Juniko is located in Aomori Prefecture. The location is a part of Shirakami Mountains which is registered as UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also a part of Tsugaru Quasi National Park.
Juniko means twelve lakes. The real number of the lakes is 33. Nobody knows why it is called twelve, but some say that if you see the lakes from Mount Kuzure, you only can see 12. Or by coincidence, the number of the big lakes over 10,000 square meters is 12.
It is believed that the lakes were created by stopping the river by the earth and sand after the big landslide of Mount Kuzure, 940 meters-high, caused by the big earthquake in 1704. Other than the river water, underground water is also gushing into the lakes. These lakes are surrounded by the beech forest. The water of the lake is very clear and transparent.
Out of 33 lakes, Aoike is the most famous one because of its beautiful color. “Ao” means blue and “ike” means pond, so it means Blue Pond. It looks like blue ink was dropped into the water. There are fallen beech trees under the water. By the angle of the sun shine, you can enjoy the changing of the color.
Wakitsubonoike has also beautiful blue color and selected as one of the best quality water in Aomori Prefecture. One part is named Nihon Canyon (Japanese Grand Canyon) because of the white surface of the mountain.
Hiking around Juniko
The altitude of the area is between 150 to 250 meters. The area is about 4 km2. You can enjoy hiking all the year round and it shows the different scenery in each season. Vivid green leaves of beech tree in spring and summer, yellow and red leaves in autumn and white in winter. In winter it snows here, but you can visit the area wearing snow shoes.
You can get the hiking map at the tourist information office in front of the JR Juniko Station. Depending on how you want to walk, there are short 2 hours courses to 3 days course walking with nature a guide.
You may encounter some of the wild animals such as Japanese serows, squirrels, monkeys (Japanese macaque), badgers, rabbits and some birds such as narcissus flycatchers, common kingfishers and great spotted woodpeckers.
If you stop at the Juniko Visitor Center, you can learn about the geography, fauna and flora in the area.
Access : 15 minutes ride on the bus from Juniko Station (JR Line) to Oku-Juniko-Chushajo (奥十二湖駐車場) bus stop