Vegetarian's Japan Guide

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 artificial walking tracks, the whole gorge remains in 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 the river’s downstream, called Yakeyama. This ensures you don’t enjoy the main dish before the appetizers. 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:

For more details on transportation information, please refer to our article on How to Get to Oirase Gorge.

Tip: You can book a tour with a government-licensed guide HERE to guide you through Oirase Gorge.

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.

Tip: We highly recommend you utilize 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 (5 km/1 hour away)…

Recommended Clothes and Things to Bring When You Visit Oirase Gorge

Long sleeves, long pants, and non-slippery shoes are, needless to say. Apart from the hot summer months (July and August), 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
  • Bear bell (just in case)

Oirase Gorge’s Fall Foliage Season

The autumn foliage season at Oirase Gorge is usually from mid-October to early November. If you are after the cherry blossom, head to other spots in Aomori Prefecture (such as Towada City Government Office Street), as there are sadly no cherry blossom trees around the gorge.

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 river’s stones are covered in white snow, it is as stunning and mesmerizing as Disney’s Frozen!

Shimeikei Stream Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

Samidare No Nagare (三乱の流れ)

Samidare No Nagare Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
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, various streams flow 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”…

Ishigedo Stream Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan

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

Ishigedo (石ヶ戸)’s Scary Legend…

Ishigedo Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Towada City

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

To us, it isn’t exactly a hut that people want to live in (you might feel the same after seeing 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 travelers. 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)

Despite the frightening legend, tourists nowadays don’t need to worry about being killed and robbed at the resting area 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 restaurant’s broth isn’t vegetarian. But you might be able to find some vegetarian/vegan rice balls.

Ishigedo Rest Area Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
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 the speed of the water flow starts 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 colored 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 (≧▽≦)?

Flow Of Ashura Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan

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

Kujuku Shima (九十九島)

Kujuku Shima Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan

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 mistake some of those stones for 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 a 3-tiered 20-meter tall waterfall 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

Chōshi Falls (銚子大滝)

Choshi Falls Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Towada City

Chōshi 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 Chōshi Falls is also known as “Uodome Falls”. Due to the amount of water pouring out as well as its 7-meter 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 come to Chōshi 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 can see this stunning icefall. Although it will be super cold, we reckon it is worth the effort for photo-taking sessions (´▽`*).

Those interested in seeing the lit-up frozen waterfall at night can book to join one of the nighttime icefall tours.

For the 2023/2024 season, the tour run from the 15th of December 2023 to the early March 2023. Note that the tours aren’t held every day. For more information and to reserve your spot, please refer to the official website HERE and change the language using Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.

As some of the information remains in Japanese, you can contact us HERE if you need assistance.

Light Up Frozen Choshi Falls Oirase Gorge Aomori Japan
Towada City

Passing the Chōshi Falls, you will be at the end of your exploration in 30 minutes. But even at Nenokuchi, the end of the scenic trip, 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!

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 2 to 3 hours (5 to 6 hours for a return trip). 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 from 9 am to 4:30 pm from early-April to early-November. This will cut the time required to travel through the gorge by half.

  • Oirase Stream Museum (奥入瀬渓流館/奥入瀬湧水館)
  • Ishigedo Rest Area (石ヶ戸休憩所)
  • Nenokuchi’s JR Bus stop (JR バス子ノ口)

Important: The bikes available from the above 3 places are for customers with a height of 140 cm and above. Because no cycling tracks are available at Oirase Gorge, bikes for children are currently unavailable to ensure the safety of younger children.

If you read Japanese, you can also refer to the official website HERE.

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

  • e-Bike (mountain bike type): 3,000 yen for 4 hours
  • Electric-assisted bikes: 2,000 yen for 4 hours
  • Normal bikes: 1,000 yen for 4 hours

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

Tip: In peak seasons, reservation is recommended. Bicycles can be fully rented out in the morning.

Rental Bike Reservations

To reserve a rental bicycle, please call +81-176-74-1212 or by emailing [email protected].

Important: Please ensure you have your ID when you pick up your bikes (whether you have a reservation or not).

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

Discover the Scenic Attractions between Hakkōda Ropeway and Yakeyama

Click the photo to find out more stunning places to visit around Oirase Gorge!

Coming from Aomori City, before reaching Oirase Gorge, there are a series of stunning attractions that the JR bus drives pass by. If you have extra time, how about hopping off the bus to explore these breathtaking places or even a night in Mt. Hakkōda?

For more information, please refer to our article about where to visit between Hakkōda Ropeway to Yakeyama!

Explore Lake Towada after Your Visit to Oirase Gorge

Oirase Gorge and Lake Towada are the two destinations in Aomori Prefecture that go hand in hand. So when planning your trip, remember to allocate at least half a day at this stunning lake!

For more information, please refer to our article on Lake Towada (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click the photo to find out about the stunning attractions in Lake Towada!

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