Nakatsu Gorge – Niyodo Blue 中津渓谷
Bios Ogata michi-no-eki
It is a national holiday and Bios Ogata is busy very early. We go for a short walk and watch the surfers, far away as the beach is very wide. There is also a flotilla of fishing boats arrayed with banners moving slowly, line astern.
Suddenly the lead craft breaks away, very fast, and turns around to head back towards the port. All the rest of the boats follow suit, turning in opposite directions alternately and heading back the way they had come towards the port. Clearly some kind of festival but too far away to figure out what it was all about.
Leaving the michi-no-eki we turn back up R. 56 towards Susaki, past Nabura Tosa Saga. As it is a holiday, the traffic is heavy, so we take the toll-free highway the last 30 kilometres. After picking up supplies in Susaki, we make tracks for the Nakatsu Gorge; famous for blue water.
Nakatsu Gorge – Niyodo Blue
On arrival, we allow ourselves to be guided into a car park. This is usually to be avoided but, here, the parking, to our surprise, is free. Pulling into the car park also meant we, luckily, avoided the chaos of trying to park slightly nearer the gorge.
At the entrance to the gorge, we are impressed by the rushing water and large rocks but, the higher up you go, the bluer the water and the larger the rocks. This is the beginning of the Niyodo River noted for the startling blue of its waters.
In the gorge itself, huge boulders block the course of the water which forms pools, (cliché alert) of limpid blue. Some of these boulders and the eroded sides of the gorge are of a very pink rock which contrasts with the blue of the water; very beautiful.
The overhead crags should not be overlooked, or perhaps “underlooked”. If you drag your gaze from the water upwards to the ominous overhangs of rock towering overhead, you start to notice the unmistakable signs of major rockfalls. So that is where all these huge boulders came from.
We wander up to the end of the easily accessible path absorbed in the magnificent chaos of boulders in the narrow gorge. After admiring the waterfall ‘Uryu no Taki’ at the limit of the path, we retrace our steps, having spent one and a half to two hours over what is a short walk. It is a place well worth a visit. Heartily recommended.
Agawa Sky Park
After the gorge and having picked up the car, we follow the ever-narrower road upwards to what is signposted as Sky Park. This, unexpectedly, turns out to be a paraglider practice area. We watch the paragliders and take a few pictures before heading off for Tosawashi Kougeimura michi-no-eki. This we have chosen due to its onsen.
On the way, we stop to at one of the famous Shikoku submersible bridges. These are bridges spanning the wide shallow rivers that are so minimal as to provide little resistance to the water when the river is in spate.
In this way the bridge does not impede the powerful flood water to an extent significant enough to be washed away. Of course, you cannot cross the river when it is in flood, but the wait is shorter than if the bridge were washed away.
These bridges, though famous, are necessarily minimal, so not much to see. The river, on the other hand is flowing placid and slightly blue. Large fish, and all sizes down to small, can be seen in the clear water.
Tosawashi Kougeimura michi-no-eki
On to Tosawashi Kougeimura michi-no-eki and its onsen. This is nothing fancy, just a good functional bath. The outside bath is tiny. For us, a handy place for a necessary wash. The toilet facilities are adequate, better than Bios Ohgata.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.