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A Winter Trip to Aomori: Mount Hakkoda & Lake Towada

This is part 2 of 2 of a blog post about a trip to Aomori prefecture in the winter. See part one here: link. Winter in Aomori means lots an lots of snow, during the three days there we visited the Hirosaki Snow Lantern Festival (previous post), Mount Hakkoda, Lake Towada and Mount Hakkoda again! Find out more below…

After clearing the streets of snow, it has to be taken somewhere…

The weather was luckily completely clear on the next day, without any snowfall – yet. Or at least around Hirosaki city.

Driving towards the mountains

As soon as we slowly closed in on the foot of Mount Hakkoda, snow was starting to pile up again. The streets were bordered by huge walls of snow.

Walls of snow, the left one about 2.50m high

However, the snow made for an absolutely beautiful landscape.

The sun, clouds, trees, and snow: tranquil.

When driving lots of snow gets kicked up behind and around the car, but once we stopped it was completely serene.

Weather still looks fine!

While driving towards Mount Hakkoda we still hadn’t seen it yet at all. We didn’t really think about that it might be completely engulfed in clouds.

A favourite car in Japan: the Suzuki Jimmy

The parking lot was packed to the brim with winter-ready cars, we were a stark outlier here.

Renting snow shoes

As the snow was supposed to be really deep and fluffy, we opted to rent snow shoes close to the gondola for 3000jpy/day.

The Mount Hakkoda gondola looked like it just arrived from another world

There was a huge queue for the gondola. Most people were skiers or snowboarders waiting to down Mount Hakkoda on back country routes. Unfortunately, I was there without my board…

Stepping outside
The two back country routes down Mount Hakkoda

After arriving at the top it became immediately clear that it is really, really cold and that the view was: white.

Famous snow monsters of Mount Hakkoda (yes colour fringing becomes obvious with my lens :[)

Mount Hakkoda is famous for its snow monsters in winter. Due to the close proximity to the sea, very humid air engulfs the mountain’s trees and a thick cover freezes around them.

Hiking through the snow monsters

The visibility kept changing from really bad to bad and back again constantly but we never got to see blue skies.

The snow shoes paid off!

We did have a lot of fun however :)

The pillars of the gondola station were frozen over

The gondola station in it self was completely frozen over and became its own “snow monster”.

Huge amounts of snow at the foot of Mount Hakkoda

We went back to our car, hoping it will still start…

Road to Lake Towada

It did and we started our drive to Lake Towada where we were going to stay for the night. At last, the weather cleared up a little bit.

Standard food at the Ryokan

We picked a cheap but very friendly Ryokan out to stay at, with a very warm and forthcoming owner.

Close to Lake Towada itself, a snow festival was going on which we visited for the fireworks. The food there was kind of meh but they had a giant igluu which they transformed into a bar!

Crappy room insulation…

As we enjoy taking pictures, we of course had to get up in time for sunrise even though the weather forecast was cloudy. In the morning the inside of the windows of our room was covered in a thin sheet of ice from the frozen condense water. Insulation in not recent homes in Japan is kinda shoddy…

Sunrise at Lake Towada

As anticipated, the sunrise was not visible at all, but at least we had an early start into the day!

Lake Towada

As we started driving we noticed that the weather cleared up quickly.


Since we didn’t really have big plans for the day yet, we decided to drive towards Mount Hakkoda again.

This time, the peak was actually visible!

Coming close to Mount Hakkoda, the peak was actually visible! Quickly, we decided to take the gondola to the top again.

The snow monsters actually visible!

This time, we actually got to see something, a lot more shades of white :)

View across the mountain range

The wind was strong so the clouds moved fast creating spots of sunshine in the landscape.

Spots of sunlight illuminating the landscape

The snow was as deep as before though and we didn’t rent snow shoes this time around. We realised the day before, that you can rent waterproof rubber boots at the gondola station on the mountain.

Deeeeep snow

As the weekend came to an end, we headed back down Mount Hakkoda and towards Aomori-shi to get on our flight/train back home…

Gondola station still iced up
Way back down

At Aomori-shi, the area around the station was lit up in a funny way by using characters, of course :p

Character lights around Shin-Aomori Station

If you have any questions or a planning a trip to Aomori yourself, let me know in the comments :)

For other hikes in the Tohoku region, see here: http://nimar-blume.de/blog/tag/tohoku/