Sunday, November 4, 2012

Autumn Destination: Sandankyo

The wind is cool, trees are changing color, night comes earlier. It's autumn.

During this season, the Japanese love to go on hikes for 紅葉 or viewing red autumn leaves. And one of the famous autumn hiking spots here in Hiroshima prefecture is Sandankyo (三段峡, Sandan Gorge).

Sandankyo is in Akioota-cho, Yamagata District in the northern part of Hiroshima prefecture. It is roughly a 2 and a half hour-bus ride from Hiroshima Bus Center by local bus (or 1 and a half hours by express bus). It is most famous for Sandantaki (三段滝), which is a picturesque 3-tier waterfall. You will see that most - if not all - hikers, local and foreign alike, bring their cameras, lenses and tripods in order to get a breath-taking shot of the waterfall. Not that the shots would need any editing - the scene is just beautiful in all its natural glory.

Sandantaki, framed with autumn colors.

Aside from Sandantaki, other famous scenic spots include Nidantaki (二段滝, 2-tier waterfall), Sarutobi (猿飛), and Kurobuchi (黒淵). Nidantaki, or 2-tier waterfall, is a 2 and a half hour-walk from the entrance to Sandankyo. The only way to reach it is by riding a boat through Sarutobi, which is actually a narrow stream sandwiched between high rocks where monkeys used to "fly" back and forth, thus the name Sarutobi (saru - monkey, tobi - fly/flight).

Nidantaki - Only 1 tier remains.
Kurobuchi is a "pool" that runs between two high cliffs. The water is said to be a clear, emerald green but it was rather murky when we went there. Probably because it rained the night before.

Anyway, you can ride another boat to the other side of Kurobuchi and continue on your hike, or you can walk along one of the cliffs and admire Kurobuchi from the top.

Hikers waiting for the boat that will take them to the other side of Kurobuchi.
Our hike lasted the whole day - we started the course at around 9am and we finished at 4 in the afternoon. Of course, we took breaks and some fun detours along the way, so those probably contributed to the length of our adventure.

This autumn escapade was truly enjoyable. The leaves were not as red as we expected them to be, but despite of that, the whole trip will be something I will always remember when I think of autumn.

So when you come by Hiroshima, why not spend a day hiking in Sandankyo and bask in the glorious beauty of nature?

For reference, we spent 2,400\ for the bus to and from Sandankyo. There are local and express buses bound for Sandankyo from Hiroshima Bus Center. Then we paid 700\ for the microbus that took us to the starting point of our hiking course, which is just 30 minutes from Nidantaki and Sandantaki. The two boat rides cost us 400\ for a roundtrip crossing in Sarutobi, and 300\ for a one-way ride across Kurobuchi.

For more details, visit Akioota Navi.

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