The Source of the Shimanto River

四万十川源流点(Shimantogawa Genryuten)
The hike to the source of the 196-km long Shimanto River is a short, but magical walk that takes you deep into the forests of Tsuno Town.
The hike to the source of the 196-km long Shimanto River is a short, but magical walk that takes you deep into the forests of Tsuno Town.

The source of “Japan’s last pure river,” the dam-free Shimanto River, springs from the slopes of Mt. Irazu. From here the river meanders for 196 kilometers all the way to the Pacific Ocean, passing through the densely forested mountains and fertile floodplains of western Kochi Prefecture. The atmosphere at the source is quite magical, and, with towering trees above and moss-covered tree roots and boulders underfoot, it’s the kind of place the term ‘forest bathing’ describes perfectly. Feeling the fresh, sweet spring water flow through your fingers as it begins its long journey to the Pacific is quite humbling.

It’s only about a 25-minute walk to the source of the river from the trailhead, which is marked by the large, stone Shimanto River Headwaters monument, and, with appropriate footwear and taking due care, it is a walk that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. The path can be slippery, so it is recommended that you make use of the walking sticks left at the trailhead if it has been raining.

The location of the trailhead is quite remote and although it is accessible by road and there is a space for 2 or 3 cars to park, the journey by car can be something of a challenge if you are not used to driving on very narrow roads. That said, the views from the road as it twists and turns up the mountain through tiny farm villages are very pretty.

To enjoy this beautiful area to the fullest, consider basing yourself at Yuzan Shimanto Seiran no Sato. This hotel, constructed from local timber, has six simple, but stylish rooms in which you are lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of the babbling Shimanto River stream right out front. Yuzan Shimanto Seiran no Sato also offers activities, such as making konyaku (a rubbery food made from a kind of potato) and roasting locally-grown tea, which are a fun way to get to know some of the locals.

From Yuzan Shimanto Seiran no Sato, it is approximately 7 km to the Shimanto River source trailhead (20 minutes by car, 90-120 minutes on foot). Be sure stop off at Inaba limestone caves, carved by the Shimanto River over more than 200 million years and said to have been the lair of two dragons, one black and one white. You are also likely to come across bats. Guided tours of the pitch-black caves can also be arranged.

Yuzan Shimanto Seiran no Sato has a restaurant which serves lunch featuring locally grown vegetables to visitors every day except Wednesday (Buffet lunches can be arranged by reservation for groups of 15 or more people on any day except Wednesday).
Address 高知県高岡郡津野町船戸(Funato, Tsuno Town, Takaoka Gun, Kochi Prefecture, Japan)
Telephone Number 0889-55-2021
(Tsuno Town Hall Tourism Section)
Directions●Yuzan Shimanto Seiran no Sato is
・Approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes by car from Kochi City.
・45 minutes by Kochi Koryo Kotsu bus from Susaki Station to Funato Bus Stop (10 minutes walk from Seiran no Sato).

●The entrance to the trail to the Shimanto River source is 7km from Yuzan Shimanto Seiran no Sato (Approx 20 minutes by car).
Website Website
Map Code445 068 509*18

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