- Goshikinuma Walking Trail
- Urabandai Visitors' Center
- Goshikinuma Lakes and Ponds
- Genmu Endo Grave
- Urabandai Bussankan
- Mt. Bandai webcam
Yanaginuma Pond, Goshikinuma
Goshikinuma, the "Five Colored Marshes," is a group of very picturesque lakes and ponds on a highland plain in Bandai-Asahi National Park, Fukushima prefecture, about 3 km north of the foot of Mt. Bandai. They have existed only since 1887, when Mt. Bandai erupted, generating a cascade of displaced earth and rubble that blocked in various places what had been a river, creating ponds and lakes.
From this the mineraloid, allophane (consisting mainly of aluminum and silicon), leached into the newly formed lakes. The sludge at the bottom of the most of the lakes contains this and other chemicals that give the water a distinctive deep blue tint that changes subtly with the sunshine. Furthermore, a combination of iron oxide and various kinds of plants and algae in the lakes produces a reddish tinge in some of the lakes. Each lake or pond therefore has a different, unusually vivid, color, which can change day-to-day or throughout the year.
Goshikinuma Walking Trail
There is an easy walkway between the Urabandai Visitors' Center and the Yudairayama district 3.6 km west on the shore of Lake Hibara. It takes the visitor past dozens of ponds (the "Five" are only the main ones), each with its own unique beauty.The hike takes just over an hour one-way.
The Goshikinuma trail is wheelchair friendly with a maximum gradient of 5% and planked in places.
Urabandai Visitors' Center
If you are coming by bus, the Urabandai Visitors' Center end of the walk is the better place to begin. The Center is large and well-equipped, and provides information not only about touring the area, but on the geography, wildlife and history of the area itself in various exhibits, including video. Unfortunately for the English-speaker, it is all in Japanese, apart from one or two pamphlets available if you ask. However, the realia on display is interesting even without the benefit of explanation. Toilets available.
Access to Urabandai Visitors' Center
The Urabandai Visitors' Center is just a two-minute walk from the Goshikinuma-iriguchi bus stop.
Inside the Urabandai Visitors' Center
Glimpse of green water through forest: a minor pond near Akanuma
Goshikinuma Lakes and Ponds
The Goshikinuma walking trail takes you past about 30 ponds and lakes in all. The following is a description of the main ones.
From the Urabandai Visitor's Center (i.e., the eastern end of the trail) the walk takes you first past the largest of the lakes, Bishamon-numa (Lake Bishamon), over which Mt. Bandai is normally visible.
Akanuma ("Red Pond") is a small pond actually greener than it is red, but with a unique reddish outline from the high iron content of it water seeping into the roots of the reeds in it and tinting them red.
Midoro-numa ("Deep Mud Lake") is a butterfly-shaped pond surrounded by reeds and bulrushes, and its water is, much like Akanuma, emerald green but with reddish tinges in its plant life.
Tatsu-numa ("Dragon Lake") is distinguished by having numerous little cascades of water flowing into it, and water that is particularly changeable in color, tending towards green in winter and bright blue in spring. However, foliage grows especially thick around Tatsu-numa, affording only glimpses of the water.
Benten-numa (Benten is the Japanese goddess of the arts and wisdom): the second largest of the five lakes, and perhaps named after a goddess for the almost mysterious depth and mix of rich blues and greens visible in the water.
Ruri-numa ("Lake Lapis Lazuli") is named so for the deep, rich blue of its waters, which are probably the clearest of any of the Goshikinuma lakes. Ruri-numa, too, is surrounded by quite thick foliage so is a little difficult to get a good look out over. But, like Lake Bishamon, it features a backdrop of Urabandai mountains.
Ao-numa ("Blue/Green Lake") is, as the name says, a beautiful blue-green, but with a somewhat milky aspect. Look out for whitened leaves of overhanging branches that have made contact with the water, bleached by the lake's acidity.
Yanagi-numa ("Willow Lake") lacks the sludge-filled bottom of the other lakes, therefore it lacks the "magic" hues and tints. However, the water is very clear and faithfully reflects its surroundings, making for another special kind of beauty.
Clearing with grave of Genmu Endo
Genmu Endo Grave
Between Ao-numa and Yanagi-numa the path bends northwards, and after about 350 meters over a path blocked at several places by fallen trees (so please go carefully) you get to the grave of Genmu Endo (1864-1934) who dedicated his life to replanting trees and thus re-greening the Urabandai area after the eruption. This quiet, mysterious clearing is dominated by a massive boulder at the far end with the gravestone of Endo shadowed in its base.
Urabandai Bussankan beside Yanagi-numa
The Urabandai Bussankan is a building at the Yanaginuma end of the trail containing numerous souvenir shops selling local artifacts and produce.
By car from Tokyo
Take the Tohoku Expressway. About 2 hours 40 minutes on from the Urawa interchange you will reach Kōriyama junction. Change there to the Ban'etsu Expressway and head west. After about 20 minutes take the Inawashiro Bandai Kogen interchange north onto National Highway No.115. After about 20 minutes turn left onto Route 459 for Urabandai. The Urabandai Visitors' Center will be on your left. If you keep driving, you will arrive at the other end of the trail on the shore of Lake Hibara.
By train from Tokyo
Take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen to Koriyama Station (about 1 hour 20 minutes from Tokyo Station). Change to the rapid service train of the JR Ban'etsu West line ("Ban'etsu Saisen" in Japanese) and take the approx. 25 minute ride to Inawashiro Station (猪苗代駅). Then take an Aizu bus about 30 minutes to Goshikinuma-iriguchi bus stop. (Just tell the driver, "Goshikinuma.") Note that the bus ride (720 yen one way) is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Mt. Bandai webcam
See live camera footage of Lake Renge and Mt. Bandai from the Internet Nature Information System of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.
Rent A Mobile Phone
Rent A Mobile Phone in Urabandai
Books on Japan
Goshikinuma is five main ponds, and many smaller ones, in pristine Bandai-Asahi National Park, Fukushima, famous for their intense, beautiful and changing colors.