Aomori’s Natural Highlights: The Marshes of the Hakkōda Range
The Natural Bounty of the Hakkōda Mountains
The Hakkōda Mountains, also referred to as Hakkōdasan, comprise a range of volcanic mountains within the Nasu volcanic belt. While the famous 1977 film Hakkōdasan (Mount Hakkōda), depicting the tragic deaths of Imperial Japanese army soldiers on a training trek in the snow, has led many to think there is just one Mount Hakkōda, the name actually encompasses a whole mountain range. Each of the peaks have distinct sweeping skirts, allowing for numerous rivers whose upper reaches offer lovely gorges and falls. There are no historical records of eruptions here, but fumarole scars and hot springs abound, and hot waters bubble to this day in the Jigokunuma Pond. The Hakkōda volcanoes are monitored constantly by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The Hakkōda slopes are covered in beech forests that give way at an altitude of 1,000 meters or so by evergreen coniferous trees, such as the Aomori todomatsu (Maries’ fir; Abies mariesii). Above 1,400 meters is an alpine zone dominated by haimatsu (Japanese stone pine; Pinus pumila) mixed with nanakamado (Japanese rowan; sorbus commixta), miyama hannoki (montane alder; Alnus maximowiczii), and other low trees. Marshy areas teeming with a wonderful diversity of marsh plants are to be found throughout the range.
Access: From JR Aomori Station take JR Bus No. 11 bound for Lake Towada. Disembark at Ropeway-eki-mae (about 1 hour).
(Banner photo: Autumn foliage on the Hakkōda Mountains. Information courtesy of the Aomori Prefectural Government’s Aptinet Aomori Sightseeing Guide.)