Zao-san Travel Guide

  • you can't take photos there, this will have to do
    you can't take photos there, this will...
    by Mr.Sparkle
  • Zao-san
    by Mr.Sparkle
  • Zao-san
    by Mr.Sparkle

Zao-san Things to Do

  • Onsens of Zao-san

    While take in the sights of Zao-san don’t forget to stop any one of the dozen onsen resorts at the base of Zao-san. All the onsens here are all naturally heated by the volcanic action of the earth and you have your choice in outside or inside facilities. The onsens closest to the town center will most crowded, so if you can, try to reach one of the...

  • Okama crater lake

    Okama crater lake, of the five colored lake, is truly a beautiful site to see. After walking the dead dormant volcano the welcoming color of the lake is even more luminous. The lake is named the five colored lake because the color will change depending on different factors, like weather. Must see the lake as a deep blue, but the day I was there it...

  • Hiking Zao-san

    Zao is pretty easy hike seeing how you can take any number of ropeways up to the summit, or rather close to the summit. The paths are well marked out and taken care of. You will find stone or wood laid on most of the path so walking it is a synch. That being said, the path is lifeless and filled with muted earth tones. It gets rather boring. The...

  • At the summit of Mount Katta

    MOUNT KATTA: At the summit you can experience a fascinating view of Okama & a shrine of Zao. The building on the lower right corner is the Visitor Center & Parking Lot for tourist coaches.

  • Unique

    This mineral-laden lake is no home to plant or fish. The minerals also give the lake its deep opal-blue color under the mid-day sun.

  • Desolation

    Its desolation & stark beauty make Okama one of the most dramatic sights I've come across in Japan. A small breeze, the passing of the clouds & the different time of the day present a delightful canvas of sceneries where one could barely contains one's excitement & amazement!

  • Zooooooom

    Remember to bring along a zoom lens or telescope to capture the magnificent landscape. On a clear day, it's a photographer's prize.

  • Depth perspective

    To get a perspective of the depth one has to go to get close to the lake (& even that is not close enough) please click on the photo. To me, it's a pretty treacherous road but an exciting one as well!

  • Mountain Range

    Many a times, no footprints have graced these paths. Naturally, no footprints = no paths. But, with technology, we are still able to have a view of the gorgeous vistas. This may not be the same for many, but to me, they serve a purpose; we get to see more than ever before & we learn the importance of prioritizing.

  • Challenge yourself

    Challenge yourself & hike as close as you possibly can to the OKAMA CRATER LAKE. Formed more than 380 years ago after an eruption, this has to be one of the most amazing sceneries one gets to see in Japan. Like a rare gem, it glows under the sunlight & on a clear day the image is so perfect that one finds it hard to leave. I was here for almost 3...

  • Pray

    Worshipers of a shrine will stand in front of the haiden hall, pull the bell rope, toss money into a box & clap 3 times to summon the resident kami (deities). Having done that, they then stand in silent prayer.

  • Okama Worship

    For the Shintoists, another opportunity to worship the Okama. The Torii is the most recognizable icon of Shinto. These are gateways to the sacred precints of a shrine. Usually made of wood with 2 rails at the top. Sometimes they are constructed in stone as well.


Zao-san Restaurants

Zao-san Transportation

  • Sharrie's Profile Photo

    Shinkansen + Buses

    by Sharrie Updated Jun 8, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    First, take the Yamagata Shinkansen to either Yamagata or Shiroishi Station. There are local buses from these 2 stations. There's a direct bus from Sendai JR Station but only 1 trip a day (Cost = ¥2250 each way).

    Bus Schedule:

    From Shiroishi To Katta Peak:
    Depart 9.43, Arrive 11.15.
    Depart 10.57, Arrive 12.28.
    Depart 12.43, Arrive 14.14.

    From Katta Peak To Shiroishi:
    Depart 12.03, Arrive 13.39.
    Depart 13.40, Arrive 15.15.
    Depart 15.20, Arrive 16.56.

    From Sendai To Katta Peak:
    Depart 8.30, Arrive 10.30.
    From Katta Peak To Sendai:
    Depart 14.40, Arrive 16.46.

    To get to Zao Quasi National Park & Okama, the more adventurous way is by the Zao Sanroku Ropeway to Juhyo Kogen (the location of Snow Monster) & then by the 2nd ropeway to Zao Jizo-o Sancho Station at 1661 m.

    Cost = 1200 Yen.

    If you have lots of camera gears & belongings, I don't suggest going by this way. Check out the pix & you'll know what I mean. For those who have height phobia, do not go by this way!

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Zao-san Local Customs

  • Kokeshi Dolls

    KOKESHI DOLLS: Generally termed Kokeshi when they are of a joined wooden cylinder and sphere. They were originally made as the souvenirs of the Tohoku hot springs area since 1800. Well know hot spa areas often have their own Kokeshi. Kokeshi dolls have become popular for their gentle features embodying an ideal of femininity. In the 6 prefectures...

  • Shinto

    To find out more about the Shinto religion, please proceed to Shinto Online Network Associaton:

  • Shrine & good fortune

    In Japan, there are many shrines all over the country. At Zao, I found one right at the top of the mountain. Japanese visit shrines normally to pray for good fortunes & turn away evil spirits. After each visit, one can buy amulets & charms with a small offering. One such amulet is featured here.


Zao-san Warnings and Dangers

  • Weather

    Weather can be a real problem on Zao and can be radicly different on the top. When I arrived at the bottom it was sunny. After taking the ropeway up (appromitly 20 mintues) it was windy, overcast and beginning to rain. When I returned to the bottom it was sunny again. The weather also varied on different sections of the summit as well. Might want...

  • Weather Changes in the mountains

    This photo was taken at around 3 pm. It's amazing how fast the weather changes up in the mountains. So, try to make your trip as early as possible & makes sure you have transportation back to town.

  • Don't Forget Insurance

    If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.

Zao-san Favorites

  • Trees in Japan

    One of the most interesting houses I passed by while on the way to Okama. I thought the trees are kind of different; a sculptured look perhaps?

  • Kokeshi

    Wonder what a Kokeshi doll is?Kokeshi Doll: Generally termed Kokeshi when they are of a joined wooden cylinder and sphere. They were originally made as the souvenirs of the Tohoku hot springs area since 1800. Well know hot spa areas often have their own Kokeshi. Kokeshi dolls have become popular for their gentle features embodying an ideal of...

  • Jizo Statues

    Jizo Statues: Usually red-bibbed (placed by bereaved mothers & sufferers), these statues are found largely in temples & along waysides in Japan. Acting as guardian (Bosatsu - Japanese word for Bodhisattva, a figure that has attained Enlightenment & helps others) of those who suffer (sickly children & pregnant women), Jizo is said to help miscarried...


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