Hiroshima is home to Sandankyo Gorge, a picture-perfect site showcasing Mother Nature’s beauty, and a must-see tourist spot for anyone travelling to this region. Discovered by photographer Nanpo Kuma who introduced this site to the rest of the world in 1910, the Gorge has been a certified National Special Place of Scenic Beauty since 1953.
Sandankyo Gorge stretches for 13km along the Shiwagigawa River in northwestern Hiroshima through some of the most beautiful scenery in the region. The gorge is home to waterfalls, streams, deep pools, huge boulders, forests, ravines, cliffs, hanging bridges and jungle. You can even see Mt. Osorankan from a distance, which is the highest mountain in the Hiroshima and Shimane prefectures. The ideal time to visit Sandankyo Gorge is from the end of April to the end of November, as it experiences heavy snowfall during the winter season. If you visit during autumn, you will be able to see the fiery fall foliage all around the Gorge.
Sandankyo Gorge has five famous spots that are popular with visitors: Kurobuchi, Sarutobi, Nidandaki Falls, Sandandaki Falls and Mitsutaki Falls. Kurobuchi is a pristine pool that features sparkling emerald green water. There is also a small tea house called Kurobuchi-so across the river – accessible via a five-minute ferry ride (return trip is ¥500) – that serves local delights like freshly-grilled landlocked salmon and rice balls cooked with fresh water from the gorge.
Sarutobi is a deep, narrow passage with valley walls ranging from 2m to 10m high that leads to Nidandaki Falls – some points where the peaks of the valley walls meet are only a few meters apart.
Nidandaki Falls is a pretty two-tiered waterfall; the only way to see this is by boat, which travels between rock walls as high as 20m in order to get there. About 30 minutes away is Sandandaki Falls, which is a three-tiered set of waterfalls that is a popular spot to experience fall foliage in autumn, when the walls are painted in hues of red and yellow – it’s also the largest waterfall in Sandankyo Gorge. Mitsutaki Falls is the final waterfall within the Gorge before the river’s end at Hijiri Lake.
On a day trip from Hiroshima City, start from Sandankyo's front gate to Kurobuchi pool and back along a paved walking trail, passing the Shimai waterfalls along the way. This 2.7km trail takes about an hour (one way) to complete. You can opt to board a ferry to cross over to Kurobuchi-so, where you can enjoy local cuisine, and visit Sarutobi.
The entire trail through the Gorge stretches to 12km, which can take up to five hours one way to complete, as you walk from the entrance of the Gorge all the way to Hijiri Lake. Along the way, you will encounter three waterfalls, river crossings, as well as several bridges.
Boat tours are also conducted regularly to give you a different impression of the gorge – the ride is between Kurobuchi and Sarutobi. You can also rent canoes to explore the gorge at a slower, quieter pace.
At the end of your trip, you can head to the Sandankyo Hotel (located at the entrance) to relax with a dip in the onsen or even spend a night there.
Spending time – whether on a boat ride or a walk – at Sandankyo Gorge is a refreshing day-trip to get away from the hustle of city life, and gives you a chance to soak up some gorgeous natural scenery along the way.
The easiest way to get to the gorge is by taking the express bus from Hiroshima City for ¥1,440 (one way) from platform #7 and get off at the last stop. The bus journey is around 80 minutes, and bus tickets can be purchased from the Hiroshima Bus Center.
To make the most of your day trip, you can take the 8:18am express bus from Hiroshima, and return via the 3pm departure from Sandankyo.
Access to Sandankyo
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