On the Western Coast of Aomori prefecture is a small village called ‘Fukaura’ where lies the most mysterious and over-whelming of beautiful places. It is known as ‘Juniko’.
‘Juniko’ literally means twelve lakes, it consisting of 33 small and large ponds created by a major 6.9 magnitude earthquake over 300 years ago. I spent hours researching how they became a direct product of the earthquake but it seems a mystery to more people than myself, in a way though it is better that way, as the absence of logic adds to the magic of the place.
Driving to get to the ponds you travel though Shirakami-Sanchi (白神山地, white god mountain area) which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This mountainous, unspoiled expanse of virgin forest straddles both Akita and Aomori Prefectures. Of the entire 1,300 km², a tract covering 169.7 km² was included in the list of World Heritage Sites in 1993. Siebold’s beech trees make up a large portion of the forest.
People in Aomori know about ‘Juniko’ but I found it astonishing that some merely knew of it and nothing more, others had maybe visited once but a surprising amount of Japanese had actually never even heard of the place.
It is like a different world, a sparkling enchantment straight out of a fairy tale.
When visiting Juniko, you can take a full day and tour all the ponds. Myself and Allie were on route to our sumo weekend in Akita so unfortunately we didn’t have the time.
We had heard that the best of the best was the ‘Aoike’ pond. This one is tucked into the park a little bit but you can easily drive around the park and walk for about 15 minutes to get to it. We stopped a lot of times on route to view numerous lakes on our way to the ‘Aoike’ pond.
The ‘Aoike’ pond is known as the best because of its transparent crystal blue colour. I had seen pictures of it before we found it but it genuinely took my breath away, no photo will ever capture its true magnificence. We stood in absolute awe for a very long time looking into a world of blue that was so amazingly beautiful it left us totally speechless.
Through the water you can see the beech trees at the bottom of the 9 metre deep pond. It’s difficult to tell from the photographs which part of the trees are below the water and which are above because of the reflections…it’s just as tricky and magical to the eye when the lake is right before you.
We were very lucky the day we visited, it was overcast but a very bright day which meant the pond was sparkling but without the glare of the sun.
If you live ANYWHERE near Aomori, go here and I promise you won’t regret it…you will never get the blue sparkle out of your head. Blue has officially regained its strong position as my favorite color.