Kansai Scene Magazine
 

 

A hike like no other
Yatsubuchi-no-taki, Shiga

Located within the Hira-san mountain range in Shiga, the 14 kms Yatsubuchi-no-taki trail is one of the most daring and exhilarating hikes in Kansai.

Late last year, I participated in my first event with International Outdoor Club. The club's annual fall event was a two-day hike up the Yatsubuchi-no-taki trail to Buna-ga-take, a 1,214 metre mountain in Shiga. After leaving our overnight bags at the lodge in Gulliver Mura we headed directly to the Yatsubuchi-no-taki trail. Designated one of the One Hundred Best Falls in Japan, the waterfall that the Yatsubuchi-no-taki trail follows is actually comprised of eight major waterfalls (Uodomenofuchi, Shojigafuchi, Karatonofuchi, Osuribachi, Kosuribachi, Byobugafuchi, Kibunegabuchi and Shichihengaeshifuchi) and many smaller ones.

Lead by Koji-san, 23, adventurous hikers were soon using a series of ropes, chains, yellow handholds, and rickety old ladders to challenge the Yatsubuchi-no-taki trail. Before long, we passed the trail's landmark: a large stone at the pool beneath Osuribachi, bearing strange inscriptions that read, right to left, Yatsubuchi.

My fellow trekkers and I continued up the gorge following the flowing waters, crossing the log bridges and climbing over the boulders to Byobugafuchi. This is where the real fun began, as we had to rappel down a chain to the pool just below Kibunega- buchi, definitely the most impressive falls in the gorge. The chains aided us cross the rocks over the river and with the help of a ladder and more metal chains we triumphantly climbed to the top of the 50 metre falls.

As the climb levelled out, we crossed over a series of boulders, past the last major waterfall Shichihengaeshifuchi, and followed the trail towards Buna-ga-take, one of Japan's 200 Meizan (200 Famous Mountains). It was getting dark, and unfortunately we didn't have enough time to reach the summit. So, after a quick glance at Lake Biwa below, we headed back down the trail and returned to our base camp.

On day two we rejoined the Yatsubuchi-no-taki trail by hiking to the summit of Oishi from Gulliver Mura and then followed the ridge, traversing various minor peaks before descending Shishiga- tani to the famous Yamamomo-no-taki. The trail conveniently ended at JR Kitakomatsu station, and before we knew it we were seated on the special rapid train back to civilization.

During these two days in Shiga, we were well rewarded for all of our hiking, climbing, rappelling and determination with mes- merizing waterfalls, lush moss covered rocks, brightly coloured autumn leaves and outstanding views of Lake Biwa.

Although hiking in the Hira-san mountain range can be done year-round, the Yatsubuchi-no-taki trail can be done from early April to late November. In spring and summer the rocks across the canyon are covered with rhododendrons, fringe-bell, azalea and other wild flowers. In autumn, the bright autumn leaves offer colourful seasonal views. Unless you are an experienced ice-climber with proper equipment, it isn't recommended that you attempt this hike in the winter. Be aware that after heavy rain the water level is high.

Text & photos: Laura Markslag

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Ways & means

Getting there

From Osaka take the JR Tokaido-SanYo Line Special Rapid train to Omi-Takashima station or from Kyoto take a Special Rapid train on the JR Kosei line to Omi-Takashima station.

There are two buses at Omi-Takashima station that will bring you to different locations along the hike. The bus that goes to Gulliver Seishonen Ryoko Mura leaves Omi-Takashima station at 8:35am and 10:28am. It returns to the station at 3:46pm and only runs from April 1st to November 30th. From Gulliver Mura there are colour-coded maps to direct you to the hike.

The other option is a bus that goes to Hatake. This bus leaves Omi- Takashima at 7:39am, 8:59am, 12:13pm and 1:28pm. Get off at Kurodani (there is a small wooden hut next to the bus stop) and walk about 100m to a fork in the road and turn left. Continue through Kurodani village to another fork and take the right trail into the woods.

Maps

As there are many trails in this mountain range it would be wise to obtain a good map. The best map for this hike is Shobunsha's Hira-san-kei (number 48) in the Yama-to-Kogen Chizu Series. The Lonely Planet's Hiking in Japan (published 2001) guidebook offers a detailed description of the hike.

For more info

• Takashimacho Tourism Association 0740-36-8135
• Camping and other accommodations in Gulliver Mura www.city.takashima.shiga.jp/gulliver/access-f.html
• International Outdoor Club: www.iockansai.com