#autumnfoliage #naturewalk #vantagepoint #bestofbothworlds #mountainview #oceanview #okubogorge #mountmoto

*A car will be necessary since there are no hiking trails leading to this location.


As we near the end of winter and inch closer to spring, I feel that many of us, including myself, are looking forward to the lush of greens and the not so chilly winds. I do understand that it won’t be all that warm when this article is posted, but giving you ideas on what you can do when the time comes can’t be all that bad right?


But before we continue onto our main topic, allow me to provide you with some background knowledge. Firstly, when one speaks of the “Tohoku Region” we point to the 6 most northern prefectures of mainland Japan. This region is famous for their harsh winters filled with snow and ice, multiple famous hot springs, variety as well as high quality of food, in addition to their nature filled mountains.

This nature filled mountainous, or two particular spots I’d like to introduce you all today, are located within the city of Ofunato.

So, without further ado, allow me introduce the first spot to visit.


Okubo Gorge #1 (大窪渓谷 = “Okubo Keikoku”)

located in the mountains of Ofunato-shi, Yoshihama-cho

(Google Maps Link: https://goo.gl/maps/yTpXwpnq5mrDckZE7)


The actual gorge with high rocky walls is further up the mountain, but here is just the right location to catch the best scenes in the mountains of Ofunato. The peacefulness of the atmosphere is perfect, and the soothing sound of the waters enables you to relax and helps you unplug from society so that you can concentrate on the surrounding.


Taken slightly downstream from the indicated URL location.


One of the reasons why I like this spot is because of how it is surrounded with nature so much so that when you step in, you feel as if you are isolated from the rest of the world, but also because this spot can be enjoyed all year round. (I do include winter but do take extra caution as the mountain roads tend to be covered in ice.)


Another picture at the spot, but is taken slightly upstream from the URL location.


Date wise, these two pictures are taken relatively close to each other (early October and late October), but you can see the resemblance of both summer and autumn, which further broadens the imagine of how the scenery can transform in spring and winter.

(For those who are interested in visiting this place to catch the autumn colors, I advise going in late Oct. OR early-mid Nov., though I will warn that the foliage in the mountain will change fast.)


So you’re interested in going, but you don’t know where its located or how to get there. For such people, I’ve provided the exact coordinates using google map in the link above. You might notice that there are other locations with the exact same name, but the coordinates I provided is in my opinion the best spot with an adequate parking spot. (the parking spot is more so a grass patch on the side of the road.)

I will cut off on describing the road up to that point to save you some excitement, but I will mention that when you come close to the location, you will come to a sharp curve. The sky will open up as less trees crowd the road and lead to the patch of grass on the right where you can park, as per picture.


Parking on the side of the road after the sharp curve


After parking the car, walk downhill towards the curve you just came up. You will find a path leading you to the gorge on the right. (Located at the tip of the curve. The path is not paved in any way, but should be fairly visible) Hop over a small stream and you’ll find a path going downhill leading you to the river. (2-5min walk from the car.)


Okubo Gorge #2 (大窪渓谷 = “Okubo Keikoku”)

located in the mountains of Ofunato-shi, Yoshihama-cho

(Google Maps Link: https://goo.gl/maps/SPiTCwimcDnKFbKPA)


Aside from the spot mentioned above, there is a spot further up the mountain that is another great place to visit along this gorge.

Climb up the road with your car for about 10 – 15 min by car, and you will come across a red sign on the left which is where you will also find a small space on the side of the road for parking.

(Note: that this parking space here is rather small and will allow only 1 or 2 cars to stop.)


But other than the complex parking spot, the view is nothing but breathtaking. The shallow yet wide river create an opening for fresh breeze of air and a 360-degree view of Ofunato city’s nature. The most recommended season is autumn just like this!


Taken in Late October when most leaves have changed colors


The red sign I have mentioned early warns hunters not to utilize traps in the area. Although this may sound alarming, deer hunting in Japan are maintained through strict rules. Areas which restrict traps also restricts rifles, additionally, rifle usage near roads are already prohibited by law, meaning you are safe. If you feel even slightly worried, I will advise you to wear bright colored clothing when you visit.

Going onto the second spot..!


Mt. Moto (元山 = “Moto Yama”)

located in Ofunato-shi, Yoshihama-cho

(Google Maps Link: https://goo.gl/maps/Su485yEYtZBxuKUe6)


Further uphill from the Okubo Gorge is where you’ll find the next vantage point I’d like to recommend in Ofunato. I should mention that this spot is located along the same path up to Okubo Gorge, meaning that you can enjoy two spots in one trip! Additionally, the road from the gorge up to the entrance of Mt. Moto is very simple since there are only curves and no turns.


But I will note the entrance can be a bit tricky to find since it is technically not indicated on the map. I have linked a pin of the entrance above for reference, but this should be fairly easy to find since the entrance’s pavement will change to a gravel filled road.

After entering, you will find that the road will become narrower but do not panic when there is an on-coming car as there are several openings along the road to let them pass. You can even use these spots for a quick park to take pictures or look at the surrounding too, but I urge you to continue without stopping too much so that the excitement builds up for the finale!


The peak of the mountain is approximately 10-15 mins from the entrance. The view will gradually expand as you near the edge of the mountain, slowly leading you to an open space with one of the best sights you can find here. The grass field extends effortlessly, the mountains are filled with trees, and last but not least, the Pacific ocean that stretches past the horizon makes this place that much better. It’s a perfect place for a picnic, to relax and feel the breeze, or possibly just enjoy some time alone


The impression you get can differ from the weather, but the day I went was just perfect!


As I have mentioned with the asterisk in the beginning, you will need a car to get here. Getting here by foot is not impossible since ultimately you can walk on the road, but I will note that the road is narrow with a lot of curves. What this means is that for the cars, there can be multiple blind spots, and when they generally don’t expect hikers, it can lead to serious accidents.


Additionally, although the road is paved and well maintained, kindly understand that you are in the mountains and will need to be wary of animals, fallen trees, rocks or boulders on the road. (*Side note, if you are planning on going alone, I highly suggest a bear bell)


If you have any questions/comments/advice please feel free to reach out through my social media accounts or email!!

Until next time!!





(グーグルマップ: https://goo.gl/maps/yTpXwpnq5mrDckZE7)