The famous Oirase Gorge and Lake Towada are probably the mainstream destinations of Aomori Prefecture. But if you just take the JR bus from JR Aomori Station straight to Yakeyama (the entrance of Oirase Gorge), you are missing quite a few scenic ponds!
In between the Sukayu Onsen (famous for its mixed-gender onsen) and Tsuta Onsen (which has an onsen pool directly built above the source of the onsen), you will find 9 unique ponds (or swamps if you like) that definitely worth a visit (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ. Among the nine, six of them are even linked by a promenade!
Jigoku-Numa Pond (地獄沼)
Albeit having a scary name, the scenery at Jigoku-numa pond is like heaven instead of its name – meaning ‘hell’ (´▽｀*). The reason behind its name is due to the sulfur-rich gas and onsen squirting out of the explosion crater trace and the fumaroles nearby.
Due to its volcanic activities, the water temperature of Jigoku-numa can be as high as 90 degrees. So the pond’s surface is usually covered by fog, creating a mysterious atmosphere!
Important: Please don’t go beyond any signboards that say “危険なのでこれ以降立ち入り禁止”. Those signboards are there for a very good reason. If you don’t want your Japan trip to start or end with you being in the hospital or, worse, death, please adhere to the signboards at all costs.
Other Seasons At Jigoku-Numa
As long as you don’t mind the strong sulfur smell, the view of Mt. Hakkoda from Jigoku-numa pond is just breathtaking.
If you are a morning person, capturing the sunrise at the pond can be another great scenic photo collection!
While many people choose to visit Jigoku-numa in mid-October for the autumn foliage, we believe that the pond surrounded by the white snow would be a worthwhile visit too,
Unlike all the other ponds in the area, this one will never be frozen by the cold!
How to Get to Jigoku-Numa
Jigoku-numa is just a 10-minute walk from Sukayu Onsen!
Suiren-Numa Pond (睡蓮沼)
This gorgeous pond is named Suiren-numa due to the water lilies grown and located on the other side of the pond.
However, the flowers only bloom for a really short period of time in early August. Nevertheless, why not visit the Suiren-numa Pond for this rare scenery? That way, you can avoid the heat in other parts of Japan at the same time (^_-)-☆.
If you can’t make time to travel to Aomori in August, don’t worry, the scenery at Suiren-numa still looks great regardless of what month you visit!
After the snow has been melted by the time it hits early June, the skunk cabbage will blossom all the way to late June. It is like a relay run, where the mountain azalea’s pink flowers color the lakeshore straight after!
Tip: as the season moves from the warm summer to autumn, it can be quite chilly at Suiren-numa Lake. So you might find that a cardigan or jacket may come in handy when you visit the Pond for its beautiful autumn foliage (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ
The autumn foliage season at Suiren-numa Lake starts in early October. Depending on the temperature/weather, you might be able to get a photo of the Lake covered in bright autumn color with the Hakkoda Mountain Range covered in white snow as a backdrop!
How to Get to Suiren-Numa Pond
Between mid-April to mid-November, you can take the JR Bus Mizuumi-gō (みずうみ号) and get off at Suiren-Numa Pond (睡蓮沼).
- From Aomori:
To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumi from either JR Aomori Station’s (青森駅) bus stop no.11 or the bus stop no.1 located at JR Shin-Aomori’s (新青森駅) east exit.
- From Lake Towada:
To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumi from JR Tohoku Bus Nenokuchi Station (ジェイアールバス東北 子ノ口駅)
For more information about the JR Bus Mizuumi-gō, refer to the access information session in our Oirase Gorge article.
If you are planning to visit Suiren-Numa Pond from late November to early April, driving is probably the best option. While it isn’t impossible to walk from Sukayu Onsen, it will take you at least a few hours to get there…
Tsuta-Numa Pond (蔦沼)
Tsuta-Numa is most famous for its autumn foliage, and to be exact, it is the autumn foliage that can only be seen at the moment when the sun just arises Σ(ﾟДﾟ).
To get the perfect photo, many photographers arrive at Tsutanuma as early as 3:30 am!!
During the fall foliage season between mid to the end of October, the sun usually rises between 5:30 and 6:30 am. So if you stay at the Tsuta Onsen, just an 11-minute walk away, you should still be able to capture this unreal scenery even if you get up around 5 am.
But keep in mind that it is best to get a space in the front row at the moment of sunrise, so no one blocks your sight.
If you are really not a morning person, the view at Tsuta-numa is still amazing, but just not as red and vibrant as the one you would get when the sun first shows its face (*´ω｀).
Tsuta-Numa Pond in Late October
As mentioned before, Tsu-ta Numa Pond is an extremely popular destination in the autumn foliage season. So from 2022, a reservation and/or admission fee may be required to access the pond’s observation deck between the 20th to the 31st of October.
- A reservation is required if you want to access the observation deck from 5 am to 7:30 am.
- The cost is:
- 4,000 yen per car
- 2,000 yen per motorbike
- In addition, each person who enters the observation area will be charged 2,000 yen.
- The cost is:
- No reservation is required during the day. But if you drive there, it will cost you
- 2,000 yen per car
- Motorbikes are charged 1,000 yen per bike
Please refer to HERE to reserve and for more information.
Important: Reservation is open on the 2nd of September. While you can reserve up to 3 days in advance, the number of spots is limited. Once the tickets are sold out, you won’t be able to make a reservation.
Tsuta-Nana-Numa Ponds (蔦七沼)
Tsuta-numa is one of the most famous ponds among the other six in the area (collectively known as Tsuta-nana-numa (蔦七沼)). Apart from Aka-numa (赤沼), which is 2 km away, the other six ponds are relatively closer to one other and are connected with a looped promenade – Numa-Meguri No Komichi (沼めぐりの小路) and will only take you an hour to stroll!
Tsuta-nana-numa includes Tsuta-numa (蔦沼), Kagami-numa (鏡沼), Tsuki-numa (月沼), Naga-numa (長沼), Suga-numa (菅沼), Hyotan-numa (瓢箪沼), and Aka-numa (赤沼).
For the promenade map, please refer HERE to the official website (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ
The Relaxing and Beautiful Promenade
The promenade starts from Tsuta Onsen Visitor Centre (蔦温泉ビジターセンター). Before you head off to explore, it might be a good idea to get some information about what you will see during this scenic walk and what wildlife you may encounter!
Important: the promenade was built to minimize human impact on the virgin forest. So please follow the promenade and don’t attempt to wander around freely.
If you are a big animal lover, instead of autumn, you might want to visit the Tsuta-nana-numa from late May to late June.
The virgin forest is filled with energy during this time of the year. Birds can be easily spotted around the area as it is their breeding season!
In June, frogs will join the party with the birds, and you will get a symphony of nature (*’▽’).
When you go past Hyotan-numa, look carefully at the trees around you, and you might be able to find the eggs of the Forest Green Tree Frog (the white thing in the photo on the left-hand side)!
In July, don’t forget to come out of your hotel room because the nights will be glowing with fireflies (≧▽≦).
In autumn, don’t just look up for the autumn leaves, but look down for mushrooms too (we don’t know if they are edible though so don’t start picking!).
How to Get to Tsuta-Numa
From mid-April to mid-November, you can take JR Bus Mizuumi from either JR Aomori Station’s bus stop no. 11 or the bus stop no. 1 located at JR Shin-Aomori’s east exit and get off at Tsuta-Numa.
If you are visiting the area in winter, you will have to drive, unfortunately…
Aka-Numa (赤沼), The Pond that Was Left Out…
The Aka-numa pond was left out of the promenade – Numa-Meguri No Komichi (沼めぐりの小路) for a good reason.
To get to the pond, you will be doing some real hiking without any proper hiking course built. You can easily get lost too…
But once you get there, you will feel your effort is worth it! No matter how tiring it was to hike all the way up, once this magnificent view is right in front of you, we are sure that your body will be healed instantly!
How to Get to Aka-Numa
When the JR Bus Mizuumi operates between Aomori and Oirase Gorge, you can catch one and get off at Senninbashi (仙人橋). If you are driving, you will be parking your car at the car park close to Senninbashi Bridge as well.
From then on, please follow the red arrows in the photos from this article. Whilst the article is in Japanese, we found it really helpful (^_-)-☆.
Discover Other Attractions around the Area
Discover other stunning attractions in Hakkōda Mountains (八甲田山). You will find some of the most breathtaking scenery as you trek through the mountain trails that connect you to ponds and lookouts.
For more information, please refer to our article on Hakkōda Mountains!