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October 21, 2018 - Tohoku Series: Mt. Hakkoda (八甲田山)
This travel report is a continuing series highlighting the various destinations of the Tohoku Region. In this report embark on a day trip to Mt. Hakkoda.
As part of my visit around Aomori, I wanted to visit Mt. Hakkoda (1,584 metres) because it is surprisingly easy to hike and explore. There is a ski resort and ropeway that takes you to one of the lower summits of the mountain. Note the photos taken were in late-October 2018 so the colours of the trees reflect the time of the year.
The journey starts at Aomori Station's bus terminal where you board the JR Tohoku Bus (the bus stop is right in front of the terminal). From Aomori the trip takes about an hour to the ropeway station. Once there, you can take the ropeway all the way to the summit station.
While in the ropeway car, you can see the changing colours of the forest down below. Due to the changing elevations you go from mostly deciduous to most coniferous closer to the summit.
Once you are at the summit station you can definitely feel a chill in the air but the air is much more fresh.
At the summit station there are a number of lookout points which gives you a spectacular view of the lands down below, including an uninterrupted view of Aomori. From such a height and distance the city looks so incredibly tiny.
Unlike Mt. Fuji which has a single cone and summit, Mt. Hakkoda includes multiple cones and numerous summits. The collection of these cones make up Mt. Hakkoda. Due to the size of the mountain, I was only able to explore just one of several cones, Tamoyachidake (田茂萢岳).
The volcano is also unique as it has an undulating landscape between these cones giving hikes a wide variety of things to explore and a vast area to hike around. For example you might come across a flat pasture area but is located on a mountain. Or you might come across a small wetland such as the photo below. I even saw hikers in the far distance hiking up other cones which seemed way more challenging.
Due to the height of Mt. Hakkoda you can see other landscape features located hundreds of kilometres away. For example, another famous mountain is Mt. Iwake and is pictured below.
There are many opportunities for some incredible photography in Mt Hakkoda, from pure landscape photography, or a combination of landscape and "street" photography such as the ropeway below.
Once you are done with the hike, head back down to the base station where there is a cafeteria-style restaurant where you can warm up with some hot noodle bowl. Here I had the soba with shrimp tempura.
Overall, Mt. Hakkoda is a very accessible mountain to visit only an hour from Aomori. There are a few hotels at the other side of the mountain where you can soak in one of the few remaining co-ed onsen baths in Japan. A perfect location for someone who loves hiking, mountaineering, and enjoys the natural scenery.