Up in the mountains of Shiobara..

Next week is Golden Week, a national holiday in Japan celebrating the birthday of the Emperor Showa and Children’s Day, so you’ll notice fish flags being put up outside homes all around town. Most businesses and schools enjoy a few days off for Golden Week. I’ve managed to have a nice relaxing long weekend, and next week I only need to work Monday and Friday. Sweet!

Yesterday I decided to go exploring again in Shiobara, which is around a half an hour drive up into the mountains. It actually reminds me a lot of the Lake District back home! There are a lot of onsens here (Japanese hot springs) which I can’t wait to try one day. The only fear I have with the onsens is that they are done completely naked, and there is a chance that you will see some of your students there! Not somewhere I want to be seen!

Shiobara mountain walk

We drove past some ranches and cheese gardens on the way to Shiobara. I even heard stories of monkeys jumping onto car bonnets whilst driving through the country roads! The walk around the mountains in Shiobara is really nice. I came here last week with a couple of friends, and we attempted to walk to the next waterfall. It was around a 4 km walk uphill, and we had to turn back halfway through as the weather started to turn a bit grim.

Mikaeri Suspension Bridge, Shiobara
A small waterfall by the suspension bridge

The suspension bridge was definitely worth a visit. The view from the bridge was pretty amazing. I’m planning to make another visit here in Autumn as I can only imagine it to be even more beautiful! Need to pick a good day to come here, and preferably when I’m fitter too! I want to see the other waterfalls!

After taking a short walk, we decided to make our way back to the car and we drove into Shiobara the town itself. It’s a tiny little town with a few cafes and restaurants. We passed a lot of onsen hotels on the way, as this is the place where a lot of people from cities like Tokyo go during the holidays for a city retreat. We parked up in the town and found what seemed to be a small shrine at the top of a cliff. As we made our way up, we realised that it was actually a famous cave in Shiobara called Genzan-kutsu.

The entrance at the top of the cliff

Legend has it that a warrior named Minamoto-no-Aritsuna who was part of the Yoshitsune clan, hid in this cave in the 12th century as a defeated soldier fleeing the enemy after the battle of Dannoura in 1185. He was later found by the enemy because of the milky water drained after washing rice in the waterfall of the cave and was killed.

Entrance to Genzen-kutsu cave
The waterfall inside the cave
Inside the cave

After walking through the cave, we decided to make our way back down to the town to get some food. Had a really nice walk along the river, although the weather was really cold. I love trying local food, and we went into a small cafe restaurant to have some udon and coffee. The curry was delicious!


By a small river in Shiobara
Curry udon at a small cafe restaurant

A nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Still a lot of Shiobara I want to explore, but I guess I have the whole year to do that! Looking forward to going to an onsen some day. Could do with a nice relaxing hot spring!

Happy Golden Week everyone!


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