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Akame Shijuhattaki Falls

Getting our nature on

Akame - Us and Nature.jpg Akame - A and Tree.jpg

Fridays have turned into the only day we have off each week, as a result of 'paying for the camera' overtime on Thursdays. So we decided to take a friend's advice and venture to parts unknown, and seek some relief from the city heat.

We hopped a train, then another, then another, and nearly two hours later we reached the station of Akameguchi, southeast of Osaka on the border between Nara and Mie prefectures. We had no idea where we were supposed to go, but we knew there was a bus ride involved. I was hungry, so we checked out the small snack shop next to the station. We went in, bought a bag of peanut wafer cookie thingys, and then we saw the bus coming. We rode the bus through the streets of town, past huge Japanese-style homes among rice fields, then up into the hills through actual forest. We saw an eagle as we drove. Finally, some nature.

The bus ride was about 15 minutes, and we arrived at a small village with tourist traps, coffee houses, souvenir shops, and a hot spring bath. The area is part of a national nature preserve, as it is home to the Japanese giant salamander (the world's biggest, it can grow to 1.5m in length). As we were wandering around looking for the Japan Salamander Centre (which breeds the huge amphibians), Andrew said, "Look, a salamander!" I only saw the tail, so we hunted it down. It turned out to be a lizard. The first lizard I've seen in the wild. He was pretty cute!

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We also found a natural spring with drinkable water. As the sign says, it was discovered by the samurai and their peasant farmers over 400 years ago. We gladly dumped our crap Osaka city water and filled our bottles with samurai water. Medicinal properties or not, it tasted pretty good.

Akame - Samurai Water.jpg Akame - Samurai.jpg Not so sure about this guy; he looks more like a ninja to me.

After playing around with the camera a bit more, we made our way to the Japan Salamander Centre. There are probably 30 different types of amphibians on display. I wondered to myself if they have an escaping newt problem too. I took pictures of just about all of them. Let me just say that the new camera is definitely worth the price: you wouldn't know that I was taking the photos through glass of animals that are underwater. Another trip to the Osaka Aquarium is warranted to further test this hypothesis...

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After poking around at the animals for a while, we started up the hiking trail. At one time, the area was known to have 48 waterfalls. There are not that many these days, but there were still a lot. Pictures really do not do this place justice. The trail was well constructed, either carved into the rock, or made of stones, and followed the river. There are stone stairways that climb upwards wherever there is a waterfall. Let me just say that I clung to the railways (where they were provided, that is) for dear life, because the last thing I wanted to do was slip, fall, and break something in the woods of Japan. But the views from the tops of the stairways were well worth the climb. Plus they were part of the trail itself, so if you didn't climb, you didn't get to go any further.

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Akame - Wa.. Blur 2.jpg Akame - Pl..im Here.JPG Akame - Andrew 2.jpg
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Look at the cool effect I can get by playing with the setting on the new camera! This thing is awesome! It's created a photographic monster!
Akame - A and Nature.jpg Akame - Nature.jpg Akame - Court Bridge.jpg

We hiked for about two hours, stopping a lot to take pictures (we have an interesting series of Andrew throwing a stick into the water and celebrating as he watched it go over the waterfall), so when we reached the third checkpoint we were considering turning back. We contemplated this over a shaved ice snack provided by the elderly couple that sell drinks at this point. We decided to turn back, but when we told the couple this, they strongly encouraged us to continue, and that the best waterfall was yet to come. We managed to understand that it was only an additional twenty minutes, so we went on. It was a pretty great waterfall.

Here's Andrew's head in front of it.

Akame - Andrew.jpg

After this we turned back, thanked the old couple, and hiked an hour out. We covered five kilometres, so we were pretty worn out and hungry, and some of us were chafed. I'll let you decide who, but it wasn't me.

As we were looking for a place to finally get something to eat, we walked past a souvenir shop. Something caught Andrew's eye, and we just had to stop and get some photographic evidence.

Akame - A and Anne.jpg What she's doing so far from Avonlea, I guess we'll never know...

By this time, my stomach was making noises that bore some resemblance to the sound bicycle tires make when braking in crushed rock, so it was time to just pick a place and eat whatever looked edible. So we had some really expensive curry and pilaf at one of the restaurants in the village. We finished eating our meal, and the lady operating the restaurant asked us if we were catching the bus. We said yes, and didn't think too much more of it. We then went to the bus stop, and discovered that we were 5 minutes early for the last bus leaving the village that day. We would have been really up a creek had we missed that bus. So as we waited the five minutes for the bus, Andrew went and got himself an extra-dry cold one in celebration of Canada Day (albeit a day early...meh). The bus came, and we said so long to the village, promising we'd be back.

The road between the village and the train station is only wide enough for one car to comfortably drive, while the other is parked waiting to pass. This proves a little frightening in a bus where everything rumbles and rattles and shakes, as you're on the last run of the day, and the driver is anxious to get home. But fortunately we made it back to the train station in one piece. Our train arrived about 10 minutes later, and we slept most of the way back to the steamy city.

Posted by agc_cwm 21:29 Archived in Japan

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