Land area: 186,389 ha
Designated on September 5, 1950
There are different types of volcanic mountains in the park area. Some have been adored as hallowed grounds and visited by many worshipers since old times, and some maintain most of their natural environment untouched as they are so steep that only experienced climbers can reach their summits. There are some volcanoes that changed their shapes after eruptions in the 19th century. It is very interesting to learn about the features of each volcano.
Bandai-Asahi National Park is composed of four sections: the area in the central and southern parts of the Tohoku Region which includes Dewasanzan and the Asahi Mountain Chain, the Iide Mountain Chain area, the area which includes the Bandai and Azuma Volcanic Groups and Urabandaikogen Plateau, and the Lake Inawashiroko area. It is the third largest national park in Japan.
Dewasanzan is a chain of three sacred mountains located in the northern part of the park. It has a long history and is still visited by many worshipers. Mt. Gassan (1,984 m), the main peak of Dewasanzan, is an old volcano whose top has lost its original shape as the result of collapse. As it is an area of heavy snowfall, large patches of snow can be seen even in summer in valleys on the lava plateau on the south side of the mountain.
The Asahi Mountain Chain, located in the south of Mt. Gassan, forms a watershed which stretches about 15 km. Mt. O-Asahidake (1,870 m), with its pyramid summit, is the highest peak in the chain.
The Iide Mountain Chain located further south has Mt. Dainichidake (2,128 m) as its highest peak. There is lingering snow until late summer in deep valleys on the mountainside. Like the Asahi Mountain Chain, the mountains are deep and hard for inexperienced climbers, so most of the area's natural environment is untouched.
Mt. Bandaisan (1,819 m) had a large-scale eruption in 1888. This destroyed a part of the mountain and caused damage to the inhabited area at its foot. The eruption dammed up some rivers resulting in the formation of many new lakes at the base of the mountain. The Azuma Mountain Chain consists of both old and new volcanoes of more than 2,000 m in height including Mt. Nishiazumayama (2,035 m). The mountain area is dotted with swamps. Mt. Adatarayama (1,700 m) is an active volcano and on its top, there is a crater basin from which smoke spouts, forming a desolate landscape. In the Bandai-Azuma area, many mountain spas lie scattered.
Lake Inawashiroko, located at the south end of the park, is the fourth largest lake in Japan. It is believed that like other volcanic lakes in this area, the lake was created when Mt. Bandaisan erupted several tens of thousands of years ago.
As for vegetation in the park, Dewasanzan and the Asahi Mountain Chain area, the Iide Mountain Chain area and Bandai-Azuma area are all covered with beech (Fagus crenata) woods from the foot of the mountains to halfway up. On the peaks of the Asahi and Iide Mountain Chains, there is unique vegetation influenced by the alpine climate, such as wind beaten grasslands and snowfield plants, unique to high-mountain areas where there is long-lasting remaining snow. A rich variety of alpine plants can be seen in the mountain area.
The park area is a habitat for black bears, Japanese macaques and Japanese serows. Their population densities are high in some parts of the area. Many wild birds live on the Urabandaikogen Plateau and flocks of Tundra swans make their habitat at Lake Inawashiroko in winter.