Juniko Trail

Matcha

Jan 6, 2017

Because Aomori prefecture is in the northernmost part of Honshu, winters here can be very cold, with heavy snowfall. But you know, that’s the best time to go hiking if you are fit.

Set in the Shirakami mountains – a UNESCO world heritage site, Jūniko Trail is one of the best hiking routes as you can enjoy great views. The virgin beech forest is one of the world’s largest and it makes me feel very small!

From 1 December to 31 March each year, you must have a guide (Awone Shirakami Jūniko) to lead you through the trail. To make it easier to walk through the snow, you should rent the traditional snow shoes for free. Without them, you may find it impossible to get through deep snow! Fun fact: These handmade boots are made with techniques of the past.

Jūniko is actually the name of the 33 lakes in the Shirakami mountains. The snow and beech trees reflected on the still, clear surfaces of the many lakes is breathtaking.

Ask your guide to point out the Blue Lake. No one has figured out why its water is so blue! In summer, the vivid blue water sparkles as it reflects the sun’s rays, and that attracts many hikers. But to me it’s just as beautiful in winter. You have the beauty all to yourself. The stillness is so dreamlike, so zen. If that’s too calm for you, ride a sled down the hillsides or have a snowball fight with your friends.

Your guide will also point out other interesting sights during your 3-hour trek. For example: The larger Wakitsubo Lake, near the end of your trek. It is one of the clearest of the Jūniko lakes. Can you see your reflection in it?

The trains to Jūniko don’t run in winter, so you’ll have to make arrangements to get here. And when you do, I hope you enjoy trekking along the Juniko Trail as much as I did.

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