History of Oirase

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Start of Oirase Sightseeing

A forestry road was opened along Oirase Stream in 1903 upon the request of a village headman in Ho-okusawa Village (former Towadako Town, consolidated into the present Towada City), Koichi OGASAWARA. It was five years later that a travel writer, Keigetsu OMACHI first visited this place, being invited by the chief editor of the magazine/journal Taiyo, Shuntei TOYABE from Gonohe Town. Being fascinated by the grandeur and the beauty of Oirase’s nature, Keigetsu published “Ou Ishuki (Round Ou Region)” in the magazine Taiyo. This made Lake Towada & Oirase, formerly unknown places, widely known nationwide. At that time, Keigetsu had such a large influence that Imperial Prince Yoshihito (the future Emperor Taisho) was pleased to ask the then Aomori Prefectural Governor, Chiyosaburo TAKEDA, about Lake Towada. Being unable to present a satisfactory reply to the questions asked by the prince, governor TAKEDA went on an inspection tour and saw it with his own eyes. Later, “A Principle of Conservation of Towada” was announced by the governor, which enhanced motivation to make this place a national park. These three people, Chiyosaburo TAKEDA, Koichi OGASAWARA, and Keigetsu OMACHI, worked towards the designation of this place as a national park throughout their lives. In honor of their achievements, “A Bronze Statutes of Maidens” was later sculpted by Kotaro TAKAMURA.

 
 
Keigetsu OMACHI

The designation as a national park, however, was not advanced, due to a confrontation between the Ministry of Forestry, aiming to use water resources from Lake Towada for power generation and irrigation, and the Department of Home Affairs, attempting to designate the place as a national park. Twenty-four years after TAKEDA’s announcement of “A Principle of Conservation,” Oirase and Lake Towada finally were designated as a national park. This was the last resort after consultations between the Department of Home Affairs, which was proposing nature preservation and seeking coexistence between the protection of scenery, power generation, and irrigation, while the Ministry of Forestry continue arguing against development. The designation as a national park was the result of a compromise that nature should be utilized and preserved at the same time. However, it was an epoch-making conclusion in an era when resource development was prioritized. Today the national park celebrates its 80th anniversary, while the subtle balance between the use of nature and its preservation is well-maintained even today.

○ A Chronological Table

The Christian Era
(The Era Name)

Events

In 1903
(Meiji 36)

・The forestry road passing alongside Oirase Stream began (in July), conducted by the Aomori Obayashi Ward Division (regional forestry office).
・The section between Yakeyama and Nenokuchi was completed (in September).

In 1908
(Meiji 41)

・Keigetsu OMACHI first visited Lake Towada and Oirase on excursion with Shuntei TOYABE.
・Keigetsu published “Ou Ishuki (Round Ou Region)” in the magazine Taiyo.

・Chiyosaburo TAKEDA was inaugurated as the Aomori Prefectural Governor.

In 1909
(Meiji 42)

・Keigetsu OMACHI put “Towadako (Lake Towada),” a revised edition of “Ou Ishuki (Round Ou Region),” into a collection of writings entitled Koun-Ryusui (Floating with the Tide).

In 1910
(Meiji 43)

・The road along the stream between Yakeyama and Yasumiya became a prefectural road.

In 1911
(Meiji 44)

・Chiyosaburo TAKEDA inspected Lake Towada.

In 1912
(Meiji 45)

・Chiyosaburo TAKEDA published “A Principle of Conservation of Towada” in the Tonippo newspaper’s first year.

In 1913
(Taisho 2)

・Chiyosaburo TAKEDA issued “Towadako Annai Ryaku (Brief Guidebook of Lake Towada)” and retired from being governor.
・Excavation work for making Towada Doro (Towada Road) began, and was completed the next year.

In 1916
(Taisho 5)

・Lake Towada and Oirase Stream were designated as a protection forest for scenic beauty by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

In 1920
(Taisho 9)

・Aomori Prefecture delivered a petition to the Department of Home Affairs for the designation of Towada National Park.

In 1922
(Taisho 11)

・Chiyosaburo TAKEDA issued “Towadako (Lake Towada).”
・Motorway construction from Sanbongi to Nenokuchi was completed.

In 1923
(Taisho 12)

・Keigetsu OMACHI was asked by Koichi OGASAWARA to draft a petition for Towada National Park.

In 1925
(Taisho 14)

・Keigetsu OMACHI made a draft for “A Petition for a Designation of National Park centering Lake Towada.”
・Keigetsu OMACHI died at Tsuta Onsen (Tsuta Hot Spring) at the age of 57 years.

In 1927
(Showa 2)

・Koichi OGASAWARA died at the age of 60 years.

In 1928
(Showa 3)

・Lake Towada and Oirase Stream became a Nationally Designated Natural Monument and Scenic Beauty.

In 1931
(Showa 6)

・Hokusawa Village was renamed Towada Village.

In 1932
(Showa 7)

・Lake Towada was selected as a candidate site for a national park.
・Chiyosaburo TAKEDA died at the age of 65 years.

In 1934
(Showa 9)

・National Park designation of Lake Towada was shelved due to a confrontation between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry over utilizing lake water. 

In 1936
(Showa 11)

・Lake Towada National Park was designated.

In 1940
(Showa 15)

・Construction of the Towada Power Plant began.

In 1943
(Showa 18)

・In Towada Power Plant started operation.

In 1952
(Showa 27)

・Lake Towada and Oirase Stream were raised to a higher status as Special Places of Scenic Beauty.

In 1955
(Showa 30)

・Towada Village was renamed Towada Town.

In 1956
(Showa 31)

・Hachimantai area was added to the national park to become Towada Hachimantai National Park.

In 1961
(Showa 36)

・Development project of the Oirase Stream path began.

In 1967
(Showa 42)

・The Towada-Hakkoda Area was designated as a Special Protection Area within the National Park.

In 1975
(Showa 50)

・The path along the Oirase Stream (between Yakeyama to Nenokuchi) was completed.

In 1979
(Showa 54)

・Ishigedo Rest Area was completed.
・Towada Town was renamed Towadako Town.

In 1982
(Showa 57)

・Route 102 Oirase Bypass construction started (between Yakeyama and Nenokuchi)

In 1993
(Heisei 5)

・Osaka River was renamed Oirase River (the name of rivers between Lake Towada and the Pacific Ocean were unified into the Oirase River).

In 1997
(Heisei 9)

・Oirase (Sobe) Bypass was opened.

In 2003
(Heisei 15)

・The first traffic regulation on private cars to Oirase Stream was implemented.

In 2005
(Heisei 17)

・Towadako Town merged with Towada City.

In 2013
(Heisei 25)

・Oirase Stream was designated as the nation’s 19th “Japan’s Precious Forest” by the Bryological Society of Japan.