Red Eye to the Red Eye Falls

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Akame FallsWe gathered in front of Tsu Shinmachi station (津新町駅) at 7:45am on Saturday for a trip to Akame Falls (赤目四十八滝). This is a valley up into the mountains, surrounded by cliffs and enshrouded by trees, which is filled with waterfalls. Properly it is named Akame Shijuuhachi Taki, or Akame 48 Falls. The valley was reportedly a former, secret training location for ninjas. Here’s a shot of one of the first falls. During an August 2005 trip the weather was hot and oppressive; and we were pleased to find the cool water rushing under the canopy acted as a natural air conditioner and gave us a nice escape from the Summer weather.

Akame FallsMany people, upon seeing these images, make comments about Princess Mononoke. It was an animated movie from Miyazaki Hayao in which the hero travels to the home of many Shinto animal gods seeking a cure to an infection he received from a cursed giant boar god. At the culmination of his journey he travels through some sacred forests which were extremely lush, green, and full of life.

Click through to the larger versions of this photo and you can see amazing moss and vines growing near this waterfall. Several narrow spots along the way were riddled with mossy boulders and reminded me of our old cabin on Index Creek. We used to travel upstream hopping from rock to rock, enjoying: the forest around us; the roar of the cataracts; occasional wildlife; and the damp, fresh smell.

Akame FallsOur trail passed above a few of the larger falls. I wrestled with the angle for this shot for a long time. Later, on the way down the valley, a photographer with a nice tripod chose an entirely different angle. I looked over her shoulder and got a sense for what she was trying to do. My current camera couldn’t have resolved a decent image from that angle, but I noted her location as a learning experience.

Lately, awareness of my need for a different camera has increased acutely. I will pick up an 11 megapixel digital SLR and a 12-24mm lens that can focus a lot of light. After that, I may have to chase a few waterfalls and see what I can do.

Akame FallsOften foreigners visiting the 48 falls come back horribly disappointed by the exaggerated count. Several factors go into the difference of opinions. Here’s a shot of a “waterfall”, but anyone growing up in the Pacific Northwest probably would have overlooked this cascade and not even considered including it in the count.

Pairs of falls often come through the rocks adjacent to each other. I think these officially get counted as two falls, but many visitors would easily count them as one.

Akame FallsHere’s another shot with a bridge passing above the falls. This one is low enough that people often look like they are walking across the top of the falls. Unfortunately, every time I tried to shoot this, someone would walk out from behind the rocks. My camera is extremely slow, so I was stumped.

Japanese maples adorn the hillside in this valley; hence, droves of visitors crowd the trails during the Fall to catch the beautiful colors of the leaves turning colors.

The trail can get a little arduous from place to place. A couple of our members were not feeling up to the full course but, in the end everybody went up and back. I was wearing tatami flip flops which I can not recommend to others. There were a couple of tricky spots where durable shoes would have been greatly appreciated. More is forthcoming on my wardrobe choices.

Nose FallsOne waterfall entering from a cliff on the side was the source of a few laughs. Several overhanging ledges looked like runny noses. One could easily enter the falls and get dripped upon… if you so chose. I cropped this shot to show the worst offender. He has a forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, and jaw. On top of that, you can see his nose is clearly dripping into his mouth. Yuck!

Although we had a good time, we returned late. Evening birthday party preparations got squeezed tremendously, but everything turned out beautifully in the end.

More on the party, my haircut, accomplishing impossible feats, prayer and meditation, frog omens, and related topics coming up this week. Many more photos, including my pretty mug, will also provide some visual data.

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6 Responses to “Red Eye to the Red Eye Falls”

  1. Sylvia Says:

    Wow, beautiful!

  2. fightingwindmills Says:

    That looks like an awesome hike! I love that damp smell of moss and ferns. Happy birthday!

  3. Lisa Says:

    I remember a 2005 trip. This was one of the highlights of our trip. We would love to come back.

  4. びっくり Says:

    Sylvia – indeed it is a beautiful place. The trail is a little overdone for my taste, but I excluded most of that from the photos. I will post some more shots from friends’ cameras soon.

    FW – it is an easy enough hike that most folks can enjoy it as well. I discovered a tea house at the top this time. Usually folks don’t go all the way up. Someone told me if you enter from the top you don’t have to pay, but the trail is really set up for enjoying the trip up.

    Lisa – yes, it was a nice escape from the August heat and humidity. Let me know a few days in advance if you are coming. 🙂 We are hoping to take a trip for the fall leaves… and maybe for snow in the winter.

  5. Shedding the Old « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] the Old I wanted to post a lot about the journey to Akame Falls, but time is slipping away fast, so I’ll just post a little. There is a concept of […]

  6. Independence Together « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] Finally, I can tell the story about my trip to Akame Falls in more detail. I played with the mosaic maker a bit to see if it would add anything. Five brave […]

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