Land area: 85,551 ha
Designated on February 1, 1936
Hakkoda is famous for mountains that are good for climbing and spring skiing. It has been a popular tourist spot since old times for its dynamic scenery of volcanic mountains and hot springs. Frost-covered trees seen in coniferous forests in winter are especially fascinating.
Towada-Hachimantai National Park is located in the northern part of the Tohoku Region. It is divided into two sections: one area includes the Hakkoda Mountains, Lake Towadako and the Oirasekeiryu Streams, and the other area includes Hachimantai Plateau, Mt. Iwatesan and Mt. Akitakomagatake.
The Hakkoda Mountains located in the northern part of the park are a volcanic chain consisting of eight volcanoes. The highest peak is Mt. Hakkodaodake (1,585 m) and in the southeastern part of the range lies Sukayuonsen Spa from which fumarolic gas geysers out vigorously. The Hakkoda Branch of the Tohoku University Botanical Garden, located near the spa, is open to the public.
Lake Towadako is a double caldera lake with a maximum depth of 327 m. The two peninsulas which jut out into the lake make an exquisite view. The Oirasegawa River is the only river flowing out of the lake. The part of the river between the lake and 14 km downstream is known as the Oirasekeiryu Streams. It presents a graceful view like a Japanese garden as the stream includes brooks, small waterfalls, rocks fleeced with moss and dense forests on the shore. The area is especially beautiful in autumn when leaves turn red, and writers in old times described it as one of the best scenic spots in Japan. A walking trail is provided along the stream for visitors to enjoy the aesthetic landscape.
Hachimantai in the southern part of the park is a grand lava plateau in which swamps and ponds are scattered. There is still frequent volcanic activity in this area and at Goshogakeonsen Spa, fumarolic gas, smoke and hot water gush out. Some mud volcanoes can be seen, too.
Mt. Iwatesan (2,038 m), the highest mountain in the park, towers over the southeastern part of the plateau, and further south, there is Mt. Akitakomagatake (1,637 m), which erupted recently. In Japan, there are many mountains which have the word "Komagatake" in their names. Among them, Mt. Akitakomagatake is well-known as a treasure trove of alpine plants.
As Hachimantai is a mountainous area created by volcanic activity, there is no inhabited area in the park. Because of the beautiful landscapes of nature, quality of the snow and land features, these mountains are visited by many skiers in spring.
The vegetation in the park area consists mainly of broad-leaved deciduous forests of beeches (Fagus crenata) and Japanese oaks (Quercus crispula). Coniferous forests of Maries firs (Abies mariesii) and other kinds of trees can be seen in the upper part of the Hakkoda Mountains and Hachimantai Plateau, and around the top of high mountains, there are communities of alpine and swamp plants.
In winter, trees in the coniferous forests in Hakkoda and Hachimantai are covered with juhyo, silver frost, that makes mysterious landscapes. Juhyo are ice layers that form on trees when mist is blown by the wind and hits trees and other objects. It is formed when the temperature is lower than five degrees below zero. Trees covered with juhyo look exquisite. Both the ice layer and the trees covered with silver frost are called juhyo in Japanese.
The foot and mountainside of Hachimantai and Mt. Akitakomagatake are scattered with hot spas which have been known as places for medicinal hot-springs since old times. They have a distinctive atmosphere as some hot-spring houses use ondols, a kind of floor heater used in Korea and the northeastern part of China.