Spectacular autumn colours in Northern Tohoku.
Mountains and lakes dazzled with reds and yellows look absolutely fantastic!

Once short summer in the area is over, its climate and landscape rapidly start to shift for the upcoming season – autumn. Leaves turn vivid red, orange and yellow, covering mountains and valleys to celebrate autumn foliage. Autumn is also an ideal season to enjoy Onsen in the area as the peak summertime tourists have gone and the winter sports tourists are yet to arrive. Soaking in an open-air Onsen in the mountainous area while watching colourful autumn display will be truly magnificent experience.

Iwate Prefecture

  • Matsukawa Onsen
    Three Ryokans stand in the same area and their hydrogen sulphide-rich onsen contain lots of “Yunohana” (sinter deposit) and smell strong. Each onsen is clear, non-coloured at the source however once contacted with air its colour changes into milky white, sometimes tinged with emerald green or blue. Matsukawa onsen is enjoyable throughout the year including deep snow mid-winter thanks to mighty snowplow trucks but autumn is highly recommended for the vibrancy of the autumn colours.

    Access: 40 minutes drive via Route 282 and prefectural road #212
  • Hachimantai
    Being a part of Towada-Hachimantai National Park, Hachimantai area attracts millions of tourists all year round for its well preserved nature. The area is widely known as a primary destination in Northern Tohoku for autumn foliage hunters nationwide. It also boasts lots of small ponds and peaks on gentle terrain in the area, making it very popular not just for fully equipped mountain climbers, but also for day hikers. This means you encounter a variety of scenic views during a short walk.
    The Aspite Line running through the National Park offers leisurely drive as different display of colours unfolds at every turn of the winding road.
  • Chuson-ji, Hiraizumi city
    Important component of the World Heritage is also famous for brilliant autumn colours against smoky grey authentic Japanese temple buildings. Visitors will be faced with red and yellow autumn leaves as going up the slope leading to the Main Hall and Golden Hall.
    Chrysanthemum Festival begins from mid-October for a month every year. The festival adds another seasonal colorful backdrop to the temple, entertains visitors further. Autumn Fujiwara Festival at the beginning of November highlights the height of autumn foliage.

    Access: 1 hour 30 minutes drive via Tohoku Expressway or 3 hours via Route 282 and 4
  • Geibikei Gorge, Ichinoseki city
    Flat boat piloted by a skillful boatman with a push pole sails a river in the gorge between towering 100 meters cliffs. It may sound thrilling like a canyon rafting but actually is quite peaceful 90 minutes boat ride. Boat sails as slow as people walk so that passengers have enough time to appreciate views while listening to a tune sung by the boatman.
    Geibikei gorge shows distinctive beauty each season. Pale purple flowers of Japanese wisteria bloom in spring, dazzling autumn colours in autumn are outstanding. Kotatsu will be installed on the boat during winter, turning the boat to a banquet hall. Drinking good Sake while watching snow covered gorge is also a fun.

    Access: 1 hour 50 minutes drive via Tohoku Expressway or 3 hours via Route 282 and 4

Akita Prefecture

  • Nyuto Onsen, Senboku city
    The area is dotted with many hot springs, well known for truly traditional Onsen bathing atmosphere. Famous “Tsuru-no-yu” still retains thatched guest house (Honjin) which was used for accommodating feudal lords in the past, now accommodates guests from all over the world.
    Lodging facilities in Nyuto are, in general, not lavish or luxury either. Historically, they have been built for those who look to spa therapy or purely enjoy Onsen. Surely enough, Nyuto is one of the top quality “hidden” Onsens in Japan.

    Access: 1 hour 45 minutes drive via Tohoku Expressway and Route 46 or 2 hours 15 minutes via Route 46 and 341
  • Kakunodate, Senboku city
    Autumn colours in the Samurai residence area evokes a feeling of nostalgia, makes us wonder if people in the past had enjoyed this breathtaking view. Kakunodate attracts more than one million visitors during “Hanami” season but autumn foliage is no less popular than it. Outstanding beauty peculiar to the Samurai residence area is; man-made architectural beauty being blended right in with natural beauty, creating eye-grabbing harmony.
    Dakigaeri valley, 15 minutes drive from JR Kakunodate station, is another major tourist attraction of the city during autumn foliage. Its water is mysterious whitish-blue and highly acidic as it originates from Tamagawa Onsen, the most acidic hot spring in Japan.

    Access to Samurai residence area: 1 hour 45 minutes drive via Tohoku Expressway or 2 hours drive via Route 282 and 4
    Access to Dakigaeri valley: 1 hour 40 minutes drive via Tohoku Expressway or 1 hour 50 minutes drive via Route 282 and 4

Aomori Prefecture

  • Lake Towada
    This caldera lake is located on the border of Akita and Aomori prefecture. The lake is famous as the home for farmed kokanee salmon.
    A lot of activities including boat ride, canoeing, guided walking tours, snowshoe walking tours are available to choose for visitors.
    As it is a caldera lake, best observation spots are on the rim of the lake. Kanko-dai, Sasamori, Hakkatouge and Takinosawa observation deck are recommended to overlook the lake.

    Access: 1 hour 30 minutes drive via Tohoku Expressway or 1 hour 50 minutes via Route 282 and 103
  • Oirase Gorge
    The Oirase river flows out of the Lake Towada, runs down towards Yakiyama, North East to the Lake. Oirase Gorge stretches along the river and is designated as special national treasure. A road and a walking trail run close to the river, often in parallel, giving easy access for visitors to the Gorge.
    Lots of picturesque spots such as Kumoi waterfall, Choshi Otaki waterfall, Ashura and Kujukushima are unrestricted in any way therefore visitors can see them very close. Such openness creates a feeling of togetherness with nature there. Strangely enough, one may never get tired of watching limpid stream continues to form fine bubbles around the stones in the river.

    Access: 1 hour 45 minutes drive via Tohoku Expressway and Route 103 or 2 hours 10 minutes via Route 282 and 103.