fbpx asd
    • Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
      • the nomad pasche family

        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
        adventure travel world summit in hokkaido

        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
        mead brewing in japan

        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
        the knights in white lycra

        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
        sea to table yamagata

        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
      • Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokka...

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
        togari onsen outdoor japan

        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
    • Travel
      • Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Lifestyle for Longevity...

        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

        Ryukyu’s Mountain Turtles – Interview wi...

        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Lifestyle for Longevity...

        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

        Ryukyu’s Mountain Turtles – Interview wi...

        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Races and Events
      • sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

        Winter News and Notes

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2024!
        dd4d brewing

        DD4D Brewing

        In nearly e...

Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

Imagine a valley with a river so clean, it’s one of the last remaining homes to a mystical-like creature: the Japanese giant salamander. Researchers from all over Japan visit Sandankyo Gorge in central Japan to study this near-extinct amphibian. The fully aquatic salamander can grow up to one-and-a-half-meters long and live up to 80 years, but due to its size and lack of gills, it is confined to fresh, flowing water with an abundance of oxygen. Unfortunately, pollution, dams and general urbanization have drastically decreased their habitat and numbers. The giant salamander is federally protected today. 

“We see various sizes of giant salamanders here in Sandankyo Gorge, which means it’s a breeding ground and, therefore a very clean, natural environment,” says Hisachika Kobayashi, a nature guide and kayak instructor. The nocturnal creatures are shy and tend to stick to the river floor, plus their mottled camouflage makes them hard to distinguish. If you’re lucky, you might spot one while swimming or kayaking. 

For those wanting to get a more in-depth experience (and possibly a greater chance to see these salamanders in action), the non-profit organization Sandankyo Ota River Study Group holds environmental workshops and sawanobori (shower climbing) tours. Learn more here.

Sandankyo Gorge is a little-known outdoor mecca in central Japan, usually overseen by travelers visiting Hiroshima’s landmarks such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Atomic Bomb Dome just an hour away. The gorge is part of Akiota Town, which was designated as Hiroshima’s first Forest Therapy Town in 2012. Today, the residents take great pride in their conservation efforts, from strict fishing regulations to their forest therapy education and programs. In winter, people from surrounding prefectures flock to Osorakan Snow Park, one of the biggest ski resorts in the region. 

“Originally, I moved to Akiota for snowboarding—yes, it snows here in Hiroshima!” says Kazuhisa Hamaguchi, a forest therapy and snowshoe guide. “It doesn’t snow as often compared to up north, but when it does—usually twice or three times a year—backcountry snowboarding on Mt. Shinyu almost makes me feel like I’m riding powder in Niseko or Hakuba.” 

But what really drew Hamaguchi to stay was the green season.

“The outdoors easily became my backyard,” he says. “From spring to autumn, I can easily go on hikes, enjoy the river, go fishing or camping, and of course, go on shinrinyoku walks.”

Shinrinyoku (forest therapy) is less about hiking to a destination and more about enjoying the journey, walking slowly and immersing yourself in the forest and feeling with all your senses. It started in Japan in the ‘80s and has been praised for its physical and mental health benefits by providing exposure to phytoncides, natural substances released by trees that ward off germs. Research has shown that even just a half hour of forest therapy relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity and alleviates tension and fatigue. In fact, some healthcare systems around the world cover forest therapy as part of mental care. 

There are several forest therapy courses in Akiota, the two main ones being Mt. Shinyu, a three-kilometer gradual uphill trail, and Sandankyo Gorge which leads to several waterfalls including Nidan Falls. 

“Nidan Falls is special for us because we can get to experience it up close, and also it’s hidden away because there are no walking paths to get there,” says Ryosuke Uchida, a pack raft guide. 

To get to Nidan Falls, you’ll have to either pack raft or ride a ten-person wooden boat through a narrow passage. Moving the boat is no easy feat, as the boat master has to pull a series of ropes strung throughout the passage like telephone wires. A standard oar or paddle won’t work here for a boat this size as the river floor is very deep. The trip costs ¥500 for adults and ¥300 for children. 

Another recommended forest therapy course starts at Osorakan Snow Park, or rather Osorakan Ecology Campsite in summer. The therapy road is less than four kilometers long. Back at the base, you can enjoy camping, ziplining and a sauna. 

Although faced with a decreasing population, Akiota works with elderly craftsmen and farmers to provide cultural experiences and educational workshops for the next generation. Before Akiota Town started placing its efforts on outdoor recreation, it was primarily a farming and logging village, from which arts and crafts arose. Temple and shrine carpenters who worked on Miyajima, Hiroshima’s famous shrine on the water, sourced their wood from this region and passed down woodturning skills. Today, Fumio Yokohata, one of the descendants of these craftsmen, continues a nearly 200-year-old tradition at Yokohata workshop carving spoons. He’s been carrying on the wood carving tradition for 70 years. Visitors can participate in a spoon making workshop and bring back a homemade souvenir (¥5,000 for the workshop). For more information, visit their website here.

Nestled along a road just behind the workshop is Yokohata Farmstay run by a charming couple, Masami and Ryoko Yokohata. Guests can harvest vegetables and learn Japanese cooking using ingredients from the farm. Depending on the season, you can also try your hand at mochi making.

“We want our guests to feel like they’re coming home, in the same way we greet our children and grandchildren when they visit us,” says Yokohata. 

Not to be missed is kagura, a Shinto ritual dance often performed at small shrines and festivals. Kagura is a combination of dramatic dances, elaborate masks and costumes accompanied by powerful music, usually retelling a mystical tale with warriors fighting oni (demons). Akiota is still home to sixteen kagura groups.

Sandankyo Gorge and Akiota Town can best be enjoyed over three or four days and recommended for travelers who want to get a bit of outdoors and local culture while passing through Hiroshima or heading down to Shikoku. For more information or to book experiences and tours, visit Akiota Town’s website.

Accommodation

There is a variety of places to stay depending on your budget and comfort level. 

Sandankyo Hotel
This ryokan-style hotel at the entrance of Sandankyo Gorge features locally-sourced Japanese dining and onsen (hot springs). ¥11,650 for one night with two meals.

Ikoi no Mura Hotel
This unfussy hotel at the base of Mt. Shinyu has Western and Japanese rooms and serves Japanese-style dinner (and the occasional Hiroshima oyster). Onsen are available for daytrippers as well. ¥13,750 for one night with two meals.

Irie Minshuku
Irie Minshuku is a simple lodge with home-cooked Japanese food and a shared shower and bath. ¥8,000 for one night with two meals.

Hajimari no Ie
This self-contained, modern house is catered for guests looking for long-stays (one-week minimum stay requested) and is perfect for a “workation.” Equipped with a shared shower, bath and kitchen. Exceptions can be made for business travelers on shorter stays. Inquire Akiota town for prices.

Nukui Dam Resort
This pet-friendly glamping site is located at Nukui Dam and features a dog run park, go-karting, Segways, pizza making and a free voucher for the nearby Tsukigase Onsen hot spring. Accommodation packages start from ¥15,000 per person. 

Osorakan Ecology Campsite
Cabins and BBQ facilities are available at this campsite at the base of Mt. Osorakan. Sauna, hot shower and camping rentals (sleeping bags, sleeping mats, blankets and BBQ rentals) available upon request. Cabins start from ¥5,000 per night. 

Getting There

Public transportation in Akiota is limited, so it’s best to rent a car from Hiroshima Airport and drive to Akiota (90 minutes). Alternatively, if you are already in Hiroshima City, take bus #75 heading to Sandankyo Gorge from bus stop 7 at the Hiroshima Bus Center.ϖ

[novo-map id=2 individual=”yes”]

Outdoor Japan logo tree

Related

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest posts

Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Li...

Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

Kumano’s Path Less ...

A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

Okinawa Forest Adventure

Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

Categories