Sunday, July 19, 2015

Taishaku-kyo Gorge

A couple of weeks ago, I went hiking in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and I had to share it with everyone because I had such a hard time finding a lot of information on it!

I don't remember how I first heard about Taishakukyo, but I went online to find out more about it and didn't have much luck. I found a couple of sites that had beautiful pictures and then maybe one paragraph about it that didn't really explain anything. I like adventures and exploring so I wasn't worried about trying to figure things out when I got there, but I do like to plan my day out so I can make sure I see and do everything on my list. Since the only thing that is really mentioned is the natural stone bridge though, my list was pretty short. Do some hiking and see this amazing stone bridge. Easy enough, right?

Two hours after getting on the road, my Google maps announced that my destination was on the right. Umm... that couldn't be since there wasn't really anything on my right and on my left was a small parking lot and what looked like a little udon restaurant. The good news was that I had seen a sign a few minutes before this so I knew I was on the right road at least. I drove on for a few more minutes and noticed a large parking lot on my right, but there wasn't really anything there. I'm thinking that the main entrance for this gorge would be pretty big and have some shops or a place where I could get some information so I keep driving. I get a little further up the road and I decided I should go back and check out the parking lot. There is a huge map there and what looks like the starting point for a hiking trail. I noticed on the map that there was a "Trail Center" not too far from this starting point so I decided this would be a good place to start. After hiking for about 15 minutes, I reached the Trail Center. Unfortunately, there wasn't anyone there and the only brochures they had were in Japanese. They did have maps though so I thought I could follow the map to find the main entrance that I was looking for.

Some pictures of what I saw when I hiked to the Trail Center -
The trail was pretty and there were a couple of awesome red bridges along the way!

I got back to my car and headed off in the direction I thought would take me to the main entrance. Did I mention I'm not good at reading maps? Yeah. My lack of map reading skills became an issue when, 30 minutes later, I still hadn't reached the main entrance. There's no way it should have taken that long. So, I pulled over and looked at the map again, but that just confused me even more. Then I tried to see if maybe the camp grounds near the main entrance would come up in Google maps, and they did! If only I had thought of that sooner! It took me back in the direction I came from and once I found the campgrounds, I was able to figure out where the main entrance was! Slightly frustrated about the wasted time, but so excited I had finally found what I was looking for!

There was a pretty large parking lot and a store with a small restaurant inside. This is what I expected to find at the main entrance. Since I lost some time trying to figure out how to get here, I didn't have a lot of time to waste so I parked and headed off to find the trail. Within a few minutes, I knew that this side of the gorge was going to be even more beautiful than the other side with the bridges (and I LOVE bridges!!)! I couldn't wait to explore and find the amazing natural stone bridge!

This was taken at the start of the hiking trail. Everything was really green and the water was so clear!

As I walked along the path, I saw some steps on the left that led up to something. It was a cave! Of course I checked it out, and it was so cool! There was a 250yen fee to go inside, but well worth it.

I continued on the hiking path and the scenery was so gorgeous that I couldn't stop taking pictures. Not sure how much of a workout I got with all of the stops, but I did get some beautiful shots!

See what I mean?? I could have stayed here all day!

After walking and stopping to take pictures for a few more minutes, I finally made it to the natural bridge. Wow! It was even more amazing in person!

My picture does not do it justice.

Since it was going to take me 2 hours to get home, I only walked for about 10 more minutes past the natural bridge and then I headed back. According to the map though, there is a waterfall further up the trail that I would love to see. I have also heard that this gorge is beyond stunning during in the fall so I guess this means I need to go back in the fall. Now that I know how to get to the main entrance though, I will definitely have enough time!

On my way back to the expressway entrance I realized that I had made a wrong turn when I got off of the expressway. If I hadn't turned when I did, I probably would have found the entrance to the gorge within 5 minutes of arriving. Google maps is usually great and gets me where I need to go, but this time it really failed me. There may have been a sign, but I was probably too busy chatting with my friend and didn't see it. Lesson learned for the next time I go somewhere I haven't visited before.

Here is the information I was able to gather. I didn't have time to explore the entire area like I wanted to so I am sure I missed a lot, but hopefully this will help you plan your own adventure to Taishakukyo gorge!

It does take about 2 hours to get there by car, and the tolls were a little over 4,000yen each way if you get on and off in Otake.
Address for the main entrance -
1940 Tōjōchō Taishakumido, Shōbara-shi, Hiroshima-ken 729-5244

Link to the pin on Google maps -

There are campgrounds available at a few different areas around the gorge. They also have log cabins and cottages for rent. I saw the log cottages when I stopped to grab some lunch and they looked really nice from the outside. For more information and to make reservations to stay in the log cottages, please call (0847)86-0535. I would recommend asking someone who can speak Japanese to call for you as I'm not sure if they have any English speaking staff available. There are Segways for rent too, but you have to make reservations at least 2 days in advance. Please call the same number to make Segway reservations. Across the street from log cottages is a nice little restaurant and shop. The restaurant serves up beef dishes made with beef from a local farm. There was a little playground there and tables outside with grills in the middle. You can order a BBQ plate from the restaurant with beef and vegetables, and sit outside to grill as you eat. To get to the area with the restaurant, cottages, and Segway rental, just type in the phone number and it will come up in Google maps.

There was also a fishing area at the main entrance.

Fresh air, beautiful scenery, and plenty of activities for the entire family to enjoy! Tasihakukyo gorge is a perfect spot for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

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