Winter Magic of Oirase Gorge

16 Feb

Frozen waterfall2 (640x480) Oirase Gorge (Oirase Keiryu/奥入瀬渓流 ) is one of the most beautiful areas in the Tōhoku region, the northeastern portion of Honshu island.  What makes this place special is the changing views of magnificent scenery in each season.

In summer lush green moss and ferns cover the entire gorge.  The trees are so vibrantly green that you can smell the freshness.  In autumn colorful leaves of red, orange, lime, and yellow paint the gorge, attracting many visitors hoping to get the glimpse of its famous autumn foliage.

In winter Oirase gorge and the surrounding area are blanketed in snow and ice.  So I was a bit nervous about driving up there with my small car.  But last weekend I finally packed my snowshoe, wore my warmest jacket, and hit the road.  To my surprise the road condition wasn’t too bad, and my car made it there with no problem.  Upon entering the gorge the road narrowed and the snow covered trees on both sides arched toward the center, creating an illusion of driving through a snow tunnel.

Oirase gorge in Winter (640x360)

After driving for a few miles I arrived at “Kumoi no taki,” one of many waterfalls in the area.   It was partially frozen, but the water was still running down with great speed and force.  Once the water reached the ground it cut through the snow, causing the snow-covered rocks to look like big marshmallows.   Remembering how green and alive the waterfall was in summer, I couldn’t decide which was more beautiful.

Kumo no taki in summer

Kumoi no taki in summer

Kumo no taki in winter

Kumoi no taki in winter

mashmallow 2 (640x480)

Oirase RIver

On the way out I found massive ice sheets along the gorge.  Small waterfalls were completely frozen, forming light blue colored ice.

ice 2 (359x640) P1020309 (360x640)Oirase Gorge has something different to offer in each season: pleasant summer hikes along the pristine river, incredible beauty of autumn leaves, and winter snow with frozen waterfalls.  There is one season during which I have not visited there – spring.  Cherry blossoms will bloom in early May, which will certainly attract many visitors from all over the country.  While I look forward to going back there in spring, I want to enjoy the best part of winter in Oirase Gorge a little longer – its quietness.  Walking along the waterfall, all I could hear was the sound of running water, the wind, and my footsteps.

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5 Responses to “Winter Magic of Oirase Gorge”

  1. hollywoodsam February 17, 2014 at 7:10 am #

    一年中素晴らしいと思います。 たぶんゆきが一番好きです。

    • Yumi February 18, 2014 at 9:48 am #


  2. lmjapan February 17, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    Wow, so beautiful. I hope to sightsee through the northern part of the Tohoku region someday. The last time we were in Japan I really wanted to stop in Aomori on the way to Sendai from Hakodate but we ran out of time. I really want to devote a whole trip to exploring this part of Japan.

    • Yumi February 18, 2014 at 9:53 am #

      I hope you’ll get to visit the Tohoku region someday. Sendai is the biggest city in the region, and the rest is very remote. I think you’ll enjoy Aomori, especially if you like onsen (hot spring)!

  3. TonyJ2 July 25, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    Hello Yumi. Early May 2016 I am hoping to come back to Japan and spend a bit of time in Aomori. We are thinking of staying at Hirosaki. Can we take a bus from Hirsaki to Oirase or should be access the area from somewhere else?

    If you were showing someone around your favourite spots in Aomori in one day – what would you do!

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