Summer is the perfect time to take a hike around the incredible Goshiki-numa, Urabandai.
The range of colours which can be seen in the water of the picturesque lakes and ponds of this area has given it the name ‘Goshiki-numa’, meaning ‘Five Coloured Marshes’.
The area is most well-known for its bright blue ponds, which contain the mineral allophane (made up of aluminum and silicic acid), which is thought to have been released into the water by the nearby Mt Bandai after its eruption in 1887. The reddish colour of other ponds is caused by a mixture of iron oxide and algae.
The surface of the lakes here appears to change colour depending on the time of day, and the season. Although the cobalt blue water looks amazing under a bright blue summer sky, the red maple leaves of autumn look sublime against the bluest of the lakes.
Springtime offers visitors milder temperatures, and winter allows for a very different way of experiencing the lakes: by snowshoe! I did snowshoe trekking around Goshiki-numa this winter, which was very fun! But I think I prefer seeing it surrounded by lush greenery.
So, what can you do at Goshiki-numa?
1. Take a Walk
The most well-known walking route is 3.6km long, and takes around 70 minutes to complete. It begins from the Urabandai Visitor Information Centre, and is a course suitable for those without experience of hiking.
This scenic route takes you all around the main ponds and lakes of the area, including Bishamon Numa, Aka Numa (the red pond), and Yanagi Numa (especially beautiful during Autumn time).
The route finishes up near Urabandai Kogen Station, from where you can take a bus back to the entrance of Goshiki-numa (or walking back!!).
Check out the map below for more information on the walking route. The walk begins at the right-hand side, where there is a pin labelled “Goshiki-numa Iriguchi”.
2. Rent a boat
Boats can be rented near the Urabandai Visitor Information Centre, on the edge of Bishamon Numa. Renting a paddle boat is the perfect way to enjoy the calm atmosphere of Goshiki-numa and a great way to take in the amazing scenery.
3. Look for the Heart Koi Carp
Spotting this special koi carp supposedly means that you’re lucky in love!
Unlike the other kois in the lakes of Goshiki-numa, the Heart Koi has the shape of a heart on the side of its body.
See if you can spot the koi during your visit! If you fancy even more of a challenge, try and take his picture!
(Hint: he likes hanging around the boats at Bishamon Numa, near the start of the hiking route)
4. Check out Lake Hibara
Lake Hibara is a large lake very close to the Goshikinuma. You can take part in a Sightseeing Cruise on the lake, or hire one of many cute, brightly coloured bird-themed pedalos. There are some places to get food close by, and it offers great views.
By car: Around 25 mins from the Inawashiro Bandai Kogen IC, off of the Banetsu Expressway.
By public transport: Access Goshikinuma by bus from Inawashiro Station.
Inawashiro Station is on the Ban-Etsusai Line, which is easily accessed from Aizu Wakamatsu, Koriyama, Fukushima and many others.
Here are the bus timetables between Inawashiro Station and Goshikinuma
Weekday Timetable: Inawashiro Goshikinuma Bus Timetable Weekday
Weekend / National Holiday / Summer Holiday Timetable*: Inawashiro Goshikinuma Bus Timetable Weekend Holiday
*Summer holidays between Jul 21 and Aug 24 2017.
When going to Goshikinuma, look for buses heading to Hibara (桧原), Urabandai Kogen Station (裏磐梯高原駅), or Urabandai Hibarakohan (磐梯桧原湖畔).
When returning to Inawashiro Station, look for buses heading to Inawashiro Station (猪苗代駅).