Shirataki Park is one of Ehime prefecture’s most famous spots for viewing autumn leaves! (It has also been selected as one of Japan’s top 100 autumn foliage-viewing locations.)
While autumn leaves color the mountains, the waters of several waterfalls including one over 80‑meters high flow down the mountainsides – See it all by hiking up the trail.
First you can enjoy a panoramic view of Shirataki Park. The view opens up from the parking area at the foot of the mountain. Halfway up, via the well-maintained trail, there is an observation area from where to view the vastness of Shirataki.
There is one rather interesting feature of this mountain trail.
Along the route there are benches, gazebos and other strategically located resting spots where charming stone statues of Yume warabe (‘dream children’) are placed to help ease visitors’ climbing fatigue.
According to the inscription on this stone monument, if you meet yume warabe on the way, they will allow you to “return to the heart of a child, and help you remember consideration and benevolence, the feelings of gratitude in their natural form”.
Even at this resting spot, where you have a view of the waterfall, you see the two nonchalantly placed yume warabe on the left of the trail.
Standing on the moss-covered wayside with their charming expressions… if you look a little closer at these Yume warabe, you can see that someone has left some acorns. Before you even notice, you’re smiling.
Enjoy some autumn leaf hunting with yume warabe peeking out from every corner!
Naturally, the landscape with the waterfalls and autumn leaves is sublime…
With the particularly splendid Medaki Waterfall as its centerpiece, Shirataki is actually the collective name for a group of 7 large and small waterfalls.
The 85 meter-high Medaki is elegantly divided into an upper and lower level – along with trees heavy with autumn leaves, its delicately elegant water flow can be seen at every turn along the trail.
This is the upper level.
And this the lower.
Ruri-hime, the wife of a feudal lord that once ruled this region, was a martial arts master.
However, when facing invasion from the Chosokabe-clan, the lord’s castle fell despite putting up a good fight with blow darts and shuriken. Ruri-hime escaped from the castle to Shirataki. Cornered by her pursuers, she threw herself into the waterfall while embracing her 2-year-old son, the heir. It really is a sad legend…
An illustrated version of the legend can be found on signs alongside the mountain trail.
While enjoying views of the waterfalls and autumn leaves, we soon arrived at the observation area halfway up the mountain. As well as a rest area, there is a small restaurant called Momijitei.
And of course, even in the corner of the observation area, there is a smiling yume warabe welcoming you.
This is the view stretching beneath your eyes from the observation area. The forest of burning red and a landscape of mountains lined up one after another is a sight that condenses the beauty of the Japanese autumn season into one.
One of the last places that leaves change color, even within the Seto Inland Sea area, Shirataki Park is one of the most famous places for viewing autumn leaves.
The best time to see the autumn leaves at park is from the middle to the end of November.
How would you like to meet the yume warabe, and return to “the heart of a child”?
Location: Shirataki, Ozu city, Ehime prefecture
Guide homepage (Japanese, some content in English):
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Hironobu Matsuoka
Hironobu Matsuoka / Photo-writer Born in 1974 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and currently living there, Hironobu is the president of Mediapolis Inc. "I travel around the country in Solar King, an eco-camping car that has a solar power generator, and film the beautiful scenery of Japan in high-definition. I want to move around the country as much as possible and leave behind videos of precious Japanese nature and scenery for future generations to enjoy. Although I travel all over the country, I love my home area of Setouchi." 'Healing Japan TV' - Traveling virtually around the country through 'healing videos'.
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