Shirakami-Sanchi covers both Aomori and Akita prefectures. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the unique flora and fauna of Japan.
The wild forest covers 1,300 square kilometers and was one of the first sites on the World Heritage List for Japan. Inside the forest, visitors can see the final virgin forest of Siebold’s beech trees that once covered most of the Tohoku region. There are also over 80 species of birds, along with Japanese black bears, serow, and macaques.
Being a virgin forest, the woods remain largely undisturbed and therefore there are not many paths or trails leading into the forest. Marked trails leave from towns surrounding the forest and provide the best vantage to enter the shallow forest edges. Anmon Falls or Juni-ko (twelve lakes) are especially popular destinations for hikers willing to make the trek. Although these trails being flat and paved they do become steep and narrow and are not recommended for those without proper footwear.
Do take note, that special permission from Forest Management is necessary in order to enter the heart of Shirakami-Sanchi. Shirakami-dake, the highest peak in Shirakami-Sanchi is not a part of the World Heritage Site and so permission is not necessary to climb the mountain. A toilet and shelter facilities can be found at the summit.
This three-tiered waterfall is along a three-hour hike into Shirakami-Sanchi. It is located in Aomori Prefecture.
This group of lakes, called Juni-ko, are all a stunning sight and on clear days, visitors can see straight to the bottom of the lakes.
Hiking up to the peak of Shirakami-Dake requires no special permission from the Forest Management and proves to be an invigorating experience.
As beech trees are not conducive to shiitake mushroom harvesting or building materials, the trees in this area have largely been left alone.
Serow (kamoshika) are common to Shirakami-Sanchi. Along with Japanese black bears and macaques. It in important to exercise caution if you encounter any wild animals.
The best access point for your travels to Shirakami-Sanchi will be to begin at Hirosaki Station and use a rental car to gain access to the areas you wish to visit. This is due to the large size of the forest and the lack of public transportation in the area.
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