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The Sandandaki waterfall in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan.

The Sandandaki waterfall in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan. (Jonathan Snyder/Stars and Stripes)

Japan has some great outdoor hiking opportunities, and the Sandankyo Gorge in Hiroshima prefecture, with easy hiking paths and breathtaking views along the Yokokawa River, shouldn’t be overlooked.

Sandankyo Gorge in Hiroshima prefecture, with easy hiking paths and breathtaking views along the Yokokawa River, shouldn’t be overlooked.

Sandankyo Gorge in Hiroshima prefecture, with easy hiking paths and breathtaking views along the Yokokawa River, shouldn’t be overlooked. (Jonathan Snyder/Stars and Stripes)

The gorge has two main waterfalls to see. The Sandandaki waterfall is a 30-minute hike of nearly a mile from the parking area along a mostly paved path with some uphill sections.

Nidandaki, the second waterfall, is accessible only by a small boat service through a narrow gorge. The boat service costs 400 yen (about $2.75) per person and operates from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It’s worth planning your visit to use the boat service for the unique experience.

The Nidandaki waterfall in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan, is accessible only by a small boat service through a narrow gorge.

The Nidandaki waterfall in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan, is accessible only by a small boat service through a narrow gorge. (Jonathan Snyder/Stars and Stripes)

Going the opposite direction from the Mizunashi parking area is a 3.5-mile hike along the river that affords overhead views of rapids and pools of water.

About an hour into the hike, you will come across the Kurobuchi Lodge restaurant along the river. It’s the perfect place to stop and rest and enjoy fresh, skewered yamame — Japanese trout — along with udon or somen noodles while enjoying the river view.

The Kurobuchi Lodge is the perfect place to stop and rest and enjoy fresh, skewered yamame — Japanese trout — along with udon or somen noodles while enjoying the river view.

The Kurobuchi Lodge is the perfect place to stop and rest and enjoy fresh, skewered yamame — Japanese trout — along with udon or somen noodles while enjoying the river view. (Jonathan Snyder/Stars and Stripes)

Yamame skewers are salted and grilled over an open, charcoal flame. The lodge’s set meal comes with a rice ball, vegetables and miso soup for 1,000 yen (about $6.78). Thick, wheat udon noodles are served in a hot or cold broth with a fish cake and vegetables for 700 yen (about $4.75).

The Kurobuchi Lodge is the perfect place to stop and rest and enjoy fresh, skewered yamame – Japanese trout – along with udon or somen noodles while enjoying the river view.

The Kurobuchi Lodge is the perfect place to stop and rest and enjoy fresh, skewered yamame – Japanese trout – along with udon or somen noodles while enjoying the river view. (Jonathan Snyder/Stars and Stripes)

The restaurant is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and weather permitting has a boat service that takes passengers on a short, 10-minute ride in front of the restaurant that costs .

The Mizunashi parking area has a paved area with space for about a dozen vehicles and two larger, unpaved parking areas.

Sandankyo Gorge in Hiroshima prefecture, with easy hiking paths and breathtaking views along the Yokokawa River, shouldn’t be overlooked.

Sandankyo Gorge in Hiroshima prefecture, with easy hiking paths and breathtaking views along the Yokokawa River, shouldn’t be overlooked. (Jonathan Snyder/Stars and Stripes)

Before arriving at the parking area, there is a water-filling station marked with red flags along the road. Bring some refillable water bottles to fill up on this fresh mountain spring water; it’s free.

There is also an official Sandankyo app on Google Play and the Apple Store that offers English information along with a trail map with GPS functionality.

Hiking the entire trail system is a good day hike and will take about five hours to complete round trip.

On the QT

Directions: Matsubara, Akiota, Yamagata District, Hiroshima 731-3834

Times: The Sarutobi ferry run between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Kurobuchi Lodge restaurant is open daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Costs: The ferry to Nidandaki waterfall costs 400 yen per person. Parking in a Mizunashi lot is 500 yen for cars and 300 yen for motorcycles. Kurobuchi Lodge’s boat service is 300 yen for adults and 200 yen for children.

Food: The Kurobuchi Lodge restaurant offers hot and cold udon and soba, yamame skewers, somen, ice cream and shaved ice.

Information: Online: akioota-navi.jp/en/text/e_map_sandankyo_s.pdf

author picture
Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an aerial combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.

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