Creating a new base of exchange and interchange
Blessed with the richness of Mt. Iwate, Hachimantai, and Appi Kogen
Yakehashiri Lava Flow (Mt. Iwate)
Mt. Iwate is the prefecture's highest peak. This 2038-meter mountain is a composite somma volcano with two outer craters. From the Hachimantai City side, the spring snowmelt carves the shape of a soaring eagle near the mountaintop. From Morioka, the right side of the mountain looks like Mt. Fuji. But whether people saw a sharp-eyed predator or a "half-Fuji," they have long recognized Iwate as a sacred mountain. Hachimantai City's elementary schols are working to preserve the sacred Iwatesan Shrine Yamabushi Kagura dance that is part of that tradition.
In 1719, Mt. Iwate erupted, spilling massive quantities of lava down its north side. This molten rock quickly cooled and hardened into the Yakehashiri Lava Flow that remains there virtually unchanged even today. The lava field is nearly 4 kilometers long and 1.5 across, and was named a Special Natural Monument by the Japanese government in 1952.
Local author and scientist Miyazawa Kenji was a great fan of moutain climbing, and came here frequently. He wrote a poem called Y?ganry?("Lava flow"), which was made into a plaque on the northeast end of Yakehashiri in 1981.
»The four seasons
There are plenty of places to enjoy year-round in the vicinity of Yakehashiri. The most convenient base of operations is the Yakehashiri International Relations Village, located at the entrance to the lava field. There is an astronomical observatory, snowmobiling, auto-camping and bungalows, and a hot spring (Yakehashiri no Yu) that opened in July 1999. After soaking in the main bath and enjoying a spectacular view of Mt. Iwate, relax in the lounge or grab a drink and something to eat at the cafeteria. The adjoining Yakehashiri Hall is used for wedding receptions and concerts.
During the warmer months, you can even golf nearby at the Nambu Fuji Country Club.
Towada-Hachimantai National Park
Towada-Hachimantai National Park, which includes Hachimantai and the surrounding area, was established in 1956, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the community and strengthened administrative support for tourism headed by the Iwate prefectural assembly.
The three most prominent mountains in the 40,489-hectare park are Hachimantai, Mt. Iwate, and Mt. Akita-Komagatake. The lands around their peaks are afforded special protection under Japan's Natural Parks Law. For example, it is strictly forbidden to harvest or damage in any way the rare alpine flora found on these mountaintops.
The 1970 completion of the Aspite Line and the 1993 opening of the Hachimantai Jukai Line, the incredible natural riches of Hachimantai have become easily accessible to the general public. These roads spurred the improvement of the surrounding road network, prompting swift development of hotels and inns in the area, and in turn attracting droves of tourists.
Hachimantai City, formed with the merger of Nishine, Matsuo, and Ashiro, is located north of the prefectural capital, Morioka. To the west lie Semboku and Kazuno in Akita, to the north is the Aomori town of Takko. Our city is truly the center of northern Tohoku (Aomori, Akita, and Iwate). But this is more than just a problem of geography: two expressways, national roads, and rail lines all run through Hachimantai City, making this a central node in the network of transportation and exchange in northern Tohoku.
Hachimantai, the 1613-meter mountain from which our city gets its name, is the chief peak in the city's western range. These majestic mountains are part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. Their virgin forests include birch (Betula ermanii) and Marie's firs (Abies mariesii Masters). The entire area has the unique beauty and appeal of a volcanic range, including fabulous scenery and a plethora of hot springs.
Hachimantai City is the perfect base camp for your explorations of the Hachimantai area.
»A top-quality resort
The twin peaks of Nishimoriyama (1313 meters) and Maemoriyama (1304 meters) rise up in the center of Hachimantai City. The north-facing highland area extending from about 700 meters above sea level to the mountains' connecting ridegline is known as Appi Kogen. Birch, beech, oak, and larch trees are found in the lower forests, but at higher elevations these trees give way to forests of firs, hemlocks, and beech. In the wetlands and marsh areas you can find skunk cabbage, cottonsedge, and buckbean, while the plateau is home to Japanese azaleas and other alpine flowers.
Summers remain refreshingly cool at Appi, drawing hikers from all around to enjoy the marvels of nature. Winter attracts skiers and snowboarders en masse to enjoy some of Japan's best powder.
Until the merger, the Appi Kogen area was actually straddling Ashiro and Matsuo, and "Appi Kogen" was the name of the resort but not of its location. With the birth of Hachimantai City, the area was officially renamed Appi Kogen, which should increase name recognition and spur even more tourism.