30 reasons to waterfall in love.
Japan’s second-most northern prefecture Aomori is a haven for nature lovers. Along the Oirase River, among the birds chirping and sound of water gushing, you can see nearly 30 different waterfalls — in just one hike.
More fall colors?
The waterfalls come in all shapes and sizes. While the most famous, Chioshi, is a 20-meter-wide waterfall that blocks fish from swimming up the river, there’s also Kumoi, a 25-meter-high beauty that gushes down in a slender fashion. Still, Shiraito Waterfall, whose water flows down in thin threads, resembles white threads of silk, as its Japanese characters suggests. Besides designated waterfalls, the natural meanders of Oirase Stream make beautiful checkpoints as the water hurries downstream.
The Oirase Stream trail starts at Nenoguchi, a small town near Lake Towada, to Yakeyama, a hot spring village to the north. From there you can connect back to Aomori City.
The walk along the stream is an easy and flat path dotted by multiple bus stops in between. While walking the full 14-kilometer takes around 4-5 hours counting on stopping for sightseeing, one could also choose to bike or drive through it on the road parallel to the walkway.
Know before you go
Although Oirase Stream is blessed by a vibrant green in summer, it is most famed by its intricate autumn colors, like at Oirase Gorge in the middle of the hike. Regardless of the season, though, visit this popular national park in early morning (suggested start time: 6 a.m.) to beat the crowd. There are also benches along the stream, so bring a bento with you for a relaxing picnic. Oirase Stream is located in the countryside where shops are a rarity, so go prepared.
For a half-day detox from urban noises, surround yourself with the healing powers of Oirase’s falls.