Explore the Shirakami-Sanchi Mountain Range, a UNECSO World Nature Heritage Site | HIKES IN JAPAN

Explore the Shirakami-Sanchi Mountain Range, a UNECSO World Nature Heritage Site

Discover a mystical lake in a mountain setting swathed in old-growth beech tree forests.
  • Duration
    2Days / 13.5Hours
    Highest Point
    Elevation Gain
  • Skill Level
    Fitness Level
    Gear Level
Shirakami-Sanchi (Shirakami mountain range) spans the border of Aomori and Akita prefectures in the Tohoku Region of Japan. The area was registered as a Japan’s first UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 1993 in recognition of the scale of the virgin old-growth beech forest, exceptional even by global standards. This route introduced here begins with an area separate from the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. On the first day, you will hike the Okuzure Route with a view of the Lake Juniko (literally, “twelve lakes”) area’s mystical lake setting. Then on the second day, you will hike to the top of Mt. Shirakami (Shirakami-dake) which overlooks the central area of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.

From the Okujuniko Chushajo bus stop, walk along the paved road while admiring the Ketobano-ike Pond to your left. In about 10 minutes, you’ll arrive at Ao-ike Pond. Although small, this pond has beautiful blue water.

From Ao-ike Pond, hike up a steep slope through a valley surrounded by broad-leaved trees. After about an hour, the path changes to a fairly level trail with many large boulders around it. Continue on for another 50 minutes to reach Okuzure. Okuzure is at the edge of a spot where a segment of the west rock wall collapsed. It boasts gorgeous views of the Lake Juniko area. Retrace the same route to complete the return leg of your hike.

Start the second day of the trek by taking the Gono Line from Juniko station to the Shirakami Tozan-guchi station (approx. 5 minutes). From Shirakami Tozan-guchi station, walk along the forest road for about 45 minutes to the parking lot at the trailhead. Then go up the stairs to the mountain hut above. Traverse the path through the old-growth beech forest and you will reach Futamata fork within about an hour of hiking from the trailhead.

Continue on for another 40 minutes to reach a place where you can refill your water. From here, hike up a steep gradient for about 50 minutes to reach Mateyama fork, then head to eastward following the gentle ridgeline. Continue hiking along the main ridge for two hours until you arrive at Omine fork, then hike southwards for another 15 minutes to Mt. Shirakami’s peak.

Retrace your route back to the starting point to complete the return leg of your hike.

Other Info

The lakes that you can see from Okuzure are named Juniko, which literally means “12 Lakes.” In actuality, there are 33 lakes to be found within the old-growth beech forest. You can also enjoy hiking throughout this area.

High Season:June to October


In order to preserve the environment of this World Nature Heritage Site, practices such as picking plants, bringing pets with you, and disposing of trash are forbidden within the Shirakami-Sanchi area. Additionally, you are asked to conclude any visits to the toilet prior to embarking on your hike. If you absolutely must relieve yourself mid-hike, trail etiquette dictates that you dig a hole and bury any waste rather than leaving it in the open. Please respect and follow these hiking rules.

Route Map

Elevation Map

Height (m)
Horizontal Distance (km)


2Days / 13.5Hours
Highest Point
1235m(Mt. Shirakami)
Elevation Gain
Horizontal Distance
Skill Level
Fitness Level
Gear Level

On the Trail


Shirakamidake-sancho-hinan-goya (an unmanned shelter)


Morino-Bussankan Kyororo


Aone Shirakami Juniko Aoneno-yu




The route introduced here is located in Aomori prefecture in the Tohoku Region of Japan. From Tokyo station, take the Akita Shinkansen to Akita station (approx. 4 hours). From Akita station, take the Ou Main Line to Higashi-Noshiro station (approx. an hour), then transfer to the Gono Line and travel to Juniko station (approx. an hour and 15 minutes).
From Juniko station, take a Konan Bus Lines route bus to the Okujuniko Chushajo bus stop (approx. 15 minutes).



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