Shirakami Sanchi, World Heritage Site 白神山地

Fukaura, Aomori

summer 2018,

Michi-no-eki Tsuruta proves to be very hot in the early morning sunshine and not a scrap of parking in the shade. Our plan is to head for the Nihonkai (Japan Sea) via Shirakami Sanchi. The road we want to take, we discover, is 50km. of dirt track so we find an alternative.

Aqua Green Village Anmon in Shirakami Sanchi

First we skirt around Mt. Iwaki, sharp and clear against a cloudless, blue sky. Just one or two small clouds clinging to the middle reaches of the mountain. At Aqua Green Village Anmon we stop to take a walk in the Beech woods. This place, Anmon, is the starting point of numerous trekking courses. Some of which are very heavy duty and there are boots and other gear for hire, guides for example, at the visitor centre. This is a Unesco Heritage site as the Beech forest is pristine.

Shirakami Beechwoods

Shirakami Beechwoods

Our short walk is not challenging and no guide is required. At this altitude and in deep Beech forest we imagined it would be cool under the trees even on a hot day but it is anything but. It is beautiful but very hot and steamy, a paradise for mosquitoes.

Shirakami Beechwoods

Walking trail Shirakawa Beechwoods

Back on the road we wind along almost deserted roads, over mountains, through forest and then mostly orchards until we hit the Nihonkai. D. wants to make Furofushi Onsen but we arrive at 3.25 for a 3.30pm entrance deadline so we give that up and drive the 2km to Wespa Tsubakiyama.

WeSPa Tsubakiyama

This is a good place ruined by Disney architecture. A few years ago, we stayed at this place on a December local train trip. On that occasion we were the only guests having breakfast in a dining room for a hundred. Today we only drop in for a bath and it is a bath I recommend. The architecture is over the top but the bath well equipped and has a wonderful prospect. Huge windows overlook the rocky Japan Sea coast. Today is hot so the windows have been slid back and the bath is a rotenburo (open air bath). I have used this bath before but that was on a snowy December night and the view was lost. This time there was the unwelcome addition of horse flies (Abu).

*Unfortunately, this place closed in October 2020, after 25 years.

michi-no-eki Fukaura

From Wespa we drive back up the coast to spend the night at michi-no-eki Fukaura Ika or squid is the main focus of this road station the rocky sea views promise spectacular sunsets.

Fukaura beach in Aomori

Rocky Beach at Fukaura RS

It is also very windy. We sit on the small beach to wait for what appears to be a phenomenal sunset in the making but it fails to deliver.

sunset at Fukaura

Sunset at Fukaura RS

The temperature drops rapidly as the sun disappears and the wind holds sway.

*michi-no-eki Fukaura ; elevation 5m.


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