Photo: Towada Oirase Tourism Organization

A Night With Oirase Gorge's Frozen Waterfall Illumination

A fateful meeting of art and snow

Photo: Towada Oirase Tourism Organization
By Caleb Cello    - 2 min read

As the winter holiday approaches in Japan, the cold crisp of the air is felt while the land is enveloped in a wide stretch of immaculate white. People huddle close to keep each other warm, while some would daringly head toward the mountains and take the opportunity to engage in winter sports like skiing or snowboarding or join in ice sculpting festivals like the annual Sapporo Snow Festival. But if you’re a wandering spirit at heart, then a getaway to the Oirase Gorge Ice Waterfall Tour might be the perfect winter activity for you.

Located in the Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan, it is easily hailed as one of the most beautiful river valleys in Japan. The vivid colors of every shade of green and brown during spring make it alluring—but during winter, in its snow-clad form, it is ethereal and looks like a page ripped from a fairytale book. The Oirase Gorge Icefall Tour, arranged by the Towada Oirase Tourism Organization, will whisk you on a frosty adventure that not only offers a magical experience but safety measures as well. To give you an overview, it is a sponsored bus tour meant to boost tourism in the area while ensuring that no additional Covid-19 cases occur.

Winter Oirase Nature Guided Tour
Winter Oirase Nature Guided Tour (Photo: Towada Oirase Tourism Organization)

A variety of noteworthy rock formations are indicated with signposts along the gorge; Fudo Rock, Byobu Rock, Makado Rock, and Tengu Rock are among them. The splendor of the area is enhanced by a variety of cold rapids and falling waterfalls. This stunning gorge has been classified as a Japanese natural asset and is a popular photo location. Such a view—meaningfully illuminated—is reserved for the eyes of the participants of the tour which makes braving the cold worth it.

Winter Oirase Ice Waterfall Night Tour
Winter Oirase Ice Waterfall Night Tour (Photo: Towada Oirase Tourism Organization)

If you’re sold on the idea of exploring the frozen crystal-clear Oirase, you might want to plan ahead as the number of applicants is limited and is done through reservations. Four days before the boarding date is ideal.

Nothing beats seeing and breathing in the beauty of the world first-hand, so if you’re looking for a sign to visit this beautiful snowscape, this is it!

Getting there

Get off at Hachinohe Station, take exit 5 to reach the bus stop and alight at Towada Art Center.

More info

Find out more about Oirase Stream.

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Caleb Cello

Caleb Cello @cello.caleb

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Kim a month ago
What an incredible event!
Elena Lisina a month ago
Looks fantastic with illumination!