April 22nd. 2023
Michi no eki San Eight Mito
Michi no eki San Eight Mito provides us with a good night. There are no other guests, and the facilities are reasonable. Although very close to the road, there is no traffic so this is not an issue. It is not a popular shachuhaku (sleep in a car) spot but it is a possibility.
From the michi no eki we set off for Sandankyo. This gorge has been a very famous tourist attraction from perhaps Taisho times. We were debating whether to climb Mt. Shinnyu or walk the gorge, both start from essentially the same place. The weather is bright and sunny but with a strong, chilly wind. Surprisingly the distance is very hazy, so we opt for the gorge.
On arrival, we are sure it was the right decision. Mt. Sinnyu looks dull as all the vegetation is burnt off every April. The gorge, we discover also has its problems as parts of it are closed.
Mizunashi to Nidan-taki
From Mizunashi-guchi, where there is a 500-yen car park, we first walk towards Nidan-taki which takes about 30 min. On arrival at Sarutobi the point from where it is necessary to take a short boat trip to view the falls, (this we knew) what we didn’t know was that no boats were in operation. There is nothing to see but a closed-up boat station. Retracing our steps to the Mizunashi parking area we set off, downstream this time, to Kurobuchi.
＊Later we found out the boat operate from May 1st. to November.
Kurobuchi is another 3 kilometres and here again a boat ride is necessary to view the main objective.
Once more we are out of luck as the boat station is battened down. This is because from Kurobuchi to Aka-daki (about 1km. from the main entrance- Sandankyo Shomen-guchi) is cut off by a landslide caused by heavy rain at 2021. I suppose the main tourist traffic arrives at the main gate, so these boat stations are unprofitable.*
＊Later we found out the boats operate from May 1st. from Friday to Tuesday.
So, although we walk about 13 kilometres in all, we do not view the main attractions. In those 13 kilometres we meet a total of 7 people. We were lucky is the sense that we could experience being alone deep in natural forest following an untamed torrent for many kilometres. The scenery was absolutely stunning. Torrents, dark pools, massive boulders fresh leafed trees and towering cliffs such as I have never seen.
At one point there was a sign saying “Yagen”, this is the Japanese term for chemist’s mortar in old days, the huge v-shape rock wall looks like Chinese ink paintings of impossible crags and precarious pines -such was the scenery.
The walk is along a concrete path so very easy though with a drop on one side and a cliff looming on the other. Truly a walk to remember. Maybe we will visit again to complete the walk.
Michi no eki Tsuwano Onsen and Ganjoju Onsen
From Sandankyo, we drive to Tsuwano to check the michi no eki for the night. Michi no eki Tsuwano Onsen is the first one we investigate. There are two within a short distance of each other. One in Yamaguchi, the other in Shimane prefecture. Tsuwano Onsen we have stayed in before. The toilets have been upgraded but lack a certain ambience, so we take a look at Ganjoju Onsen. This michi no eki is smaller though still quite large. The toilets offer the same quality but present it with more panache than Tsuwano. So, Ganjoju it is for the final night of this month-long trip.
＊Ganjoju Onsen ; 520 yen / adult
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.