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Akitakomagatake in Fall Colours

Fall is extra colourful in Tohoku

Akitakomagatake is located at the border of Akita and Iwate Prefectures. It's in the Towada Hachimantai National Park that also straddles both prefectures. It's an area that includes 4 or 5 peaks. All of the peaks are volcanoes that are somewhat dormant. We can see some steam escaping from one of the peaks as well as several lava flows from past eruptions.

The area is accessible from either Akita or Iwate. On this day, we started at a place called Kunimi onsen on the Iwate side. This area is open from May to November each year. They have a small area that allows dogs to bathe in the hot spring. There are several trails around the mountains from beginner level to more advanced levels. On the Akita side, you can take a bus from Alpa Komakusa onsen to the 8th station. It makes the trip much shorter. Many families access the area from that side. Depending on which trails you choose, the distance can be from about 10 kilometers to 20 kilometers if you visit all the peaks. If you start at the 8th station, Akita side, the distance is only about 5 kilometers. Our course was about 13 kilometers. The first part to the tree line is the steepest, after that, it's moderately steep with a few steep areas.

Depending on the weather, the views from the top are amazing. We were lucky to get great weather on the day that we hiked. We could see most of Iwate's mountain ranges and a good part of Akita. On the Akita side, we have a direct view at Lake Tazawa, the deepest lake in Japan. We can also see Lake Tazawa ski area and a part of the town of Senboku.

Each season highlights different aspects of the mountains. Spring has a lot of alpine flowers, Onamedake is said to have the widest variery of wild flowers. Summer has other kinds of flowers and fall has colourful foliage. For the most adventurous, it's possible to hike in winter on clear days. It's better not to go on windy days, the visiblilty and wind chill factor makes it extremely hazardous.

Getting there

To get there from Morioka, take Route 46 west to Akita. About 2-3 kilometers after the rest area Anekko, you'll see a turn off to Kunimi onsen. Take the road to the end, it's 7 kilometers from the main road.

From the Akita side, the easiest way is to take the bus from Tazawako Station. The bus will take you to Alpa Komakusa and form there, you take another bus to the 8th station lodge. From there it's about an hour hike to the Amida pond and another 30 minutes to the other summits.

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