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The Symbiotic Forest, World Natural Heritage Site Shirakami Sanchi

Shirakami Sanchi, the Forest of Gods West Beach Gourmet and Hot Spring Travels

The Primeval Forest where Life Makes a Circle
The first world heritage designation in Japan


The Shirakami Sanchi is thought to be the forests of gods. The mountainous area stretches over 130,000 hectares (501 square miles) across Aomori and Akita prefecture. Shirakami Sanchi was designated as the first world heritage natural site in Japan in 1993 for its virgin forest of beech trees remaining untouched by humans with a highly valuable ecosystem.

mother tree

Sun light shines through the dense forest which is the home to beech, Mongolian oak, and Japanese wing nut trees to name a few of the many variety of plants and trees found in the forest. Walking through a beech forest is highly invigorating due to this warm natural light. The gentle light which showers over visitors possesses a healing power.

The ground of this forest features a deep humus layer created from the fallen leaves. This layer functions as a natural dam for the forest as it acts like a sponge to keep rain water in the soil. The beech forest has been known as a place where one does not need to take a water bottle because of the clean fresh spring water flowing out of the ground.

The rare plants and animals of Shirakami Sanchi include Aomori Mantenma, the special natural monument Nihon Kamoshika, and national natural monuments black woodpecker and golden eagles.

Cooperation between People and Nature
The History of Cohabitation

The inhabitants of the Shirakami area include traditional hunters who have benefited from the forest preserve and aim to continue protecting it. With a saying “a bag of beech nuts is worth its weight in gold,” the beech forest has provided people with mountain vegetables and mushrooms, fire wood, and fresh fish. It is the water source of all agriculture and enriches the lands and farms. People in the old days knew that the forest’s rich natural environment offers a treasure no less in value than gold.

The value of Shirakami Sanchi is not only preservation of the primeval beech forest, but also the long history in which people and nature co-existed, gaining knowledge and developing their culture.

Shirokami of forest junket road

The Shirakami Forest Forest Walking Trail

Anmon Waterfalls and the Mother Tree
Visiting the Popular Spots in the World Heritage site

Shirakami trekking

In 2013, Shirakami Sanchi celebrated its 20th anniversary since becoming a World Heritage Site. Trekking courses are available in Nishimeya village, Fukaura Iwasaki area, and Ajigasawa town. Guides are also available. Visitors can plan their trip with great flexibility to match one’s physical strength or external conditions such as time and weather. It is a great opportunity for people to experience the forest and take in its atmosphere.

Along Anmon River, the trekking paths lead hikers and trekkers to three magnificent waterfalls. On the way, visitors can see the 400-year old Mother Tree and gives any onlooker the feel of the forest’s living energy with its impressive appearance. The Kurokuma waterfall is one of the largest in Aomori with a height of 85 meters (278 feet) and 15 meters wide (49 feet). It is easily accessible via the trails.

Juniko is a collective name for 33 lakes and ponds scattered across the massive beech forest. The Aoike is especially popular for its cobalt blue color.

JR Gono Line, Running alongside the Coastal Line
Enjoy Excellent Sights from the Train

Gonō Line

JR Gono Line connects Akita and Hirosaki in Aomori, and runs along the coastal line of the Sea of Japan with the Shirakami Sanchi on its background. The Resort Shirakami train features large windows and luxurious reclining seat which becomes exclusive viewing seats. The sight that can be seen from the train is absolutely breath taking. There are live Tsugaru shamisen performances as well as event tour for guests to enjoy the local cuisine and experience the area.

Luxury Delicacies, Flounder and Tuna
Local Gourmet that enjoys Shirakami’s Blessing

Tuna steak bowl

The seafood caught on the west coast of Tsugaru enjoy a variety of luxurious delicacy as it benefits from the fresh water that flows from the spring into the Sea of Japan. Some of the local dishes include the Ajigasawa Flounder Bowl, using the best quality flounder that can be caught all year round, and the Fukaura Tuna Steak Bowl, which uses the Fukaura tuna lavishly. The area also enjoys rare delicacies such as the mysterious fish Ito and the rare golden ayu, both highly valued local gourmet.

Enjoy an Onsen and Become One with the Sea
The Magnificent Sunset

Hot spring dyed in sunset colors

The west coast of Tsugaru features excellent hot springs and magnificent geographical features overlooking the Sea of Japan. The Koganezaki Furofushi Onsen is well known even among the many ocean front outdoor baths, and treat visitors with an immersive experience right on the coast line. The view of the sunset from summer to fall is considered godly and will amaze any visitor.

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