Saturday, December 10, 2011

Oyasukyo Gorge

On 5th November, hubby and I visited Oyasukyo Gorge located at the entrance of Kurikoma Quasi National Park in Yuzawa city of Akita prefecture. Oyasukyo Gorge has 60 meters high V-shaped cliffs that continue for about 4 kilometers. The gorge was formed as a result of erosion caused by the rapid currents of Minase River. The river flows through the bottom of the gorge and continues flowing along the base of Mount Kurikoma. The area is very scenic and well known spot for enjoying beautiful fresh green leaves during spring and colored leaves during autumn. There are many hot springs located in this mountainous area. Legend has it that the therapeutic quality of the hot spring water has cured many people and even animals since ancient times.

Oyasukyo Gorge is located about 90 kilometers southeast of our home and it took us 2.5 hours to reach there by our car. We reached the spot at 10.30 am and parked our car at a parking area. Near the parking area, we saw a foot hot spring called ashiyu where many visitors relaxed by plunging their feet in to the hot water. We skipped visiting this interesting foot hot spring.
I am standing at the car parking area

A sign with foot hot spring ‘ashiyu’ written on it

Visitors relaxing their feet in the hot water

We walked up to the entrance of Oyasukyo Gorge which is located near the car parking area. Then we had to walk down about 250 stairs to get to the walking path along Minase River. The views around us were really superb.
I am standing at the entrance of Oyasukyo Gorge

I am walking down the stairs

I am standing on the stairs and taking rest while descending into the gorge

Many more stairs to walk down

After about 15 minutes of descending down the stairs, we reached the walking path along the riverside. After walking along this path for a few minutes, we saw an interesting spot where hot water was bubbling out and steam was coming out from the cracks in the rocks near the riverside. The views around us were breathtaking and so scenic. We took a few photos of the wonderful views and compiled a video of the boiling water and steam coming out from the rocks.
Wonderful view to our left while facing Minase River

View right in front of us

View to our right along with the walking path

A compiled video of water bubbling out and steam coming out from the rocks

As we walked further on the walking path along the riverside, we saw a huge red bridge named Kawarayu over the gorge right above us. To our right, we noticed that hot water was steadily flowing out from many cracks in the cliff. I touched the flowing water and it was almost scalding hot. To our left, the emerald green river offered a beautiful view.
Kawarayu Bridge right above us

Water flowing out from the cracks in the cliff was really hot

Emerald green Minase River

After leisurely walking along the riverside pathway for about 25 minutes, we reached the best scenic spot named Daifunto and enjoyed the dynamic scenery up close. This spot is known as the symbol of Oyasukyo Gorge. At this spot, about ten tons of water as hot as 98 degrees Celsius gushes out fiercely from the cracks in the cliff and forms a horizontal geyser. In addition abundant amount of hot air and steam spews out violently. As we walked along the pathway, we were surrounded by hot and humid steam. There was a strong smell of sulfur everywhere around us. Such a dynamic sight made us feel as if the ground and cliffs were breathing. It was a remarkable experience. We took a few photos of the spot and compiled a video of the water spurting out from the horizontal geyser.
Steam near Daifunto spot

I am standing on the walking pathway

Hot water and steam gushing out fiercely from a crack in the cliff

It was very hot and humid and smelled strongly of sulfur

I am standing on the pathway with Daifunto spot in the background

Daifunto along with Kawarayu Bridge

A compiled video of the horizontal geyser at Daifunto

After walking further along the pathway for another 10 minutes, we noticed that Minase River became considerably narrower and many large rocks were scattered along the river course. After walking for a couple of more minutes, we saw that the stream of the river was hardly noticeable and only rocks could be seen.
Hubby walking along the pathway

River became narrow and many rocks could be seen along the river course

Stream of the river is hardly noticeable and only rocks are seen

At this point the walking pathway along the riverside ended, and we had to start climbing up the stairs leading us back to the car parking area. As we started climbing up the stairs, we reached another beautiful spot from where we got a fantastic view of the gorge lined on both sides by cliffs along with the river and rocks at the base. In addition, there were two waterfalls tumbling off one of the cliffs. The scene was so prefect and superb.
Gorge lined on both sides by cliffs along with the river and rocks at the base

Two waterfalls tumbling off a cliff

Hubby and the gorge

Me and the waterfalls

We, the gorge, and the waterfalls

We had to climb up almost 300 stairs to reach the car parking area. About halfway up the stairs, to our left we got a beautiful view of the cliffs, the river, and Kawarayu Bridge. To our right, we saw that the cliffs were rather steep as compared to our left side. In addition, we could enjoy autumn colored foliage although the colors had already peaked.
Beautiful scenery to our left as viewed from halfway up the stairs

Scenery to our right as viewed from halfway up the stairs

Autumn colors

Vivid autumn colors

A view from the top of the stairs

It took us almost 45 minutes to climb up the stairs. By the time we reached the top of the stairs, I was totally exhausted. So we took rest for some time. Afterwards we walked up to Kawarayu Bridge and leisurely walked across the bridge. From the midpoint of the bridge, we could look at the entire gorge, the river, and even the walking pathway along the riverside. We enjoyed the autumn colors also.
Hubby standing next to Kawarayu Bridge

Gorge and the river as viewed while looking to our left from the midpoint of the bridge

Hubby standing on the bridge

Me and the gorge

Gorge and the river as viewed while looking to our right from the midpoint of the bridge

The river as viewed while looking to our right from the bridge

Walking pathway along the riverside

Next we had lunch at a nearby restaurant. I had a bowl of rice cooked with various kinds of mountain vegetables. Hubby had a bowl of Inaniwa udon, a specialty of Yuzawa city. Afterwards we went to a souvenir shop located near the restaurant and bought a pair of cute ceramic owl couple as souvenir.
Our lunch

Hubby having Inaniwa udon

A pair of cute owl couple

We left the gorge area at 2 pm and returned back home at about 5 pm. It was really fun to visit Oyasukyo Gorge.


Arnab Maity said...

Lovely! Nice to see Japan through your lenses, will come back to check out all your stories


caroline said...

japan is so beautiful! thanks for sharing! just loved it!

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Arnab for your comment. Hope you enjoyed the virtual trip.
I will check your blog too.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Caroline for the comment. Yeah northern Japan has many natural beautiful places.