Sitting atop the northernmost portion of Honshu Island is Shimokita peninsula. Popular among tourists thanks to its beach backdrop and fascinating rock formations, the area has been awarded National Park status. Dotted with volcanic peaks and natural hot springs, this coastal pocket of Japan is an ideal sea-soaked getaway.
Wild horses called Kandachime roam the Cape Shiriyazaki section of the national reserve. Majestic and incredibly robust, the Kandachime are able to stand the harsh winter climate of the area and are often spotted lazing about the Shiriyazaki Lighthouse or pasturing in the fields next to the park’s visitor centre.
Said to resemble the shapes of buddhas, the rock formations that make Hotokegaura are definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area. Translated to English, Hotokegaura means ‘Bay of Buddha’. The best way to access Hotokegaura is by taking the 30-minute ride on one of the leisure boats that departing from the “Arusasu” Cultural Centre in Sai Village, which will cost of 1,250 yen. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous there’s the option to access the shore via the hiking trail and through a thick forest starting along Road 338.
Located in the heart of the island of Shimokita is the Osorezan, a cluster of mountains surrounding the basin. Incredibly scenic Osorezan is home to Osorezan Bodai-ji which is said to have been built in 862 and is known as one of Japan’s three major sacred grounds. Legend has it that this is a place where the spirits of the dead gather, and speak via blind shrine maidens called Itako. Thanks in part to its legend and the rock volcano crafted shore and the volcanic gas and hot springs that pour out of it, Osorezan’s northern shore is sometimes referred to as Jigoku, which in English is ’hell’.
On the less spooky side of things is Shimofuro an incredibly cute onsen resort village located about 19km southeast of Oma in northern Shimokita Peninsula. Spend any amount of time here and you’ll soon notice that the air is thick with the aroma of natural hot springs. Given it's a seaside village it goes without saying the local produce in the area is second to none. If you need a recommendation of where to stay, the historical and charming ryokan Maruhon Onsen is worth checking out.
The best way to get around the area, is via bus or car. If you plan on making the visit from Tokyo, catch the Tohoku Shinkansen to Hayabusa and get off at Hachinohe Station. From there catch the local train from Hachinohe to Shimokita Station, all up the trip will take around 4.5 hours and cost 19,000 yen.
Shimokita Peninsula Overview
NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR