Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Stunning Spots along the Akita Nairiku Train Line

The trains of the Akita Nariku Line (秋田内陸線) run in the Akita Prefecture countryside. The one-carriage train decorated with cute Akita pictures melts the passenger’s heart, and the scenery from the train’s window will fill the whole carriage with clicking cameras!

Akita-Nairiku-Line-Akita-Japan
© Akita Tourism Federation

Some of the most picturesque destinations of Akita prefecture, however, do require a bit of effort to get to. And by effort, we mean a short sightseeing taxi trip plus some degree of hiking.

The only problem with this train line is getting there. You will need to take the trains running on the Ōu Line (奥羽本線) to get to JR Takanosu Station (鷹ノ巣駅) first.

The first station of the Akita Nariku Line – Takanosu Station (鷹ノ巣駅), is just conveniently located next to the JR Takanosu Station.

Tip: To get the best view of the scenery along the rail track, go straight to the front or the back of the train. The photos/videos that you can take from there are just at a totally different level than the ones from the windows next to the window seats (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The Ōu Line runs all the way from JR Aomori Station (青森駅) in the Aomori Prefecture, passing JR Hirosaki Station (弘前駅), JR Odate Station (大館駅), JR Takanosu Station (鷹ノ巣駅), and to the south of the Akita Prefecture after passing JR Akita Station (秋田駅).

List of the Most Beautiful Places around the Akita Nairiku Line

Tip: If you are coming for the autumn foliage, the color usually peaks from mid to the end of October.

Yasunotaki Falls (安の滝)

© Tohokukanko.com.jp

Yasunotaki Falls ranked second amongst the top 100 waterfalls in Japan. And it is not hard to understand. Especially in autumn, the 45-minute hiking course to the falls is just breathtaking!

Unfortunately, getting to this picturesque waterfall isn’t all that easy. It is not close to any train stations, and there are no bus services that will bring you straight to the Yasunotaki Falls.

And if you do drive, we would still recommend you to catch one of the sightseeing taxis. Because firstly, the number of car spaces at the car park at the track’s entrance is limited. Many people have to try another day just because they can’t find a car space. Secondly, not only will you be driving on earthen or gravel roads, the roads are narrow, which is the worst when you have a car coming from the opposite direction.

All we want to say is that you don’t want to use up all your energy trying to park before you even start hiking!

About the Sightseeing Taxis

The sightseeing taxis for Yasunotaki Falls depart from Ani-Matagi Station (阿仁マタギ駅) of the Akita Nairiku Line. HERE is the timetable for the Akita Nairiku Line. Currently, there is no English version, so you will have to check the timetable with the Japanese characters (which is why we have the Japanese characters next to the stations’ names).

Note that the timetable from Takanosu Station to Aniai Station is the 2nd table on the pdf timetable link.

If you still have trouble reading it, contact us HERE, and we will get back to you.

Important: Reservation at least one day in advance is required to use this taxi service. So if you can’t speak Japanese, we recommend you get to one of the Akita Nairiku Line’s stations the day before and can kindly ask the staff at the train station to help you make a booking. Because Ani Taxi only takes bookings through phone calls at +81-186-82-3115.

The timetable for the sightseeing taxi can be found HERE. Again, there is only a Japanese version available at the moment. The ones that depart from Aniai Station are C Route (Cコース) on the top left corner on the second page.

  • The one-way cost is
    • 2,200 yen for adults
    • 1,100 yen for elementary school students and younger

The sightseeing taxi information page on the Akita Nairiku Line HERE has the courses’ names and phone numbers for reservation if you want to refer back to them.

The Best Time to Visit Yasunotaki Falls

In the afternoon, the sun will directly shine on the part of the mountain where Yasunotaki Falls is. During this time of the day, you have a large chance of getting a photo of Yasunotaki Falls with a rainbow on the waterfall!

In autumn, arrive at the Yasunotaki Falls between 1 to 3 pm to capture the most beautiful moments of the waterfall (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Note: If you are driving to Yasunotaki Falls, the car park will likely be full by 10 am…

From the Car Park of Yasunotaki Falls to the Actual Waterfall

Whether taking a taxi or self-driving, you must get out of the car at Yasunotaki Falls’ car park.

Behind the directory signboard, there is a bathroom that is quite well-maintained. We highly recommend you utilize it before hiking because there is no toilet during your 45-minute hike (at least a 90-minute round trip).

The first part of the track is relatively well-maintained, but some part of the track isn’t. So hiking shoes and hiking poles are always your best friends.

Yasunotaki Falls is a two-tiered waterfall. The tracks leading to the bottom of the waterfall are relatively easy. But if you have enough physical strength, definitely hike up to the first tier of the waterfall because the second-best photo spot is located on the way to the first tier of the waterfall, with the third-best photo spot at the top of the mountain!

Important: It is also possible that you will meet a bear during this trip (albeit the possibility isn’t high as they hide from us too). According to the guide who has multiple bear encounters, if you see a bear, DON’T SCREAM! The best thing to do is try not to scare the bear and get out of the scene slowly.

On the Way to the First-Tier of Yasunotaki Falls

As mentioned, getting to the first tier of the waterfall isn’t for everyone. Refer to the 7th photo in the Instagram post above, and prepare yourself to climb through something like that.

You should see a staircase most likely covered by grass on the left-hand side of the bottom of the waterfall. The staircase marks the start of the trail to the first tier of the Yasunotaki Falls.

The top tier of the waterfall should be in front of you in 10 minutes.

Remember to explore the waterfall basin after you have your fill of the beauty of the top tier of Yasunotaki Falls. You will get a really close shot of the waterfall over there (^_-)-☆.

Yasunotaki Falls’s Fall Foliage Season and Winter Closure

  • The leaves usually start changing color from late September and peak between mid to the end of October.
  • Due to heavy snowfall, Yasunotaki Falls isn’t accessible from early November to late May.
  • The sightseeing taxi bounds for Yasunotaki Falls are operating from early June to early November. The exact operating dates differ depending on the snow condition in the area.

Click HERE to get back to a list of the most beautiful places around the Akita Nairiku Line.

Tōdō Falls (桃洞滝)

© Akita Tourism Federation

A 4 km stroll will lead you to this unique waterfall in Mt. Moriyoshi (森吉山). As Tōdō Falls isn’t well-known amongst tourists, especially foreigners, so unless it is autumn, you might get the entire trekking course to yourself (*’▽’).

It should take around an hour to get to Tōdō Falls. Accounting for photo stops, you might want to factor in 3 to 4 hours to get back to the track’s entrance.

Also, Mt. Moriyoshi is home to Asian Black Bears. Bringing bear bells with you should reduce the chance of a bear encounter!

Moriyoshiyama Yaseichoju Center (森吉山野生鳥獣センター)

To start trekking to Tōdō Falls, you need to get to the Moriyoshiyama Yasei Chōjū Center (森吉山野生鳥獣センター) first.

Here you will find all the information about Mt. Moriyoshi’s ecosystem, what kind of wildlife is living in the mountain, and of course, all the hiking and trekking routes that all can enjoy!

About the Sightseeing Taxis

The sightseeing taxis for Tōdō Falls/Todo Valley depart from Animaeda Station (阿仁前田駅) of the Akita Nairiku Line. HERE is the timetable for the Akita Nairiku Line. Currently, there is no English version, so you will have to check the timetable with the Japanese characters (which is why we have the Japanese characters next to the stations’ names).

Note that the timetable from Takanosu Station to Aniai Station is the second table on the pdf timetable link.

If you still have trouble reading it, contact us HERE, and we will get back to you.

Important: Reservation at least 20 minutes in advance is required to use this taxi service. So if you can’t speak Japanese, we recommend you get to one of the Akita Nairiku Line’s stations and can kindly ask the staff at the train station to help you make a booking. Because Yonaizawa Taxi (米内沢タクシー) only takes bookings through phone calls at +81-186-72-3212. Also, the return taxi trip needs to be booked two hours in advance, so don’t forget to make a booking with your taxi driver before he heads off!

The timetable for the sightseeing taxi can be found HERE. Again, there is only a Japanese version available at the moment. The ones that depart from Aniai Station are D Route (Dコース) on the top left corner on the second page.

  • The one-way cost is
    • 2,600 yen for adults
    • 1,300 yen for elementary school students and younger
© Akita Tourism Federation

On the other hand, if you decide to stay at Yunosawa Yumoto Soma Onsen Ryokan (湯の沢湯本杣温泉旅館), the sightseeing taxi can pick you up from there too.

The cost for this option is:

  • 1,600 yen for adults
  • 800 yen for elementary school students and younger

The sightseeing taxi information page on the Akita Nairiku Line HERE has the courses’ names and phone numbers for reservation if you want to refer back to them.

Tōdō Valley Trekking Course (桃洞滝渓谷散策コース)

From the back of the Moriyoshiyama Yasei Chōjū Center, you will find the trail that leads to Tōdō Falls.

Although most of the trail hasn’t been artificially altered, it isn’t hard to find your way as there are signs along the way.

Some parts of the end of the track are made of wood. As the forest can get quite humid, be very careful when walking on those wooden paths. It can get really slippery with the moss growing on top of the track.

If you are lucky and it rained the day before, there should be some puddles during the last part of the journey. The puddles will reflect the surrounding nature with the proper lighting, which is another great photo opportunity for you (^_-)-☆.

To minimize the impact of human activities, even some of the bridges to cross the rivers along the way are just stepping stones (and in a few cases, it is just a wooden board)!

The tracks sometimes split into two smaller paths. Always check the signboard at the intersection when in doubt about which path to take. The arrow that has Tōdō Falls (桃洞滝) label is the one you want to follow.

The wide track will split into two smaller paths around 45 minutes after you begin this stunning journey. Please turn right here to the Tōdō Falls. Otherwise, the trail that connects you to the mountain stream will lead you all the way to Akamizu Valley (赤水渓谷), which is a 90-minute trip to Usagitaki Falls (兎滝).

The Best Time to Visit Tōdō Falls

If you are aiming for a photoshoot, arrive at Tōdō Falls in the morning. Otherwise, you will only get backlight in the afternoon…

Season-wise, the light spring green can be seen from mid-May to mid-June. The autumn foliage peaks from early to mid-October.

Please note that Tōdō Valley is closed from mid-November to the end of May each year. So, unfortunately, the winter view of this scenic place will remain a mystery for most of us.

Passing the Tōdō Falls

Starting from Todo Falls, it is a waterfall tour trekking upstream.

If you haven’t noticed by now, the shape of the Todo Falls looks like female genitalia. The waterfall is therefore known as “Medaki (女滝)”, “me” is short for “mesu” which means female in Japanese.

And it just happens there is a waterfall upstream with a giant rock that looks like male genitalia close up. The waterfall is therefore called “Odaki (雄滝), “o” is short for “osu” which means male in Japanese (´▽`*).

Tip: If you visit this wonderful place in summer, be fully prepared for mosquito attacks! Long sleeves, long pants, insect repellent, insect bite medicine, etc… are highly recommended. But even if you are going in spring or autumn, having a bottle of insect repellent should still be a good idea (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to get back to a list of the most beautiful places around the Akita Nairiku Line

Taihei Lake (太平湖) and Komata-Kyō (小又峡)

The lake is an artificial lake that was formed upon the completion of Moriyoshi Dam (森吉ダム). On the other side of the 195-hectare wide lake is the less-traveled scenic spot – Komata-Kyō.

Each year from June to the end of October, sightseeing boat services run from 9:30 am to 4 pm to connect nature lovers to the splendid waterfalls hidden in the deep mountain of Mt. Moriyoshi.

© Akita Tourism Federation

About Lake Taihei Greenhouse

Whether you are driving or taking a sightseeing taxi, your first stop at Taihei Lake is the Lake Taihei Green House (太平湖グリーンハウス). Don’t just walk by when you see it, as you will need to get your sightseeing boat’s boarding pass here.

Tips:
→ Use the toilet facility in the Green House. Especially if you plan to trek in Komata-Kyō, as the toilet on the other side of the lake is a temporary one.
→ The road leading to the Lake Taihei Green House is quite windy. If you get car sick easily, remember to take some preventative measures!
→ For those who plan to explore Komata-Kyō, hiking shoes are recommended.

If you stay over at Okunoyu Moriyoshisanso (奥ノ湯 森吉山荘), check with the hotel staff as you should be able to get discounts for the sightseeing boat (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The restaurant at the Green House is temporarily closed, but you can still get some snacks from the shop in the house.

Because it takes around 10 minutes to get to the pier and the staircases leading to the pier are quite steep, we recommend heading to the pier as soon as you are ready.

About Taihei Lake’s Sightseeing Boat

  • The boat operates from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm on an hourly interval to Komata-Kyō
    • You can refer to the official website HERE and translate it to English using Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar
  • The boat from Komata-Kyō back is operating from 10 am to 4 pm on an hourly interval
  • The cost is currently
    • 1,500 yen for adults
    • 750 for children up to 12 years of age
  • The boat is operating from June to the beginning of November each year (exact dates change year by year depending on the snow condition)
  • It takes around 20 minutes to get to Komata-Kyō

About the Sightseeing Taxis

The sightseeing taxis for Todo Falls/Todo Valley depart from Animaeda Station (阿仁前田駅) of the Akita Nairiku Line. HERE is the timetable for the Akita Nairiku Line. Currently, there is no English version, so you will have to check the timetable with the Japanese characters (which is why we have the Japanese characters next to the stations’ names).

Note that the timetable from Takanosu Station to Aniai Station is the second table on the pdf timetable link.

If you still have trouble reading it, contact us HERE, and we will get back to you.

Important: Reservation at least 20 minutes in advance is required to use this taxi service. So if you can’t speak Japanese, we recommend you get to one of the Akita Nairiku Line’s stations and can kindly ask the staff at the train station to help you make a booking. Because Yonaizawa Taxi (米内沢タクシー) only takes bookings through phone calls at +81-186-72-3212. Also, the return taxi trip needs to be booked two hours in advance, so don’t forget to make a booking with your taxi driver before he heads off!

The timetable for the sightseeing taxi can be found HERE. Again, there is only a Japanese version available at the moment. The ones that depart from Aniai Station are F Route (Fコース) on the top left corner on the second page. The one-way cost is 2,200 yen (1,100 yen for kids up to and including primary school students) per person.

On the other hand, if you decide to stay at Yunosawa Yumoto Soma Onsen Ryokan (湯の沢湯本杣温泉旅館) or Okunoyu Moriyoshisanso (奥ノ湯 森吉山荘), the sightseeing taxi can pick you up from there too.

The cost for this option is:

  • for 1,600 yen for adults
  • 800 yen for elementary school students and younger
© Akita Tourism Federation

Komata-Kyō

© Tohokukanko.com.jp

The Komata-Kyō is an area that almost has no trace of human activity. This means the tracks can be quite slippery and sometimes relatively unsafe, with some parts of it having a straight drop.

So please don’t go into the area with slippers or pretty shoes like high heels!

From the Komata-Kyō pier, it takes around 45 minutes to get to the most magnificent waterfall in the area – Sangai Falls (三階滝).

Along the way, there are a couple of unique waterfalls that you might want some selfies with (like the Ryūjinnotaki Falls (竜神の滝) in the photo)!

© Tohokukanko.com.jp

Sangai Falls (三階滝)

© Tohokukanko.com.jp

The Sangai Falls, like its name, is a three-tiered waterfall. No matter how many times you come, you will still be fascinated!

As moss grows on the rocks around the waterfall, if you want to get close to the waterfall basin, watch your step because you don’t want to be washed away by that magnificent amount of water (‘ω’)ノ.

It is possible to hike from here all the way to the Moriyoshiyama Yasei Chōjū Center (passing by the Tōdō Falls). But, this hiking track is quite dangerous and isn’t for anyone.

If you do wish to complete this four hours course, please arrange guide services by contacting NPO Bōken no Kagi Kūn NPO 冒険の鍵クーン) by sending an email to [email protected].

Best Time to Visit Taihei Lake (太平湖) and Komata-Kyō (小又峡)

  • The light spring green season is from mid-May to early June
  • The autumn foliage season is from mid to late October

Click HERE to get back to a list of the Most Beautiful Places around the Akita Nairiku Line.

Meet the Snow Monsters at Mt. Moriyoshi and Immerse Yourself in the Stunning Scenery

Many tourists visit Mt. Moriyoshi in winter for skiing and/or the snow monsters. But, it is a great destination to visit throughout the year.

As one of Japan’s Top One Hundred Mountains with beautiful flowers, in early June, more than three hundred different species of flowers begin to bloom. This peaks in late June and lasts all the way to late August!

Mt-Moriyoshi-Autumn-Gondola-Akita-Japan
Learn more about all the great attractions in Mt. Moriyoshi with our article!

In October, the fall colors begin to blanket the mountain. During this time, a cable car offers an easy way to access the top of the mountain. This 20-minute journey to the top of the mountain is so stunning that the only appropriate way to describe it would be “wow”!

Find out more about this beautiful spot with our article on Mt. Moriyoshi HERE!

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