Located on the border of Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures, the Zao Mountain Range has been selected as one of Japan’s 100 most famous mountains. Okama Crater is a crater-lake surrounded by three mountains (Kattadake, Kumanodake and Goshikidake) and, along with its frost-covered trees, is an iconic image of the Zao Mountains. Nicknamed the “Cauldron” because of its appearance, Okama Crater is also known locally as “Goshikinuma” (the five-coloured pond) thanks to the changing hues of the water from dark green to blue according to the sunlight. The colours of the crater-lake also fascinate visitors as they change depending on the angle of view. The lake is a kilometre in circumference, 325m in diameter, and has a depth of 27.6m. There is no life in the lake due to strong acidity of the water.
The crater is accessible via a scenic drive along the Zao Echo Line, traversing the Zao Mountains from east to west, to the Zao High Line. The Zao Summit Rest House along the way offers a restaurant and gift shop with a splendid view of Okama Crater. The Zao Echo Line and Zao High Line are open from late April to early November. Please be mindful that these mountain roads are closed during winter.
There is an easy 10-minute trail from Okama Crater to the top of Mount Kattadake (1758m) where the Kattamine Shrine stands worshipping the incarnation of Zao.
The one-hour “Umanose” trekking path leading to Mount Kumanodake offers magnificent views of Okama Crater. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and suitable clothes.
* The roads and paths around the crater are subject to closure for safety reasons. Please refer to the Japanese Meteorological Agency’s website for the latest warnings.