The Deep North

Exploring the beautiful far north of the main island Honshu. Hiking in forests and on upland marshes, with stays in traditional inns, and little-known natural hot springs. Delicious food!

Highlights

Mountain and upland hikes.
Hidden hotsprings and onsen by the sea.
Delicious seafood, and apples!
Lovely rural landscapes worth exploring.
Nebuta, Neputa summer festivals.
The largest natural beech forests in the Northern Hemisphere. A UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 1

We travel north on the bullet train, then on to the Shirakami Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the last stands of virgin Siebolds beech forest which used to cover much of northern Japan.

Overnight lodge.

Day 2

Climb through beech forests, adjoining the World Heritage Site – ‘Situated in the mountains of northern Honshu, this trackless site includes the last virgin remains of the cool-temperate forest of Siebold’s beech trees that once covered the hills and mountain slopes of northern Japan. The black bear, the serow and 87 species of birds can be found in this forest.’, to Shirakamidake peak.

Overnight lodge.

Day 3

Today we’ll explore Hirosaki with its old town centred on a 17th century castle. Hirosaki hosts one of the great local festivals, the Neputa Matsuri, an event where large, colourful, lit floats are pulled through the town at night, and which rivals the Aomori Nebuta Festival which attracts huge numbers of visitors. The Hirosaki festival, held during the first week in August, offers opportunities to get much closer to the action!

Overnight hotel.

Day 4

Commonly known as Tsugaru Fuji, Iwaki-san stands proudly on the northern plains of Aomori and is a great day hike. Fine views as far as the ocean from the top.

Overnight hotel.

Day 5

Today we’ll hike the Hakkoda upland area south of Hirosaki. Hakkoda is a raised marshland area surrounded by low peaks (about 1,500m), well-known for the many species of highland plants.

Our lodging has onsen natural hot spring baths.

Overnight ‘hidden hot spring’ lodge.

Day 6

Nearby Lake Towada in the Towada Hachimantai National Park, one of Japan’s oldest parks, offers good hiking opportunities, notably along the Oirase Gorge.
After visiting the lake we’ll travel the short distance to our comfortable lodgings.

Overnight modern hot spring ryokan.

Day 7

Returning to Aomori on a local train, we’ll transfer for the bullet train back to Tokyo.

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Reviews

"I could not have seen more plants or flowers than we saw in those beautiful park lands and it will take me pleasant years to understand what I saw." - Barbara, USA

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