2015.5.19
Ehime Imabari City

Mt. Narabara: A Trip Back to Ancient Times to the Home of Hot Springs for Beauty & a Mysterious Forest!

Tamagawa-cho, Imabari city, Ehime prefecture.
One of Ehime’s best hot springs, Nibukawa onsen, is located about a 30-minute drive from Imabari city center.
Enormously popular even among locals, the alkaline hot spring with radon is known as a hot spring for beauties.
Actually, this area is called the enchanted land of Iyo, and now we’ll tell you about a spot we recommend you visit after enjoying the hot springs!

With its clear streams that have been selected among Ehime’s top 100, we head upstream past the hot spring area to Nibukawa Onsen Valley.
Surrounded by thick forest, it’s a lovely place to enjoy seasonal changes. In the spring there’s the cherry blossoms, and in fall, the autumn colors…

 

The source of the river flowing in Nibukawa valley is located at Mt. Narabara. Around 8kms from the Nibukawa hot spring area, a trail stretches towards the peak of the mountain.

This is the beginning of the mountain trail.

Said to be a mountain sacred to both Shinto and Buddhism, Mt. Narabara is surrounded by mountains on all sides.

The mountain trail is relatively wide and easy to walk, so you can climb up even with light equipment. Walking along the trail surrounded by the trees is really refreshing!

 

This tree was once the number one ‘child bringing cedar tree’ in Ehime prefecture.
Those who pray at it are said to be blessed with children or with their children growing up healthily.
Even though the tree has withered down to a mere stump, its overwhelming presence attracts all who see it.

A sutra mound (for keeping sacred books i.e. sutras stored underground) from the end of the Heian period (796-1185) was discovered on the mountaintop!
The 71.5 cm tall two-storied Buddhist bronze pagoda has been designated as a national treasure.
The reason why something like this was left in the mountains of Ehime remains a mystery even now.

 

 

Mt. Narabara is where the founder of shugen (mountain ascetism that involves strict practices), En no Ozuno, prayed to the gods.
It is also said to be the place where around 700 years ago, during the period of the northern and southern dynasties (1336-1392), the 98th emperor (Emperor Chokei) hid temporarily while the troops of the northern dynasty were attacking.

There are many legends related to the spot that is even now loved by locals.
If you visit Imabari, try enjoying the hot springs and Mt. Narabara at the same time.
Mt. Narabara

Location: Kiji, Tamagawa-cho, Imabari city, Ehime prefecture
Inquiries: 0898-55-2211 (Imabari city hall, Tamagawa branch)

 

Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Maki Ohashi

 

 

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