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October 19, 2018 - Tohoku Series: Juniko
This travel report is a continuing series highlighting the various destinations of the Tohoku Region. In this report I traveled to a scenic place called Juniko, located in Aomori Prefecture.
In the last report I talked about the Gono Line and the amazing things to see along the way. One the side trip from the Gono Line is a place called Juniko. Due to seismic activity a few hundred years ago, the upheaval of land created ponds of all shapes and sizes. Sure you might have seen a pond in your lifetime but have you seen a pond where the waters are crystal blue?
From Juniko Station on the Gono Line, take the bus from across the street where it takes up the highlands to Juniko. The bus takes you to a chalet-style building where it includes a cafeteria-style dining area, a store selling omiyage and other souvenirs, and restroom facilities. This is also the area where the parking lots and bus loading area is located.
The majority of the ponds here are large but doesn't look any different from other ponds you might see anywhere. However, if you look closely, you might actually see the remnants of the past seismic events here. Tree stumps located at the bottom of the pond sticks out enough so you can see its remains. Felled trees can still be found in the pond itself.
From Keitobano Pond walk a little further south, then walk up the set of wooden stairs to reveal the feature pond that everyone is here to see, Aioke. From here you can see how photogenic it actually is. The waters have this shimmering bright blue hue and you can almost see the bottom of the pond as well.
It is best to see the pond during the day when there is enough sun to shine into its waters. Also, when going in the Autumn like I did, you will run into the pond with lots of fallen dead leaves. Winter, if accessible, is probably the best time to go for that ultra contrast between the blue and white snow.
Climb the wooden stairs again to reveal a gravel parking lot. Walk through the lot and into another set of trails. This is the start of the Beech Forest. As a resident of Canada its nothing special as we see forests like this all the time. But to know you are in Japan and walking the same type of forest is still amazing.
A fifteen minute walk through the Beech Forest (remember to stay to the right where the trail forks) and then you will see another brilliant pond. This is similar to Aoike Pond where it has a unique coloured water. This pond, 沸壺の池, is not a popular pond to visit (it doesn't even have an English name) but to me it is still special as it has a more blue-grey tone to it.
You could spend an entire day at Juniko but the way the trains run on the Gono Line, you really have a limited amount of time to visit here. A suggestion is to spend the amount of time to catch the bus then the train. That way you can still make it to Aomori or Akita by sundown.
Overall a very recommended place to visit when the weather is good. I would skip this place if the weather is cloudy and rainy.