| Centrip Editorial Board

Enjoying Gero's Top Recommended Activities Along with a Hot Spring Stay

Gero Onsen, one of Japan's three most famous hot springs, is a renowned spa destination in the Chubu region. After enjoying shopping in the lively hot spring town and a relaxing soak in the onsen, how should you spend the following day? Below, we introduce you to recommended activities in Gero City to enjoy alongside your hot spring stay.

First up, the cafe trekking tour in the Hida Osaka area.

First up, the cafe trekking tour in the Hida Osaka area. Located at the base of Mount Ontake, a mountain long revered in Japanese mountain worship, the Osaka area features a landscape rich in variety, shaped by the repeated eruptions of Mount Ontake.
Osaka is known as the "town of waterfalls," reputedly having the highest number of waterfalls in Japan, with over 200. A tour, operated by a local guide company, takes you through some of these waterfalls, allowing you to enjoy a cafe experience amidst the forest.

Our guide, Mr. Kumazaki, explains the tour route.
The iron bridge over Mitsudaki Falls mirrors a colossal playground structure.

Leading our tour and the subject of our feature today was Mr. Kumazaki, who is also the founder of a guide company. An experienced nature guide, he is proficient in English as well.

The tour began at Gandate Gorge, and the first thing that struck us was the sheer power of the gorge. Formed by a lava flow around 54,000 years ago, the cross-section of this ancient geological formation is awe-inspiring. Standing before it, we were overwhelmed by the immense scale of the rocks and the dense foliage blanketing their unique formations.

Gandate Gorge: Witnessing nature's majestic creations

Just a short stroll from Gandate Park's parking area lies the first marvel of our journey: Mitsudaki Falls. The area around the falls is a complex network of iron bridges and staircases, creating an experience akin to exploring a colossal playground amidst nature's embrace.

Mitsudaki Falls: A pivotal attraction in the tour's first half
The falls contribute to the site's unique charm

The cafe trekking tour ventures beyond these three cascades, ascending a slightly steeper slope. During this ascent, while tracing animal paths, the guide offers engaging insights, ranging from quizzes about the local wildlife's ecology to fascinating facts about the region's unique topography and the history of the Hida area, including Osaka.

A bell to ward off bears with an unusual shape.
The tranquil trek through the forest continues.

True to its name, "Cafe Trekking" transcends the ordinary nature walk, embracing the concept of a 'portable cafe.' This unique blend combines the joys of hiking with the leisure of a cafe experience.

As the walk progresses and the exertion builds up a healthy sweat, it's time for a well-deserved cafe break. Upon reaching a clearing bathed in dappled sunlight and surrounded by trees, your guide transforms the space into a serene outdoor cafe. A hammock is set up for relaxation, and you are treated to coffee, accompanied by delightful tea snacks.

The view from the hammock in the middle of the forest is absolutely stunning!
On the cup—Life is ASOBI (play).

Whether you luxuriate in the hammock and do nothing or explore deeper into the forest, it's your choice. Since it's a tour limited to one group per day, you can flexibly arrange the tour based on factors like your mood and the weather.

On this particular day, we ventured deeper into the forest. We set out to reach the most challenging areas on the waterfall circuit, Akaganetoyo Falls and Karanidaki Falls.

Engaging with our guide along the way also added to the enjoyment of the tour.

The Akaganetoyo Falls has a drop of 14 meters and is named after its appearance, resembling copper (Aka-gane in Japanese), as the lava has eroded to create this copper-like look. The water volume varies with the seasons, and today none flowed. However, it's fascinating that the pool at the waterfall's base never dries up throughout the year.

The water at Akaganetoyo Falls is so crystal clear that you can see right through it as if it were as clear as glass.

Right next to Akaganetoyo Falls is Karatanidaki Falls, where the impressive force and volume of flowing water leave a lasting impression. The columnar jointing on the cliff walls, shaped by the waterfall, is beautiful, and if the timing is right, you can even see a rainbow formed by the falls.

The powerful torrent of Karatanidaki Falls—the force of water is truly incredible!

Embark on a leisurely cafe trekking tour, weaving through several waterfalls and taking breaks for café time amidst the forest. This 5km exploration circuit allows you to immerse yourself in the richness of Japan's nature, providing a relaxing escape where time seems to slip away.

Along the route, there are plenty of attractions besides waterfalls.
Cross a beautiful suspension bridge, and the finish line is just around the corner.

The tours are held from April to May and October to November. The guide fee is ¥8,800 per person, with a maximum of 4 participants. Apply on the website below.

Exploring Kanayama Kinkotsu Footpath Tour

Next up is an activity in the Hida Kanayama area. Kanayama is located in the southern part of Gero and was once a thriving post town at the crossroads of four feudal domains.

The shrine atop Chinju-san in the town center.
The statue of the legendary two-faced Ryomen Sukuna watches over the town.

In the heart of Kanayama lies a small mountain called Chinju-san, adorned with the statue of Ryomen Sukuna, a legendary local hero known for having two faces and moving through the air. It is revered as a gentle protector of the residents.

The path the guide is walking on is a public road.
Monochrome photographs that capture the former lively atmosphere of the town.

One delightful experience offered in Kanayama, beneath the watchful eye of Chinju-san, is the Kinkotsu Footpath Tour. This tour provides a unique and deep exploration of Japan, quite distinct from the typical image that comes to mind for most people.

The narrow kinkotsu in the photo represents the paths taken in the residents' daily lives.
Even stairs like these are part of the kinkotsu!

Kinkotsu refers to public paths residents used to shortcut past busy main roads, making them indispensable in their daily lives.

In the past, such paths existed throughout Japan; however, due to the encroachment of urbanization, these spaces, ambiguous by nature, gradually eroded. Consequently, few areas remain, especially on the scale of Kanayama, where kinkotsu footpaths are preserved and actively used.

Bustling streets convey the atmosphere of the once-lively town
The retro well water pump is still in use today.

Entering the town of Kanayama evokes a nostalgic ambiance as if stepping back in time to Japan half a century ago. It feels like strolling through the set of a colossal movie.

Even spaces between buildings are part of the kinkotsu!
A once-operational public bath, now closed, adorned with beautiful tiles.

While immersing yourself in such a nostalgic atmosphere, you might find yourself disoriented, perhaps lost. For visitors from outside, discerning whether a path is accessible or private property can be challenging, and Google Maps won't be much help navigating the kinkotsu footpaths.

Gaining in popularity for its resemblance to Studio Ghibli's masterpiece, Howl's Moving Castle.

To fully enjoy the sensation of wandering into such a mysterious world, the Kanayama Kinkotsu Footpath Tour is ideal (of course, with a knowledgeable guide to ensure safety).

The tour typically lasts around 1 to 2 hours. The guide fee is ¥2,000 for 1 to 6 people, with an additional ¥300 for each additional person. Unfortunately, the guide service is available only in Japanese. However, given the unique experience offered here, it's worth checking out the website below if you're interested.

Wrap Up

This article has introduced two recommended activities within Gero City. Both Osaka and Kanayama can be reached by car in approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour from Gero Onsen town. We encourage you to visit these places, complementing your hot spring stay.

For information on cycling in the Hagiwara area within Gero City, please refer to the following article.

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