Explore Sandankyo during the different seasons to find all it has to offer, from hikes, waterfalls and boat rides to ryokans with traditional onsens!
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We have had two separate adventures to Sandankyo. Our first trip we stayed overnight at the ryokan located at one of the trail heads. It was late autumn, and we went to enjoy the beautiful changing of the colors. This past weekend we went for an afternoon hike in the middle of summer, when the gorge is cool and it is a getaway from the summer heat. Both trips left us loving the beauty of Sandankyo but we will tell you which season we liked best!!!
Fall in Sandankyo
Our first experience with a traditional ryokan (hotel) was our trip to Sandankyo. I didn’t know what to expect (we had not been in Japan for very long) but I was surprised that there were no beds! Of course there weren’t, this is a traditional ryokan!
Something else we didn’t really know to expect was how cold it was going to be. We hadn’t planned on hiking much the first day because we got there late, but being in the mountains the weather tends to be a lot cooler than down in town!
After we got checked in we saw some people that we knew that had been hiking that day. They had started their hike from a different trail and by the time they got to where we were, the sun was going down and it was getting really cold! Matt offered to give them a ride to their cars which was good because it started to rain and that would have been pretty miserable.
Pro tip: In the fall the sun goes down earlier and it can get cold really fast – be careful not to get caught unprepared!
Down the road a few miles there is a grocery store, a 7-Eleven and some small food booths on the side of the road. There is also a large park behind it all. We didn’t go to the park, but it was a landmark that I was able to recognize the next time we were driving in the area. We got our dinner here then some food for breakfast in the morning and headed back to the ryokan.
When we got back, our futons (beds) had been laid out for us! The room had tatami floors and three separate sections. When you walked in there was a sink, then you go up a step and there was a small section with a closet where our futons were stored. There was a door separating the next room where there was a Japanese-style table laid with tea for the afternoon. This table was moved to the side when they laid our futons out. The last set of doors led to the balcony, with a nice view of the bridge and river.
Seeing that we actually did have beds, we were ready to get cleaned up and ready to sleep! We donned our supplied yakata, or unlined kimonos, and headed for the onsen or public bath. As you may have noticed when I was describing the room, I didn’t mention a bathroom. For us, the toilets were just out of our room and down the hall. All bathing was done at the onsen. This was our first onsen experience; Royce and Matt went together and I went by myself since Jeannie was sleeping. After taking a quick and (extremely thorough!) shower to wash off we soaked in a large hot spring. It was warm, relaxing and a memorable experience to say the least!
The next morning we rose early and set out on a hike. Our primary objective was to make it to the Kurobuchi gorge. For Royce we used a backpack to carry him and we used our B.O.B. stroller to push Jeannie. We didn’t have any problems with the stroller, but B.O.B. strollers are extremely capable. As the saying goes, “Big wheels make small problems!” It was a pleasant walk along the river. It was so beautiful with all of the red, yellow, orange and green fall colors.
“Kurobuchi” means “Black Rim” or “Black Edge.” When we made it to Kurobuchi, we paid to take the boat across to the other side where we were able to explore a bit. This gorge provides one of the most famous scenes of a boat gliding through the river with high walls on either side and beautiful foliage. This was pretty much exactly what it was – but it was also a pretty short ride, and there were other people on the boat so it wasn’t as romantic as the pictures make it look! Make good use of the time you have on the water to soak in memories and take any pictures you want!
Once we got off the boat we were able to go to the restaurant there and eat some delicious soba noodles. The cool weather was great for hiking, and having some warm noodles was perfect!
The hike back went quickly because we didn’t stop as often to enjoy the scenery, and we were benefited by the downhill grade.
Overall we really enjoyed fall in Sandankyo. Now that the kids are older and actually like to hike, we will take another fall trip!
Summer in Sandankyo
It’s hot! Prepare for the heat. But as Matt found out, the water is nice and cool, so find a nice place and jump in!
This time, we knew we were hiking specifically to see Nidandaki Falls and Sarutobi, so we knew we weren’t going to be hiking super far. We were already in the area checking out Ini-no Tanada, the terraced rice paddies of Hiroshima. We got a bit of a late start leaving the rice paddies so it put us there after we would have liked, around 1 pm. Although it was warm and humid, it wasn’t nearly as bad as down in Iwakuni!
We parked in the parking lot and the trail was about 1 mile to the boat that took us to the waterfall. Royce surprised us by walking the entire way! Both he and Jeannie love to pick up rocks and sticks so I made sure to keep Jeannie in the carrier, otherwise it would have taken us at least twice as long with how often she would stop to pick up pebbles. Royce, however, loves to be first, so if he was ever stopping too much, we would just start walking a little faster and he would run ahead of us!
Sarutobi is a narrow gorge that is sobering to pass through, with tall walls so close together that monkeys can jump from one side to the other – “Sarutobi” means “Monkey Leap!”
The boat is pulled along ropes that are fixed to the cliff walls, and take you from one dock, where you board, to the “pier” in the dead end basin with an incredible waterfall at the center. This is Nidandaki Falls! Nidandaki means “Two-step” or “Two-tiered Falls.” You only see one tier now – some time ago, a powerful typhoon broke the upper step down completely!
The kids really enjoyed throwing rocks in the water while we appreciated the views. The hike is fairly flat, so it didn’t seem much more difficult hiking in or out.
The summer hike was great! I think if we had more time we would have loved getting in the water more, and that would make the heat more tolerable. Going earlier in the day would also be a good idea!
Both seasons have their pros and cons, but I think we would say we prefer the fall when hiking through Sandankyo!
Let us know which season you prefer when you go to Sandankyo!
Are you looking for another hike in the area? Check out Three Peaks!
If you are spending time in the area and really want to get the most out of Hiroshima, check out Magical Trips for a guided tour given by Hiroshima residents. Here are the reasons why I love the Hiroshima Peace Park Walking Tour:
- The familiarity that the tour guides have with the area and its history made our tour hit so much closer to home.
- After previously being “tour guides” ourselves at the Peace Park several times, I realize how much more meaningful it is having a local show us around. You don’t want to miss out on this tour!
- The day after the tour, I loved seeing all the pictures they took during the day – the candid shots they will take of you are great memories!
Plan your trip: