The Oirase River is the only river flowing from Lake Towada. It is one of Japan’s most scenic spots, and is said to have been named “Oirase” because the deeper it goes, the more “rapids” there are.
The Oirase River is approximately 75 km long and flows into the Pacific Ocean near Hachinohe City. The 14 km stretch of this river from the mouth of Lake Towada to the Towada Bridge at Yakeyama is called “Oirase Keiryu” (Oirase Gorge). It is a cultural asset designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and a Natural Monument, and is especially preserved as a special protection area under the Nature Park Law. It is also called the “Waterfall Road” because of the numerous waterfalls scattered along the mountain stream.
The attraction of the Oirase Gorge is not only the change in the flow of water and the waterfalls along the stream, but also the fact that you can walk along the stream with almost no difference in height between the water surface and the view. Therefore, to understand the charm of Oirase Gorge, it is recommended to walk along the stream and enjoy the scenery that changes its expression from season to season.
The delicate mountain stream from Nenokuchi to Yakeyama is beautiful, and you can fully enjoy the scenery of forest and water woven together with all your senses. The pristine nature with its wildflowers, beech trees, and horse chestnut groves attracts people to the area, and no matter how many times they visit, they never get tired of the charm.
The road along the Oirase Gorge was paved in 1903 (Meiji 36), and although it was only a 1.2m wide forest road, this is where the history of tourism to Oirase and Lake Towada began, and in 1920 (Taisho 9), an automobile road was opened to Nenokuchi and buses were operated. As of 2021, construction has begun on the northwest side of the Oirase Gorge to complete the Aonabuyama Bypass. The Aonabujiyama Bypass is expected to eliminate through traffic along the Oirase Gorge, thereby preserving the natural environment along the Oirase Gorge and creating the tranquility that is inherent in a national park.
For more information about Oirase Gorge and Towada City, Aomori Prefecture, please see also