OSOREZAN (恐山) / MOUNT OSORE
A desolate volcanic landscape covered in ashes, the smell of sulfur in the air, a lake of blood, signs warning visitors of poisonous pit vipers, and a name that literally means “Fear Mountain”; Osorezan may not be the most inviting place to visit! However, this mysterious mountain attracts many visitors from all over Japan and the world, due to its long history and the mystical aura that surrounds the site.
Osorezan was once referred to as Usori by the Ainu before being converted to Osore in the Japanese language. When Buddhism arrived to Japan, Osorezan became the site where the souls of the deceased move on to the next life.
The temples of Osorezan enshrine Jizo, the deity venerated as the guardian of unborn, aborted, miscarried, and stillborn babies, in addition to being patron saint of expectant mothers, women in labor, children, firemen, travelers, pilgrims, and the protector of all beings caught in the six realms of transmigration.
First go to Hachinohe Station in Aomori Prefecture
Osorezan is location on the Shimokita Peninsula, but to get there you’ll first need to reach Hachinohe Station. If you are coming from the south (i.e. Sendai or Tokyo), the only shinkansen or bullet train that reaches Hachinohe are the Hayabusa services on the Tohoku Shinkansen. If you’re coming from the north (i.e. Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto in Hokkaido), you need to jump on either a Hayabusa or a Hayate service train. If you are using local trains, you’ll need to ride the the Aoimori Railway Line (please note that this line is owned by Aoimori Railways and not JR East, meaning that your Seishun 18 ticket or JR Rail Pass is not valid). The exception to this is if you are riding JR East’s Hachinohe Line from Kuji City to reach Hachinohe (probably the most unlikely path to Hachinohe for most travelers).
Then go to Shimokita Station
From Hachinohe, you’ll need to switch to the local line. You will need to ride the Aoimori Railway Line, and either
- Ride the Aoimori Railway towards Aomori, get off at Noheji Station, then transfer to the JR Ominato Line and get off at Shimokita Station.
- At certain hours, Aoimori Railway and JR East operate a joint train that leaves Hachinohe Station and goes directly to Ominato. In this case, although the train is operated by two different companies, it is the same train and you will not need to transfer at Noheji. You simply need to get off at Shimokita Station. In either scenario, it will cost you 2480 yen.
Then take the bus up to Osorezan
Once arriving at Shimokita Station, proceed to the bus stop in front of the station and ride the bus for Osorezan (in Japanese written as 恐山). It will take roughly 40 minutes and cost 800 yen one way. The bus time schedule is listed in the link at the bottom of the page. Please keep in mind the time, as in some cases, there’s less than 10 minutes for you to transit between the train and the bus. In addition, there are few buses to and from Osorezan, so plan your trip accordingly!
If you are coming from Misawa, simply go to Misawa Station and take either the Aoimori or JR East train bound for Ominato. Shimokita Station will be the second to last stop. From there, take the bus up to Osorezan.
- Hyperdia – Use this site to plan which train you’ll need to use to reach Osorezan and Noheji
- Japanican – This is a site I often use to reserve hotel rooms. Although there are hotels in the Shimokita peninsula, I’ve generally used Hachinohe as a base, due to the larger number of hotels, and its function as a transit point to other points of Tohoku
- Bus Schedule for Osorezan (in Japanese, so just look for 恐山 (Osorezan) and 下北駅 (Shimokita Station)
- More on the history of Japanese Buddhism and Osorezan: