Hello, I’m Mio. Today, I’m going to share detailed information about the Zao Mountain Range, one of Japan’s most beautiful places, especially in autumn.

Basic Information about the Zao Mountain Range

The Zao Mountain Range spans both Yamagata and Miyagi Prefectures. It is famous for its stunning seasonal landscapes, especially the autumn foliage that attracts many visitors. Zao is also well-known for its hot springs and ski resorts, making it a popular destination year-round.

Rich Nature and Highlights

The Zao Mountain Range offers beautiful natural scenery and a variety of activities. Here are some main highlights:

Okama Crater Lake

Okama Crater Lake is a volcanic crater lake known for its vibrant emerald green color. The lake was formed by volcanic activity, and its unique color captivates many visitors. In autumn, the surrounding trees turn vivid shades of red and orange, making the lake even more picturesque.

Zao Onsen

Zao Onsen is a hot spring area at the foot of the Zao Mountains. It has been in use for about 1,900 years and is famous for its sulfuric waters, which are said to have skin-beautifying properties. Relaxing in a hot spring after enjoying the autumn foliage is a wonderful experience.

Juhyo (Ice Monsters)

In winter, Zao is famous for its Juhyo, or “Ice Monsters.” These are trees covered in thick layers of snow and ice, creating eerie and fascinating sculptures. While this is a winter attraction, it’s worth mentioning because Zao offers different beauty in each season.

Hiking Trails and Walking Paths

The Zao Mountain Range has several hiking trails and walking paths where you can fully enjoy the natural beauty. Here are some popular routes:

  • Okama Hiking Course: This trail circles Okama Crater Lake, allowing you to enjoy the stunning views from various angles. In autumn, the colorful leaves reflecting on the lake create a magical scene.
  • Zao Echo Line Scenic Route: The Zao Echo Line is a scenic road that connects Yamagata and Miyagi Prefectures. There are many viewpoints along the way where you can enjoy the autumn foliage. You can travel by car or bus and stop at different spots to take in the scenery.
  • Zao Onsen Walking Course: This course takes you around the Zao Onsen area. You can enjoy the hot spring town’s atmosphere while also seeing the beautiful autumn leaves. It’s a great way to combine relaxation with sightseeing.


You can access the Zao Mountain Range from both the Yamagata and Miyagi sides. From Yamagata Station or Sendai Station, you can take a bus or drive to the Zao area. During the autumn foliage season, there are many tour buses available, making it easy to visit.


The Zao Mountain Range is a stunning destination with rich nature, beautiful scenery, and relaxing hot springs. In autumn, the mountains are covered in vibrant red and orange leaves, creating breathtaking views. I, Mio, am captivated by the beauty of Zao, and I hope you get the chance to experience it too. Enjoy your visit!

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