Goshikinuma (Five Colored Ponds)
A hike dotted with beauty, and one of the most picturesque rowboat trips you'll ever find.
The Goshikinuma Nature Trail deep in Fukushima Prefecture promises hikers views of rusty red, bright green, and turquoise ponds and lakes. You might already be skeptical, but Goshikinuma, or the Five Colored Ponds as they’re called in English, is a bewildering surprise.
This natural wonder located in the Bandai-Asahi National Park, is one part romantic day trip and one part quintessential Japanese tourist spot. While natural wonders like this are found in other parts of Japan, such as Hokkaido’s Blue Pond and Oita’s Hells of Beppu, neither of these has such convenient access from Tokyo as Goshikinuma. It’s a striking wonder found in Fukushima’s vast wilderness and is worth a visit in any season.
Five Colored Ponds
Starting on the eastern side, you’ll find Bishamon-numa, a large colorful lake with multi-colored koi fish. Pay a small fee and rent a rowboat to experience the lake close up. Beyond, lies a hiking path to other ponds such as Aka-numa, famous for its vibrant red, iron-rich plants, and the multi-colored Midoro-numa. There is also Tatsu-numa, which changes from deep greens in the winter to vibrant blues in spring, and Benten-numa. It mixes both green and blue for a mesmerizing turquoise hue.
You’ll spend more than a few minutes at each spot taking photos and basking in sheer bewilderment.
More than a hike
Goshikinuma was formed in 1887, when Mount Bandai erupted, generating a cascade that blocked a river and created ponds and lakes. It also trapped volcanic elements and minerals, which gave the ponds surreal colors. Moreover, the colors can change day-to-day or throughout the year.
The trail from pond to pond will occasionally lead hikers over short bridges and through swampy mud. The path is four kilometers long, and on each end are visitor centers with parking available. The visitor centers offer souvenirs, restaurants, and signature Goshikinuma soft-serve ice cream. Like the ponds that inspire it, the ice cream is colorful but has a salty and fruity taste.
Lastly, nearby is the Royal Urabandai Hotel. It’s a beautiful resort offering both Japanese and Western-style rooms. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, you can use its onsen facility. It has indoor and outdoor baths, which are the perfect way to cap off a hike.
Interested in hiking more nature in Japan? Check out our hiking section.