Hiking, waterfalls, and tasty lamb. Did somebody say road trip?
Shrouded in the valleys of northern Akita, the town of Fujisato is a gateway to one of Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Shirakami Sanchi. This charming town is famous for its diverse hiking trails, fishing spots, Suffolk lamb, and enchanting waterfalls. It’s the perfect spot to mark on a Tohoku road trip!
Just near the town center, the Shirakami Sanchi World Heritage Conservation Center Fujisato Kan (Map) is a great starting point if you’re considering a day of hiking in Fujisato’s prestigious woods. You can learn more about the forest’s history and ecosystem through maps, pictures, and English descriptions.
Shirakami Sanchi’s ancient forest partly inspired one of Studio Ghibli’s most famous films, Princess Mononoke.
As the largest remaining beech tree forest in East Asia, Shirakami Sanchi was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 after locals protested a planned road that would cut through its woods. Today, much of the forest is protected and inaccessible. Luckily, a few trails in Fujisato wrap around the restricted zone, and any nature lover worth their salt would be remiss to pass them up.
For the anime fans, Shirakami Sanchi’s ancient forest partly inspired one of Studio Ghibli’s most famous films, Princess Mononoke.
Morinoeki farmer’s market
When you get hungry after hiking, drop in at Morinoeki (Map) right next door to Fujisato Kan. It’s a cute farmers market and restaurant where you can buy locally harvested vegetables and handmade wooden crafts. You can also taste Fujisato’s local cuisine, such as lamb don (rice bowl).
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If you really want to get rustic, try catching your own dinner. At the Fujisato tourist information desk, located inside Morinoeki, you can buy fishing permits and find information on local fishing spots and other attractions.
Don’t leave Fujisato, without seeing Choshi Falls (Map). This magical waterfall is hidden away behind the small, 400-year-old Yu no Sawa Shrine. Located near Fujisato Kan and Morinoeki, Choshi Falls only takes about ten minutes on foot to the trailhead, and from there, a quick three-minute flat walk.
Water plunges into a natural, mossy grotto and echoes off the cavernous walls. On sunny days, the light seeps in through the opening above and leaves the water sparkling. Visitors can even go around the basin and view the waterfall from behind. Looking up, sheets of water slide off the rocky shelf 18 meters above your head.