A mountainous zone registered as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site
Shirakami-Sanchi, a mountainous area 1000 meters in altitude which spans from southwestern Aomori Prefecture to northwestern Akita Prefecture, was registered in 1993 as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site for its valuable region of primeval Japanese beech forest which has covered northern Japan’s hills and mountains from 8000 to 12000 years ago. As has been explained as a reason for its registration (“The world-class scale and distribution of a virgin natural Japanese beech forest that has been barely touched by Man”), Mother Nature there has been left untouched and the area has been an example of a natural museum with many precious flora and fauna inhabiting the sanctuary continuing to be hospitably protected.
Trekking through the ancient primeval forest
The entirety of the wide area is a natural treasure box with a precious heritage, so to know its true colors, you have to officially apply to enter the area to test your climbing prowess and to enter the core region. However, a trekking course for average tourists is available whose charms can be fully enjoyed. A regular traveler can trek without needing permission along areas such as Anmon-no-Taki consisting of 3 waterfalls, Juni Lake which was formed from a group of 33 large and small lakes, and Shirakami-dake which has a mountain-climbing path. You can get a full appreciation of Mother Nature through the primeval Japanese beech forest, the mysterious azure wetlands and the dynamic waterfalls born from the difference in elevation of the deep valley.
At the Shirakami-Sanchi Visitor Center, models and large-screen videos explaining the area’s nature and ecosystem introduce its attractiveness. There are also pamphlets in English for foreign visitors, and information can be collected on matters such as the trekking course. In the interests of safety, it is recommended to wear the appropriate clothing and shoes for trekking for regular travelers going into the allowed zones. Please be aware that the region is closed during winter between late November and late April.