Shirakami-Sanchi spreads between the border of Akita and Aomori prefecture. Yatate Pass locates itself in the easternmost part of Shirakami as an important and difficult point to pass for traffic.
Yatate Pass is the path between Akita and Aomori prefecture which is historically valued including the Yatate-Sugi (Akita's natural cedar). In addition, the old Ushū Kaidō (Meiji new road) has a history; 1877, it was opened to traffic; 1878, Isabella Bird, a British woman, travelled and wrote about it on her travelogue; 1881, the Japanese Emperor paid a royal visit; 1889, a stagecoach opened between Akita and Aomori. The old and new national highways No.7 are still in extant. As the triple heading steam-locomotive moves, the old Japanese National Railways tunnel and piers of the bridge come into our mind and reminds us of the past.
The forest area that represents the natural Akita cedar is owned mostly by the state. They are maintained as “Yasuragi-No-Mori” (Forest of Yasuragi/Forest of Peace) and “Yatate-Toge-HuuKei-Rin” (Yatate Pass Landscape). There are various kinds of outdoor activities such as local history explorations, nature study for elementary and junior-high school students, forest bathing and strolling with taking a bath in the local Onsens (hot-springs) when you promenade “Rekishi-No-Michi” (the Path of History)
The Natural Akita Cedar’ is considered as one of the most beautiful forests and it can be seen in Yatate Pass. It used to spread across the district but after the WWII, the Akita cedars were used for reconstruction and that the deforestation took place. Therefore, only a section of it remains today by the side of the National Highway No.7, and it is considered very rare and valuable.
There are several meanings for the Natural Akita cedar. However, it is mostly defined as the trees that are over 150 to 250 years of age.
These cedars have equal annual ring width, fine grain and high strength. Thus, it was used for construction material for a long time. Especially, it is used for hi-grade interior and ceiling board because of it fine grain. It is also used as raw material for Odate’s traditional crafts, such as, “Odate-Mage-Wappa” and “Akita Cedar’s barrels and tubs”.
The average age of the natural Akita cedars are said to be around 300 years old. It is also estimated that the larger it is, the older.
Nearby, there are many broadleaved trees, such as, oak, magnolia and Japanese horse chestnut. Their branches extend to the surroundings, but balances out with the cedar trees and it creates a beautiful harmony in the forest.
Designation and Selection
Reference Tohoku Regional Forest Office, Yoneshiro Tobu Forest Office
Yatate Promenade Walking map
◆Hirakawa Tourism Association ‘Path of History’
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