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Lake Towada - Oirase gorge 2019/1/15 15:17
Hello,
We are planning to visit Oirase Gorge during the first week of March. We have seen that sightseeing boat courses will be closed in March. But what about hiking along the Oirase gorge ?: is it possible to hike, to walk? Do we need specific equipment? Are there restaurants?
We have rent a car, so are there several places to park the car? What are your recommendations to discover this nice Oirase gorge in March?
Thank you
by Helene (guest)  

Re: Lake Towada - Oirase gorge 2019/1/15 22:56
Hi! I visited Lake Towada and Oirase Gorge recently. My experience in late October, is its an easy hike without much, if any elevation change. Because it would be March and it might still be cold, hiking shoes and a hiking stick might be recommended. The only thing is if you exclusively walk the entire trip to the lake, it will take a few hours.

There are no restaurants or bathrooms along the way other than the rest stop at the beginning of the hike. Its best to bring some onigiri, sandwiches, protein bars, and water for food. Also, you might want to purchase a few of the heat pads in case. If you rent a car there are a few parking spaces (some are nothing more than a gravel shoulder) where you can stop and take photos of waterfalls. Once you reach Lake Towada there are a number of shops and restaurants, and a few parking spaces as well.
by Villagemayor rate this post as useful

Re: Lake Towada - Oirase gorge 2019/1/15 23:35
Hi!

Almost everything will be closed. Most of the roads will be closed. You will need snow shoes if you want to hike near the Oirase stream because the path will be covered in snow. The few rest stops with toilets will be closed because again it's covered in snow. Any restaurants near Towadako are likely to be closed because most tourists there will be either visiting with a specific Winter tour or will be staying at one of the few fancy hotels still open and will be eating there.

I found this tour:
https://hubjapan.io/articles/oirase-gorge-snow-hike-in-winter-was-the-...

The pictures from this tour on this website are from when you want to go. I think the Hoshino resort in Towadako area also offers a snow shoe tour. This page also has some information on being there in the Winter.
https://news.gogotohoku.jp/2018/12/21/new-adventure-in-winter-with-ora...

If you plan to do a lot of self driving in March in the Towadako area, know how to drive in snow. Know what you would do if a snow storm comes. I was with a friend in late April on one of the roads that closes from November to late April near Towadako when I got caught in a blizzard. The road had only just opened for the year, but that didn't prevent it from snowing more. Our visibility dropped to only feet in front of the car. It was a bit frightening. The people in the above post had a paid driver who knew how to drive in snow driving them around.

But yes, assume snow and very cold temperatures.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Lake Towada - Oirase gorge 2019/1/16 00:25
Thanks rkold for the clarification!
by Villagemayor rate this post as useful

Re: Lake Towada - Oirase gorge 2019/1/16 00:50
Hi!

No problem. I've been to Towadako twice. Once in late April during a sakura viewing trip (that's the time we got caught in a blizzard, but saw gorgeous sakura in Kakunodate, Hirosaki and Towada City.) My other trip was the much more common October to see the leaves.

It's a beautiful location and the snow shoeing tours in the Winter look great, much like the snow shoeing tours of Kamikochi, but these are definitely places that are going to have actual snow.

If OP has the budget I'm sure the Hoshino resort offers a pretty great Winter activities and the frozen waterfall onsen looks gorgeous or if they have a car they could try staying the slightly more southern Oyu. It wasn't until the blizzard that I actually understood why Japan closes so many roads in Winter.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Lake Towada - Oirase gorge 2019/1/16 01:48
Even though it appears that sakura season may come early this year, that doesn't mean that there won't be snow at elevation. The first week in March is too early for visiting Oirase. I used to drive there all the time in 1987-1989, but I never ventured there during the snow season, even though my car had snow tyres. Sometimes the snow stays until April.
by John B digs Japan rate this post as useful

Re: Lake Towada - Oirase gorge 2019/1/16 08:16
Thank you everyone for your answers, comments and recommendations.
Sure that we will be very cautious about weather, snow ... and we wonft take any risk!
by Helene (guest) rate this post as useful

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