Monday, September 17, 2007

River Valley Walk - Shiobara, Tochigi

Map Location (very rough)

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So now we have a project to get to know Shiobara better and visit a lot of Onsen in the area. This is an excellent walk.


I can't locate this place accurately on Google Maps. Drive up the river on highway 400. Park in the carpark on the left before the first tunnel at the sign shown below. If you go through a tunnel you have just missed it. This corresponds with the downstream/right hand yellow dot on the above map.

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OK. Now its easy. Just walk down the hill, cross the suspension bridge and turn left and you will be on your way. (the path loops around to the right and you will be walking upstream.

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The walk is only 3.3 km., but its pretty steep and hard going. It starts off with a suspension bridge with great views. Then continues through beautiful rain forest. There are fantastic views of the river all the way along and a good waterfall at the end. Actually there is a nice picnic area at the end too.

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The downside of it is that once you complete the walk there are only two reasonable ways to get back to the start. One is to walk the return path which is a bit of a slog. Or you can walk back along the road. We chose the road and it was quite horrible but much faster. The traffic was especially intimidating on the narrow road. Next time I think we will walk the longer way. My admiration of Japanese elegance and love of beauty took a bit of a dent with the amount of rubbish that had been left by the side of the road too.

Afterwards we went up to our first main Shiobara onsen. We visited Green Village Onsen (Map Location). It was OK but nothing special. Then we walked along the river a bit and found some real outdoor onsens along the side of the track. You still have to pay to use them, but they are really very attractive. They are however mixed (only men there today).

More Shiobara pictures

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