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A visit to Akita Prefecture

Akita Prefecture

The hidden charms of Akita Prefecture in the Tohoku region.

Last month The Hidden Japan team crossed over the border of Yamagata Prefecture into the southernmost part of Akita Prefecture. Here we visited the Yuzawa Geopark, one of the largest geoparks in the Tohoku Region and one with unique geological features that cannot be found anywhere else in Japan.

Our first visit was to Kawarage Jigoku (Kawarage Hell).

Here the lush green forests of this geopark give way to a barren white desert where nothing is able to grow.

The reasons for this is the large amounts of sulfur gas that is emitted from all over this specific part of the mountain. This gas has bleached the rocks white and made it an inhospitable habitat for most forms of life.

This trail is safe to walk, but visitors need to stay on the trails here and not venture to close to these vents. This gas can be harmful if too much is inhaled. During our visit, the trail leading up to one of the peaks was closed due this massive yellow sulfur vent opening up recently.

This barren white landscape is extremely unique in Japan and offers a beautiful pure white landscape for hikers to enjoy.

I also found the abrupt transition from barren white rocks to lush green forests to be a very interesting sight to see and photograph.

Making our way down towards the bottom of this mountain and into the ravine below, we began to see areas where the forest has begun to reclaim part of this land.

But the most interesting part of this was that the rivers here were hot! You can feel the heat rising up from the rivers as you crossed the bridges.

Making our way further down the ravine, we came upon the entrance to the forest here and walked down to our primary destination for the day.

At the bottom of this ravine we came across a truly unique geological feature here in Japan, a hot spring waterfall!

The water here sprays out of the rock face at a scaldingly hot temperature. This water would normally be far too hot to enter, but the height of this waterfall gives the water time to cool down enough to be a perfect temperature at the bottom.

Here pools of water act as natural rock baths, and you can also stand right under the warm waterfall!

There is even a small hut next to this waterfall that guests can use to change into swimming suits. We would recommend this as the hike down here takes about an hour and a half. You will certainly want to come here in proper hiking clothes.

After a day out in the Yuzawa Geopark, we returned to Yuzawa City where we attended the National Udon Expo which featured famous udon varieties from across Japan!

We greatly enjoyed out visit to Yuzawa City and now have great interest in visiting the Yuzawa Geopark again to see more of what this beautiful region has to offer. 

Picture of Derek Yamashita

Derek Yamashita

The Hidden Japan Creative Director. Following his passion to connect with his roots as a Japanese American, Derek started a life in Japan after college living in the deep countryside of Yamagata Prefecture. Falling in love with the trails, cycling courses, fishing and all that the countryside had to offer, Derek co-founded a travel company called The Hidden Japan in 2018. The Hidden Japan focuses on promoting the deeper sides of Japan beyond the big cities by working closely with rural communities to offer order-made boutique tours letting travelers experience Japan alongside the local people.


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