With a total length of 2km, Sekichu-kei is a valley located in the western part of Yamaguchi prefecture that has been designated both as a place of scenic beauty, and as a natural monument.
One of the valley's special features is its myriad of columnar structures, stones that were split into column-like shapes as lava cooled and solidified.
There are lots of square or hexagonal stone columns on the cliffs and riverbeds throughout the valley, which is why it was named "Sekichu-kei" ('Stone Column Valley').
This is the entrance to the valley. Beyond the signboard you can find a spacious parking area.
Making it a refreshing forest-bathing route, the trail includes moderate ups and downs.
With the small waterfalls that appear along the route every some dozen meters or so, the surroundings echo with the soothing sound of water!
Among other spots, you can see stone columns on the cliffs of the river pools and along the riverbed, which makes the scenery beautiful yet mysterious.
The columnar joints of Sekichu-kei valley were formed around the late Cretaceous Period (65 million years ago).
Rather than basalt or andesite, they are made of a much more rare quartz-porphyry (volcanic) rock, making them invaluable geology-wise, as well.
A legend of tragic love is associated with Kanzan Waterfall, which flows down a cliff face of columnar joints.
"Otsuu", a young local woman, fell in love with Kinugasa Bansaku, the feudal retainer of Choshu, and this was the place they would come to vow their mutual love.
However, after realizing that they could never be together due to the difference in their social status, Otsuu threw herself into the rapids. After learning of this, Bansaku committed seppuku at the waterfall to follow her…
Because of this legend, Oshidori Kannon temple was built within the valley.
On the last leg of the route, I reach Shosen Bridge, which is located about 1km from the starting point.
After crossing the bridge and walking on a little further, I see Fugen waterfall. Though most people turn around at this point and return along the same route, beyond the waterfall an open space leads to another nature trail.
The bedrock with columnar joints creates unique scenery that cannot be seen anywhere else, and though they only have a height of a couple of meters, there are 16 waterfalls within the Sekichu-kei valley.
How about a walk in the valley with waterfalls and mysterious stone columns?
Location: 1439 Imade, Toyota-cho, Shimonoseki city, Yamaguchi prefecture
Parking: Available (toll-free)
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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