Kari Grohn's Home Page - Japan - Hakkoda




Mt Hakkoda, Aomori

Mt Hakkoda is dotted with many marshes and swamps as well as mountain ranges with virgin forests, and scores of Japanese beech, wing nut and maple trees. Scenery ranges from a vast green highland covered by grass to a moor where various flowers blossom from spring to autumn. Around the area, numerous hot spring resorts can be found in the calm forests.



























Sukayu Onsen, Aomori

The reward after long trekking awaits me at the foot of the Mt Hakkoda – Sukayu Onsen. The Sukayu spa is my favourite place. It is famous for a bath called Senninburo (a thousand people’s bath). Three basketball courts can fit into this main bath. Both of the two baths are made from Japanese cypress. The water is strongly acidic (Sukayu means acid in Japanese) and milky white.

The spa has a history of about 300 years. It was the first to be designated a national recuperative spa. Mixed bathing (konyoku) is natural in this indoor hot spring. Young and old of both sexes relax together to enjoy its medical benefits. Most people go into the hottest bath first, and after take the cooler one and shower themselves under one of the 'waterfalls'. Then they get back into the hottest one, and start over again. The water is fairly hot. The bath chamber is enveloped in steam and redolent with the smell of sulphur. The onsen and lobby has the feel of the 50’s; this is a genuine experience. However, it is unfortunate that Sukayu doesn't have any rotenburo (outdoor bath).

Sukayu Onsen has also been called a deer spa due to a legend about a deer, which cured its wounds with this hot spring. During the Edo period people visited Sukayu when the snow became hard. They built huts thatched and walled with rushes. Then people went out to take open-air bathes gushed out of the snow, in cycles first a hot spa, second a cold spa, then a shiburoku spa mixed with 60% cold water and 40% hot water, and concluded with the deer spa. Assuming that a cycle took three days, three cycles in nine days was to be said enough for curing a disease. In order to protect skin against getting rough or dry from wind, snow and direct sunshine, people wore white underwear. 










Oirase River, Aomori

Passing through a snow tunnel I saw the first glimpse of Oirase River, the beauty of early spring. The bubbling stream twists and winds through one of the most beautiful woodlands in Japan. The river flows over mossy rocks and tree roots, cascades down miniature waterfalls and rapids, and rests in clear, deep pools. Also worth seeing are the various waterfalls along Oirase. All of them have different appearances; the 25-metre-high Kumoinotaki; Choshi Otaki with its big flow of water; Tamasudarenotaki, where the water rolls down in the shape of balls; and Shiraitonotaki (White Thread Fall). Oirase flows from Lake Towada































Legend of Hachinotaro & Tatsuko

Long, long ago a young man named Hachinotaro lived in a small village. One day he went to work with two friends at Lake Towada. For lunch, he caught three fish in Oirase River and grilled them and ate one, but he could not resist the urge to eat the others too, without giving any to his friends. 

At the same time, an itinerant monk called Nansobo arrived at the lake after Buddha told him to stop and settle wherever the straps on his sandals broke. His sandals wore out along the shore. The priest and the snake then became locked in a bitter fight that lasted for seven days and nights. Eventually defeated, Hachinotaro left Lake Towada and, after a painful journey, he arrived at the seacoast where he created another lake, called Hachirogata. 

Some distance away, a lovely young woman named Tatsuko lived near Lake Tazawa. After praying for eternal beauty before the Goddess of Mercy, she was told to become a dragon and live in the lake. Hachinotaro heard about the beautiful Tatsuko and went to visit her. Eventually the two married but, to protect the two lakes, Hachinotaro would visit Tatsuko's Lake Tazawa in the winter and return to Hachirogata in the spring.