Sunday, November 11, 2007

Juniko, Shirakami, and Anmon Falls

The second week of June we ventured to the west side of the island to visit Juniko (12 lakes). It was our first time to this side of the island, so we weren't real sure of what to expect. The lakes themselves were okay. They were crystal clear, and there were a lot of flowers in bloom.
While wandering through the lakes, we did see an endangered pair of woodpeckers on our hike. They were somewhat camera shy, so no pictures of them. In the afternoon we hiked to the rim of Nippon Canyon (picture below) to get our exercise for the day. After the hike we camped at a campground in the park.
The next day we decided to take a different route home. We ended up driving through a UNESCO world heritage site, which turned out to be the highlight of the trip. Shirakami Forrest is the largest virgin birch tree area in the world. The drive was incredible following the river all the way into the mountains.
We passed numerous waterfalls and incredible scenery. About half way through the drive the road turned from pavement to gravel. Since we had 4-wheel drive we continued. Although it was pretty well maintained, it was a little unnerving driving on the twisting mountain road with sheer drop-offs the whole way.
We took another side road and found this waterfall (about 100 ft tall) and had lunch. It had been raining on and off all afternoon, so we decided to start back. Once we were on the outskirts of the Shirakami area we stumbled upon Anmon Falls.
Anmon Falls is actually a series of three major (#2 is the pic below) and several minor falls on a 3 mile hike. By the time we got to the last waterfall it started down pouring. You really couldn't run, because the trail was quite slick and steep. Needless to say, we were drenched for the rest of the trip home.
We are going to come back to this area to do a backpacking trip next summer, so we can see more of the interior of the Shirakami Forrest. All the pictures of this trip and others are now posted on our shutterfly page: .