People from all over Japan head to the Niyodo River
for its breathtakingly clear, sapphire blue and emerald green waters. While it is most common (and convenient) to tour the area by car, here are two places where you can park your vehicle and hit the trail in search of the famous “Niyodo Blue”.
The Yasui River is a tributary of the Niyodo River with almost unbelievably clear waters. Over time the river has carved out a narrow gorge with sheer moss-covered cliffs surrounded by primeval forest. Although beautiful throughout the year, people flock here in the autumn to see the colors of the season.
is about 1 hour 15 minutes by car from Kochi City to Yasui Gorge and drivers should be aware that the roads get quite narrow in parts. The most visited parts of the gorge start near the Horaiso Lodge, which is the only hotel in the gorge. From here it is possible to drive to parking lots that are located a short distance from the main sights. Those planning to explore the gorge on foot should give themselves about 2 hours for the return journey to and from the gorge's main attractions, Suishobuchi and Sabo Dam, which are said to be two of the best places to appreciate ""Niyodo Blue"". Suishobuchi literaly means crystal pool and, at Sabo Dam, water cascades over a low check dam into another gorgeous pool. Give yourselves extra time if you plan to make side trips to check other beauty spots such as the 25m two-tiered Hiryu-no-Taki waterfall and Seriwari Cave.
Access: About 1 hour 15 minutes drive from Kochi City
The Nakatsu River is another tributary of the Niyodo River and Nakatsu Gorge
, a favorite place for locals to go to enjoy the autumn colors, has become something of a hub for adventure sports such as canyoning and packrafting
. It is also a great place for a light hike, with a well-maintained 2km trail that carries you back and forth across the bubbling river, among giant rock formations.
Like all the walks in this article, the Naktsu Gorge trail is very family-friendly and young children will get an extra kick out of keeping an eye out for statues of the shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Fortune) that can be found along the way.
From Yu-no-Mori Lodge at the entrance to the gorge it is about a 20-minute walk to the spectacular 20m Uryu-no-Taki waterfall which is the target for most visitors. Those who are up for challenge might consider pushing on further up the gorge to Ishibashira, an awe inspiring rock pillar that shoots up out of the Nakatsu River.
About 1 hr drive from Ino IC on Kochi Expressway
About 10 min walk from Nanokawa bus stop (Kuroiwa Kanko Bus)
Both the Yasui Gorge and the Nakatsu Gorge can become very crowded during the Golden Week holiday from late April to early May, the Obon holiday in mid-August, and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays in November when the autumn colors are at their best.