Through woods in Aomori -
From Hakkoda to Towada :
Mt. Hakkoda in the winter and Soft rime
(Aomori city, Aomori, Japan)

Soft rime was an art.

The highlands of Mt. Hakkoda is in a distance of 10 minutes by ropeway after about 60 minutes transfer by bus from Aomori station to Hakkoda Ropeway Station.

The altitude difference between the Mountain Foot station (Hakkoda Ropeway Sanroku-eki) of the ropeway with a bus stop and the Mountain Park station (Sancho Koen-eki) on the highlands is 650 meters for 2.5 kilometers in distance. It is no big altitude difference. However, on the mountain foot, beech woods that dropped the leaves exposed brown trunks in deep snow, meanwhile, as the ropeway was approaching to the highlands, the white soft rimes of Aomori spruce tree appeared and it was the world of a soft rime outside the Mountain Park station.

The Mountain Park station is located at 1320 meters above the sea level. It is not very high, but the dramatic change showed the severe climate of this area that was equivalent to the 3000 meters class mountain in the central area of Honshu island in Japan.

Mt. Hakkoda is a well-known place for Japanese people in the march of army training in the snow in which 199 soldiers of 210 died and its film adaptation "Mt. Hakkoda" which made a big hit in 1977. Therefore, even if it was developed as a ski resort and became famous for aspirin snow, I felt a little uneasy for this place to visit in the winter, so I decided to join in a snowshoe tour hosted by the ski park.

There were tours that explored for quite a ways for several hours, but this time I selected one hour tour. It was satisfactory to enjoy the soft rime even if the tour only took us around the area not far from the Mountain Park station. We viewed from the hill a chain of the soft rime that spread to one of the peaks of Mt, Hakkoda and observed the soft rimes along the tour route. Each soft rime seen from close up was so novel that it would be available as contemporary art and modern fashion and there was not the same shape among them at all. I admired the expression power of nature.

The soft rime is produced by that the frost containing water droplets adheres to a tree and freezes. Originally it had meant a part compared to the "shrimp's tail" growing towards the windward, but now it becomes a generic term for a frozen tree. Even in Mt. Hakkoda, the tip of Aomori spruce tree which inclined towards the slopes of the mountain grew towards the windward further and made appear the "shrimp's tail".

The interesting thing was that the phenomenon was not only limited to trees but also extended to artifacts like the mountain radio tower or the Mountain Park station building and those made appear the mysterious scenery of a soft rime. Making an art work by spraying something is a method of contemporary art and here nature itself played the role of that artist.

In the accident of the distress, the soldiers who got lost in the snowstorm thought that they marched straight in the bad visibility, but, in actuality, turned away to the right according to the characteristics of human beings and unknowingly swirled around the same route, and the front of the march caught up with the last person.

One day in February I visited the soft rime tour, the weather changed rapidly from clear sky to blizzard but it was not a meteorological situation reminiscent of the distress. But the day before and after, the ropeway stopped operating, and especially the next day it was said that 25 meters of wind was blowing off the mountain highlands. Mt. Hakoda has become a place where tourism development was done and now it is easy to enjoy the soft rime, but it is still a place located at close quarters with harsh winter.

To Japanese Version

Google Maps

From Tokyo to Aomori
by train
: 3 hours 20 minutes from “Tokyo Station” to “Shin-Aomori Station” by Shinkansen (high speed train), one service per one hour. Then, 10 minutes from “Shin-Aomori Station” to “Aomori Station” by local train connected with Shinkansen, one service per one hour .
by air : 1 hours 20 minutes from “Tokyo Haneda Airport” to “Aomori Airport”, about 6 services ecah day. 30 minutes by bus from “Aomori Ariport” to “Aomori Station”.

From “Aomori Station” to "Mt. Hakkoda"
60 minutes by bus from "Aomori Station" to "Hakkoda Ropeway Sanroku-eki", 3 - 5 services per day. 10 minutes by ropeway from "Hakkoda Ropeway Sanroku-eki" to "Sancho Koen-eki", every 20 minutes. The site is around "Sancho Koen-eki".

Hakkoda Ropeway

Aomori City Office
Aomori City Guide

Aomori Sightseeng Guide

Acoommodations in Aomori


2018.01 Photos in English version, and photos and text in Japanese version


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Mt. Hakkoda and Soft rime in the winter

Photo by Daigo Ishii