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KS Cover no. 72 2006 May

MAY 2006 :: 072


Awash with waterfalls

Akameguchi, Nara

Akameguchi offers one of the most beautiful hikes in the area around Osaka. The hiking path leads along a small stream with, so they say, 48 waterfalls — but who counts anyway? The place offers a calm atmosphere, lots of fresh air, stunning white water, emerald coloured pools of water and many opportunities to take photos. All in one very serene place.

Near the bus stop is a little shopping street where local specialties and souvenirs are sold. One of the delicacies is a hot little cake in the shape of a Ninja filled with a pumpkin mousse. Its very rich and very yummy. The entrance to the hike can be found by following the line of shops uphill and by turning right at a big hotel/onsen compound. The car park at the entrance gives an idea of the number of hikers that are expected during the hiking season. It is therefore not advisable to go there at the weekends or during the time when autumn foliage is in colour.

The ticket costs ¥300 and includes the fee for Akameguchi's salamander museum.

Here a large variety of different salamanders are held in little tanks and terrariums — amongst them the giant salamander, which can become longer than a meter. This is probably the only place salamander can be seen on this hike.

Leaving the museum/zoo the hike finally begins and leads after a couple of hundred meters to the first of the four big waterfalls.

A fragile looking bridge leads across the stream and steep up a rock which gives at first sight the wrong impression of a rather demanding hike. The path is in fact easy to walk if the weather has been good for the last couple of days.

The trail now meanders off in a slight uphill direction. At the second big waterfall a small restaurant provides a nice view off the slim stream of the waterfall. The visitor can enjoy the view while eating udon. The path is very narrow at times and there are some uneven steps up and down the rocks close to the stream. Good footwear is therefore recommended. On a week-day, when it is not crowded, it is a wonderful walk through nature which seems untouched either side of the trail. The water makes a sooth- ing noise, which is eased by the thick green of the trees. The fourth main waterfall lays 4km from the entrance and is definitely worth a visit. It is the widest waterfall and cascades down into a pool of incredibly green water.

Akameguchi is a great place to breathe fresh air, see some nature, and to get some light exer- cise. For those who like taking pictures, a tripod is necessary since the stream is mostly over-grown and therefore rather dark.


Text: Tanja Poppelreuter • Photos: Gary Quigg

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How toS, dos and don'ts

• The approximately 6km long hike is easily accessible from Osaka or even Nagoya. With the Kintetsu Line it takes only an hour and a half to Akameguchi. In Akameguchi a bus takes you directly to the start of the hike. The arrival times of the trains are not in sync with the departure times of the buses, but taxis are also available.

• Even though there are two little restaurants on the way to the end of the hike, their variety is limited and not of everybody's taste. It is there- fore recommendable to stock up with some water and a lunch.

• If it has been raining the hike may be closed since the water could be too high or the rocks too slippery.

• After the hike ends (at the top of the mountain) the hiker is forced to walk the same way back. The restaurants close rather early and after 4pm more people are going back to the entrance than are walking behind you. There are no lights on this trail and after dark it is perhaps not the safest place to walk.