[Feature] Zao in Autumn! Visit the Okama crater lake
I am from Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, living in Yamagata City. My hobbies are visiting art galleries, museums, hot springs, eating and walking. I will do my best to write articles aimed for young women of same age who want to discover the charms of Yamagata. I am also an official writer at Kodansha "with". ※ Interview shots etc. → Instagram (http://bit.ly/2OF8aPy)
Hello, this is Naomi Sato, the writer of this feature article.
Entering September, autumn is just around the corner in Yamagata.
This time, I would like to introduce a classic destination, Zao’s okama crater lake, which is perfect for the autumn season.
★ Okama crater lake
The Zao mountain range is spread over both Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures. At the top of it is the Okama crater lake.
Its diameter is said to be about 400 meters, and the surface of the lake, which changes to various colors when exposed to the sun, is also known as Goshiki-numa, the five-colored pond.
The lake water is strongly acidic and as such no lifeforms are found in it.
★ Clothes and preparation
The Okama crater lake is located at a fairly high altitude, so the temperature will be very low in late September.
It will make your experience more enjoyable if you have a mountain hoodie or mountain climbing shoes.
★ Access to Okama
When you go to Okama, you should definitely use the Zao Echo Line mountain road that connects Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures.
Its total length is 26 km, but in winter it is completely covered with snow and as such it is closed during that season (from the beginning of November to the end of April of the following year).
From the end of September, you can enjoy driving by the mountains colored in red and yellow.
★ Enjoy an aerial walk using the lift
You can reach the summit by using the 2.5 km Zao High Line toll mountain road, or by using the Zao Katta Lift before the toll road entrance.
The time required for the lift is approximately 7~8 minutes. It is a single-seater and costs 750 yen (adult) for a round trip.
There are shops and toilets at the platform, and it smells good with steam!
Yes, it is Yamagata’s specialty tama konnyaku (konjac balls).
The area around the Okama is a little chilly, so please try this healthy snack.
As you ride the lift up, you will see mountains that turn red and yellow.
In the autumn season, why not enjoy an air travel while feeling the autumn breeze at the Zao Katta Lift?
★ Arrive at Okama!
After getting off the lift, you can walk to the Okama crater lake viewing area in about 5 minutes.
The rugged rocks may be rolling, so please be careful and walk slowly.
If it’s sunny, you can see the wonderful emerald green lake surface!
In addition, many rare alpine plants grow in clusters near the summit.
It is recommended not only to look at the scenery but also to observe nature.
If you have some spare capacity, please use the mountain trail to visit Kumano Shrine and Kattamine Shrine where the Zao Gongen is enshrined.
★ Sightseeing spots in the area
If you go down the road from the Okama crater lake toward Miyagi, you will find many sightseeing spots.
Especially suitable for parents and children to enjoy is Zao Heartland, which is about 40 minutes by car from the Okama crater lake and about 70 minutes from Zao Onsen.
You can interact with animals and experience making cheese and butter in the vast land.
Also, I definitely recommend BBQ at the barbecue house!
Please enjoy the finest Zao beef and lamb meat grown on the ranch at the foot of Zao in the great outdoors.
201, Nanokahara, Togatta Onsen, Zao Town, Miyagi Prefecture 989-09160224-34-3769 (0120-150-302 for inquiries and reservations)0224-34-3769 (0120-150-302 for inquiries and reservations)
★ Heal your tiredness at the hot spring
Zao Onsen is famous as one of the best hot spring resorts in Yamagata.
It has a history of 1900 years since its opening.
It is characterized by its strong acidity which has a skin beautifying effect.
The three public baths of Zao Onsen are scattered within walking distance, so please enjoy visiting the hot springs.
The bathing fee is 200 yen each, which is a nice price.
Please check the feature article I wrote about Zao Onsen too!
[Feature] Zao in Late Winter! Activities to enjoy from Spring
This is a collection of recommended spots in and around Zao Onsen during late winter and early spring season.
Zao in Autumn is full of charm and fun.
The best time to see the autumn leaves is just around the corner, so why not go out?
[Activity] Mt. Kakunodate & Okama in Winter! Go up Zao in snow shoes
A mountain instructor will guide you to Kumanodake and Okama crater lake in the snow ♪
* Mid-March to early May