Ecotourism Gaining Momentum at Oirase Stream in Aomori Pref.; Project Aims to Preserve, Utilize Natural Environment

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People stroll along Oirase Stream in Towada City, Aomori Prefecture.

TOWADA, Aomori — Momentum is growing this spring for the preservation and utilization as well as the promotion of tourism of Lake Towada and Oirase Stream in the city of Towada, Aomori Prefecture.

In March, the Lake Towada area was selected as a model project by the Environment Ministry to attract high-quality hotels to national parks. On May 19, the city became the first in the Tohoku region to receive government approval for its ecotourism promotion plan to preserve and utilize the valuable natural environment of Oirase Stream.

The city of Towada is now working to balance environmental protection and tourism, utilizing a collaboration between the government and academia.

The organizing committee for the Oirase Stream ecotourism project, which consists of organizations including Towada city, tourism businesses and nature conservation groups, compiled the overall concept for the ecotourism promotion plan for Oirase Stream, and it received certification from the Environment Ministry and other entities. It is the 27th place in Japan to be certified. The project covers the Oirase Stream and the Nenokuchi and Yakeyama areas along the shores of Lake Towada.

The project sets forth three basic policies: (1) the preservation of the natural environment, (2) the promotion of tourism and regional development and (3) the promotion of interaction between people and nature. Based on these policies, rules will be established for the natural environment, the use of the environment and the quality of ecotours.

The project aims to develop nature experience programs such as walking tours along mountain streams with local guides and frozen waterfall tours. Local guides and related organizations will also monitor the natural environment to preserve it for the future.