥入瀬渓流温泉入口). For Oirase-Gō, please get off at Oirase Gorge Museum (奥入瀬渓流館).

In 2021, spring to autumn services are running from the 13th of April to the 7th of November.

From JR Aomori Station (青森駅)

The JR bus bound for Oirase Gorge has its bus stop at the station’s east exit’s bus stop #11.

Please refer to the map on the right-hand side when you get there (‘ω’)ノ.

One-way bus fare (payable when you get off the bus) to Oirase Stream Museum (奥入瀬渓流館) is 2,350 yen.

From JR Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅)

The JR bus bound for Oirase Gorge has its bus stop at the station’s east exit’s bus stop #1.

Please refer to the map on the right-hand side when you get there (‘ω’)ノ.

One-way bus fare (payable when you get off the bus) to Oirase Stream Museum (奥入瀬渓流館) is 2,350 yen.

From JR Hachinohe Station (八戸駅)

The JR bus bound for Oirase Gorge has its bus stop at the station’s west exit’s bus stop #1.

Please refer to the map on the right-hand side when you get there (‘ω’)ノ.

One-way bus fare (payable when you get off the bus) to Oirase Stream Museum (奥入瀬渓流館) is 1,990 yen.

Discounted 2-Days Ticket

From spring to autumn, the Aomori, Hachinohe, Lake Towada Free ticket (青森・八戸・十和田湖フリーきっぷ) is on sale.The ticket is valid for two days that gives you unlimited rides on Mizuumi-Gō (みずうみ号) and Oirase-Gō (おいらせ号).

You can purchase the ticket for 5,000 yen from JR Aomori Station’s Bus Tickets Office, the shop – NewDays outside of JR Hachinohe Station’s ticket gate, and, Lake Towada Station at Yasumiya.

How to Access Oirase Gorge – Winter

From JR Hachinohe Station (八戸駅)

The JR bus bound for Oirase Gorge has its bus stop at the station’s west exit’s bus stop #1.

Please refer to the map on the right-hand side when you get there (‘ω’)ノ.

One-way bus fare (payable when you get off the bus) to Oirase Stream Museum (奥入瀬渓流館) is 1,990 yen.

You can also purchase one of the return tickets that are sold on the bus. 3,000 yen for adults and 1,500 yen for kids (winter only).

Currently, the services departing from and for JR Hachinohe Station don’t require a reservation. But to ensure you can board the bus that you plan to, HERE is the link to reserve your spot. The website itself is Japanese, so if you need assistance translation-wise, please contact us HERE and we’ll get back to you. Alternatively, you can also book through Japan Bus Tour HERE, albeit this option is a fully guided tour, so you might need to stick to the tour’s schedule (and more expensive).

In winter, there are only 2 services available a day. Please find the timetable HERE. As the website is in Japanese (no English website currently available), click on the 2nd tab – 時刻表 to access the timetable. The 1st table is for the services departing from JR Hachinohe Station, whereas the 2nd table is for services returning to JR Hachinohe Station.

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