Release | nobu Kawashima
Enjoy the amazing view of Azalea in Kawayu from June to early July
You can view a group of Isotsutsuji, a kind of azalea, at “Tsutsujigahara” between Kawayu Onsen and Mt. Io. It is about 100 hectares and known as one of the biggest Azalea fields in Japan. There is also a trail from the onsen district, so it is easy to walk for everyone.
What is Isotsutsuji?
Isotsutsuji is one of azalea species which habit in mountainous areas of Hokkaido and Tohoku region. The tree is about 30 to 70 cm height, and small flowers gather and bloom at the tip of branches. The plant is very strong to severe natural environments and can survive on strong acidity soil, volcanic ash land, affected by the volcanic activities of Mt. Io.
▲When it is seen from a distance, it looks like a bunch of white balls. There were also stone pine flowers next to Isotsutsuji.
The white flower blooms from June to July. In Kawayu, its peak is around June 20, and we can observe the flowers until early July.
When we get near, it looks very pretty, and when we look it from a distance, we are amazed by the field filled with white flowers.
Where in Kawayu can we see the flowers?
The huge group of Isotsutsuji in Kawayu is in Tsutsujigahara, which is in between Kawayu Onsen and Mt. Io. There is a trail in Tsutsujigahara called “Tsutsujigahara Shizen Tanshoro (Tsutsujigahara Nature Trail)”, and it is easy for everyone to observe the flowers while taking a casual walk.
The trail is about 2.5 kilometers from Kawayuenchi in Kawayu Onsen District to Mt. Io. The trail is almost flat, has only 20 meters elevation gap from starting point to ending point, and there is no steep slopes or stairs. It takes about one hour for one way when we walk slowly, as we view the flowers.
▲Many Isotsutsuji blooms along the trail!
There are two observation decks en route. Especially from the terrace located right after the view changes from forest zone to Isotsutsuji zone, you can view the group of bright white Isotsutsuji in front of your eyes. It is a perfect place to take a rest and view the flowers.
▲It feels so nice to have lunch here when the weather is nice.
Check out the sceneries change drastically in only 2.5 kilometers distance!
Tsutsujigahara has a unique natural environment. The vegetation in the 2.5 kilometers long trail changes drastically affected by the volcanic activities of Mt. Io.
The coniferous forest zone, such as Japanese Picea, appears at Kawayu Onsen side, then broad leaved forest zone, and as we walk to Mt. Io, forest zone ends and enter Isotsutsuji zone, then stone pine zone appears.
▲The starting point is a mixture of coniferous forests and broad leaved forests.
▲In 10 to 15 minutes from Kawayu Onsen District, Isotsutsuji started to appear under the trees.
▲The collaboration of Betula's bright white stems and bright white Isotsutsuji flowers was very beautiful!
▲In about the halfway of the trail, tall trees disappear and Isotsutsuji blooms in the field.
▲After that, stone pine trees appear gradually and feels like I am at high elevation mountains. There were also Isotsutusji on foot.
▲The area close to Mt. Io looks deserted. I could feel the strong effect of volcanic activities, but Isotsutsuji even blooms in this environment, too.
As the scenery changes completely, Isotsutsuji flowers look slightly different depending on where it blooms.
In the forest zone, Isotsutsuji flowers look more wild, as it grows to get sunlight between the tall trees, but in the Isotsutsuji zone where fewer trees, they do not grow tall and spread close to the ground. In stone pine zone, Isotsutsuji flowers stick close to stone pine trees. It is also interesting to check such slight differences.
▲Isotsutsuji flowers bloom near the foot at the zone with fewer trees.
The best season to view Isotsutsuji in Kawayu is from June to early July. When you visit the area to view Isotsutsuji, you will be amazed by the group of bright white Isotsutsuji! In case you missed the season, it is interesting to look at different plants and visiting Mt. Io with steam is interesting, too.
▲Tsutsujigahara changes to beautiful autumn colors at the end of September! (The photo is provided by Kawayu Eco Museum Center)
The local guide volunteers are available in the early morning from June 10 to July 10 every year, so you can enjoy hiking while listening to detailed descriptions.
After enjoying the walk, you should soak into the famous Kawayu Onsen! Shower off your sweat and remove fatigue of your feet.
Text, photo / Hokkaido Likers photo writer nobu Kawashima