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:

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 on transportation 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.

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 (which is 5 km, or 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 Fal 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
photo-ac.com/

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 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 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)

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 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
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 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 got 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
photo-ac.com/

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

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

For the 2021/2022 season, the tour is running from the 17th of December 2021 to the 6th of March 2022. For more information and to reserve your spot, please refer to the official website HERE.

As the information for the tour isn’t available on the official English website this year, you can use Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar to translate the webpage to English.

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 mid-April to mid-November. This will cut the time required to travel through the gorge by half.

  • Oirase Stream Museum (奥入瀬渓流館)
  • 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.

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.

How to Access Oirase Gorge – Spring to Autumn

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.

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 2022, spring to autumn services is running from the 11th 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 no. 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 no. 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 no. 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.

JR Bus’s Bus Fare to Oirase Gorge

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

  • From JR Aomori Station or JR Shin Aomori Station to Yakeyama: 2,350 yen
  • From JR Hachinohe Station to Yakeyama: 1,990 yen
  • From Yasumiya in Lake Towada: 1,150 yen

Tip: Get the 5 DaysJR EAST PASS (Tohoku area) to save on transportation!

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 JR Hachinohe Station’s ticket gate, and Lake Towada Station at Yasumiya.

Free Shuttle Bus Services from Yakeyama to Lake Towada

From mid-October to mid-December, free shuttle bus services are running between Yasumiya and the West Coast area, as well as from Yakeyama to Yasumiya. In 2021, the services operated from the 21st of October to the 12th of December. As the information for the shuttle bus isn’t available on the English official website, please refer to the Japanese website HERE. You can use Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar to translate the webpage to English.

Please note in 2021, it is essential to reserve your spot to board this free service.

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 no. 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).

Important: We will update the links when it is available on the JR website.

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, contact us HERE, and we will 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.

Tip: You can also translate the webpage to English by Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.

Discover the Scenic Attractions between Hakkōda Ropeway and Yakeyama

Jogakura-Bridge-Aomori-Japan
Click the photo to find out more stunning places to visit around Oirase Gorge!

Coming from Aomori, 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 goes hand in hand. So when you plan 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.

Kankodai-Observatory-Lake-Towada-Aomori-Japan
Click the photo to find out about the stunning attractions in Lake Towada!

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