Tamagawa Onsen to Goshogake Onsen - Milk Lake Hike

From Akita Wiki

From the Tamagawa Onsen (玉川温泉) parking lot, walk past the actual onsen and the sick and elderly lying on the steam-emitting rocks. You'll see signs for some mountain (can't remember the name) and Goshougake Onsen (後生掛温泉). The hike starts off well enough with well manicured steps, but those quickly vanish.

The hike is about 8km and will take about 3 to 4 hours one-way. While it's never terribly steep (it's kind of steep at times, though), it's best to travel lightly. It can get pretty rocky and slippery. At the summit between the two onsen (again, can't remember the name) there's a beautiful lake full of milk. As I made my way down there for a refreshing sip, an older gentelman yelled something from the peak. I couldn't quite make out what he was saying, but I assume he was trying to warn me of the well-preserved fox in the sediment, which he thought was still alive.

The descent is of course much nicer than the ascent. However, as you near Goshougake Onsen, it gets fairly rocky and slick. You'll probably get a little dirty, but what the hell, you're going to an onsen. When you arrive at the final destination, either take a soothing bath in the sulfuric waters, or go for a nice stroll through the bubbling mud pits.

If you want to spend the night, you have two options:

  • Take a lightweight tent with you and camp at the nearby campground (or somewhere else, illegally, for free).
  • Pay about 2,500 yen (onsen included) for a spot on the nice ondol-heated floor. I took a sleeping bag and pad, but I'm sure they rent out futons. They have normal ryoukan-style rooms too, but I'm not sure of the price. For those of you who love nothing more than night photography, take along your tripod for some sweet, steamy shots.

If you don't want to spend the night, you have another two options:

  • Hike back.
  • Catch a bus back to Tamagawa Onsen. I'm not sure how often they run, but I spent the night and had no problem catching one in the morning.

See also