Mount Zao, a volcano near Sendai   蔵王山

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The lake at the top of Mount Zao

Mount Zao Valley

Zao ski resort

View of Mount Zao

Okama crater, the pond with five colors

Mount Zao is a mountain nestled in the Tohoku region, between the prefectures of Miyagi and Yamagata. Located in the middle of a quasi-national park, it's known for its onsen and ski resorts, as well as its hiking trails.

The volcano surmounted by a lake

Like many mountains in Japan, Mount Zao is a volcanic formation, the last known activity of which dates back to 1940.

Mt. Zao rises to 1840 meters above sea level and belongs to the list of the 100 most famous mountains in Japan, a classification that can be justified by the mere presence of Lake Okama. The latter, 27 meters deep and 1 km in circumference, is not far from the summit, at 1550 meters above sea level, and attracts many tourists with its circular outline and by the constantly changing color of its water.

Okama Lake

Okama Lake

Nicknamed the goshiki numa or "five color pond", this lake changes color depending on the time of day and the weather from turquoise to emerald green. Note that the very high acidity means that nothing can live in or drink the water.

Dai Rotenburo, Zao onsen

A superb tourist complex

Mount Zao seems to have almost been created by nature purposefully to welcome visitors.

At the foot of the mountain, there is an onsen which, according to legend, was discovered in the year 110. This makes it one of the oldest hot springs in Japan, prized for its acidity level, which softens the skin and is said to help ease gastric pain.

The mountainside is open to many activities. The ski slopes are famous, in particular, are famous for the juhyo, which means "frozen tree", trees covered with snow during the winter months that seem to take the form of a monster.

Due to the winds coming from Siberia and the Sea of Japan, these snow monsters remain during the whole winter season. 

Snow monsters at Zao ski resort

Snow monsters at Zao ski resort

The mountain is also particularly suitable for hiking. Divided into three zones (North Zao, Central Zao, and South Zao), most of the hiking trails lead to Lake Okama. Beginning with paths bordered by dense vegetation made of alpine trees, nature becomes clearer about halfway and allows you to enjoy a breathtaking view of the Miyagi region.

The statue of the Bodhisattva Jizo, built in the eighteenth century on one end of the mountain, watches over the souls of hikers who died during the ascent, is one of the jewels along the route, with lake Okama. And for those who want to enjoy the view without getting tired, the Zao Sanroku cable car takes you to the top effortlessly

Mount Zao in autumn

Mount Zao in autumn

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