As winter grows closer, the autumn colors grow deeper and more vibrant. In this article I’m going to introduce some highly recommended spots for viewing the autumn colors in Nishikicho, Iwakuni City, which is found in the eastern part of Yamaguchi Prefecture and is home to some of the most pristine rivers and rich mountains in Japan.
Waterfalls & Autumn Colors in Jakuchi Valley
This is the beautiful scenery of Jakuchi Valley and its Jakuchi River. The source of the river is on Mt. Jakuchi, which at 1,337m is the highest peak in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The best place to visit during this season is the five Goryu-no-taki waterfalls. The combination of the waterfalls and the autumn colors is simply amazing. The series of falls starts with the 15m high Ryubi-no-taki. It’s found along a charming stretch of river that features large and small waterfalls, as well as rocks covered in a layer of vibrantly colored leaves, that have been formed into weird shapes by the strong current.
It’s difficult to take your eyes off the charming and constantly changing environment on the way up, but be careful not to slip on the steep, wet rocks! The trail continues on after you reach the top. It takes you to tunnels that were dug out by hand and meant for transporting timber on wooden sledges, and the remains of old shrines. The trail eventually ends at the Usa-Hachimangu shrine and a 1000 year-old giant cedar.
There’s also a natural spring along the waterfall trail that is perfect for those who need to quench their thirst or fill up their water bottles.
Address: 1388 Usa, Nishikimachi, Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Tel: 0827-74-0776 (Jakuchi Valley Tourist Information Center)
The Pristine River & Autumn Colors of Kidani Valley
While Kidani Valley is famous for being the location of the legend of Heike-no-Ochido (about the defeated soldiers of the Heike clan), it’s also well known for its fantastic autumn scenery. So fantastic in fact, that it also goes by the name of Momiji Valley (Autumn Colors Valley).
It can offer spectacular scenes such as this where the scarlet colors of the leaves are reflected in the clear waters of the pristine river.
A great thing to do here is simply to go for a walk. Only a few minutes from the valley entrance is a parking area and a superb start to the course. Just a minute away from there is a natural spring with amazingly delicious fresh water streaming out, the perfect place to fill up your water bottle!
The autumn colors had just started appearing the day I visited, but already many people were walking in the area. In addition to the autumn leaves, visitors flock to see the 40m tall Shikaochi-no-Taki waterfall and a large peculiarly shaped rock called Himeiwa. Lastly, creating a picturesque scene, Kidani-no-miyamomiji is a magnificent maple tree that stretches its long branches out over the river. With roots some 5m in diameter, the tree is 15.5m tall.
Address: Nishikimachihirose, Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Tel: 0827-72-2110 (Nishiki Area Promotion Department General Branch Office)
A Spectacular View From the Fukatani Valley Bridge
The deep V-shaped Fukatani Valley extends into the prefectures of Yamaguchi and Shimane. From the whopping 93m high Fukatani-Ohashi bridge, you can behold the valley in all its fantastic autumnal beauty. Traversing the bridge – which towers 80m over the river – is not for the faint of heart, but the reward is definitely worth it, so please muster up the courage and give it a try for yourself!
Further upstream there are other spectacular sights such as the Fukatani-no-taki and Dodo-no-taki waterfalls, and Nagase Valley. The magnificently rich nature of the forests and mountains of the area is further enhanced by the pristine water from the natural springs streaming through. Nishikicho shows its best side at this time of year, so please do come and experience this breathtaking natural environment.
Address: Prefectural Road 16, Nishikimachiusago, Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Nishikicho, Iwakuni City
Nichikicho lies between the mountains of Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. Its many deep mountains are home to pristine rivers such as the Jakuchi and Usa Rivers, and those who visit its hot springs or camping sites can experience the changing of the seasons firsthand.
Iwakuni City Tourism Promotion Department homepage: http://kankou.iwakuni-city.net/
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Nana Takei
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