“Shimanto River” Known as The Last Clear Stream in Japan. Discover Unknown Hot Springs, Enjoy The Natural Eel Specialist And More! (Part 2)

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“Shimanto River” Known as The Last Clear Stream in Japan. Discover Unknown Hot Springs, Enjoy The Natural Eel Specialist And More! (Part 2)

Shimanto River, which has over 300 branches, is a playground for the local kids. The river has several, clear branches. Kuroson River – located in the middle reaches - is known as the most beautiful branch of Shimanto River. Enjoy the sights and sounds as you walk along the river.

So far, from the mouth of Shimanto River, we have travelled 80km. Continue the journey on the boat. However, if the flow of the river is fast - due to continuous rain around the upper reaches of the river - the boat will slow down and later may not be able to move forward. This is because the river rises due to the heavy rain; as the river gets narrower as you approach the upper reaches, the flow gets faster too. If you really can’t continue by boat, you will have no choice but to land at a safe spot and wait a while until the river conditions improve. If you happen to take a break at a place where there are desserts, do try the Shimanto’s famous “black tea” ice cream. Kochi is the origin of Japanese black tea and the technique of growing black tea has been imported from India.

Should you need to stay the night, you can check out Taisho Onsen, at the middles reaches of Shimanto River. It is about 97km from the mouth of the river. The inn’s tatami-mat rooms are comfortable. Soak in the inn’s relaxing Western-style spa, and later feast on dinner comprising local ingredients. Kochi is famous for sweetfish and bonito, for example.

On the third day of the trip, continue travelling by boat to the source of Shimanto River. After travelling a total of 115km from the mouth of the river, you will notice some changes in the river. As you approach the upper reaches, the river gets narrower and you will also see rocks.

You will enter the upper reaches of Shimanto River after travelling for 125km from the mouth of the river. You will come across a low water bridge along the way. Do be careful as the waters in this area are shallow and the current may be fast due the river getting narrower. You may have to stop and land the boat at the shore a few times to keep moving forward along the upper reaches. The width of river at the upper reaches is about 50m, compared to the width of 800m at the mouth of Shimanto River. One of the spots you can land at is a camping site. It is open to the public.

Later, resume your boat ride along the upper reaches. If the currents are too strong or if the river is too narrow and the boat can’t move forward, just land on shore and look for accommodation. One such place near the upper stream of Shimanto River is an inn called Genryu No Ie. It is located near the origin of the river and even has day spa facilities. You may need to walk for a while to reach the inn, depending on where your boat has landed.

On the fourth day of this trip of the source of Shimanto River, if river conditions do not allow you to travel by boat, another alternative would be to walk. So far, you would have travelled about 177km from the river’s mouth, so the origin is only about 20km away. The width of the river in this area is only 1.5m to 2m. The origin of Shimanto River is located in the middle of Mt. Irazu, which is 1,336m high. So walk along a road leading to the foot of Mt. Irazu and begin climbing. Watch out for signposts which let you know how far you are from the origin. The path becomes steeper as you enter the mountain. After a five-hour hike, you will enter the last sector of the journey. Keep pushing through the trackless area and you will finally arrive at the origin of Shimanto River. The water here is crystal clear. End your four-day adventure by sipping the delicious cold water from the source.

THIS WEEK'S TIPS:

  • “Black tea” ice cream is a must-try item when visiting Shimanto
  • Walk during the last stretch towards Shimanto River’s origin as the river gets rather narrow and the currents are strong

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