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Lakes

Lake Inawashiro is a freshwater lake, the third in size in Japan and with a water transparency of 12-15 degrees. The lake is a migration ground for swans and home to the “Mizusugi-koge” moss clusters that have been designated a National Natural Monument.

There is only one island in the lake, Okina-jima Island. Its view from National Route 49 as well as from the adjacent railway lines is considered among the most scenic spots in the lake area.

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Other places of natural interest include the crater lake Okenuma with a diameter of about 100 meters (328 ft), emerald green waters and a beautiful hiking trail; Urabandai Goshikinuma, a cluster of five volcanic ponds; Oguninuma Pond, whose wetlands feature about 300 different species; and the largest of the Urabandai lakes, Lake Hibara, also a hot-spot for pond smelt fishing and best viewed through pleasure cruises.

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Waterfalls

Characteristic of the area is Tatsuzawa Fudo no Taki waterfall. The water from Mt. Funamyojin of the Adatara mountain range flows in the Fudo-gawa River and from there in the waterfall, which has also been a place of worship for the Buddhist divine entity Fudoson. Particularly beautiful when the foliage is fresh but also in autumn colors, the twin cascades – the majestic “male” Odaki and the graceful “female” Medaki – display a marked contrast.

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Also worthy of notice are the 25 m (82 ft) tall and always cool Onogawa Fudo no Taki waterfall, the biggest in the Urabandai highlands, and the Shiraito no Taki waterfall with its hot-spring water gushing forth from the old site of the Iyo-kozan sulfur mines.

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Seasonal spots

Spring
Spots famous for their cherry blossoms are the Kannonji-gawa River, where trees are lined up for about a kilometer on both sides of the river and have received the Japanese Cherry Blossom Association’s commendation in 1997, Kamegajoshi, Hanitsu-jinja Shrine, Iwahashi-jinja Shrine’s with its “Oshika Cherry-Trees,” one of Aizu Domain’s “Five Famous Cherry-Trees” (“Gozakura”), Showa no Mori and Myoke.

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Summer
Renowned as Honshu’s premier spot for buckwheat cultivation (from which soba noodles are made), during bloom time the plants’ flowers create a beautiful white carpet, while on the lake the blooming yellow flowers of the aquatic plant Asaza make for magnificent scenery. Also worth seeing are the lavender in Inawashiro Herb Garden, Tatsuzawa Fudo no Taki waterfall and Nakatsugawa Canyon.

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Autumn
In Nakatsugawa Canyon with its 48-plus waterfalls (also known as “Iroha Daki”) the autumn foliage is particularly beautiful. Beautiful autumn scenery can also be enjoyed at the giant maze in the cosmos field of Inawashiro Herb Garden, at the Hanitsu-jinja Shrine where the founder of the Aizu Domain, Hoshina Masayuki, is enshrined and at the Tatsuzawa Fudo no Taki waterfall.

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Winter
During the coldest part of winter, nature creates unique art masterpieces through the phenomenon called “shibuki-goori” (splash-ice). Due to strong western winds, the lake’s water becomes spray, lands on the trees and shrubs on its shores and forms shapes not to be seen anywhere else in Japan. Another beautiful sight is that of the swans in the Shidahama and Nagahama areas.