In transferring my photos last week from my memory card to my (finally-arrived-and-set-up) desktop computer, I noted that I took around 1200 photos during our week in Tohoku.
How do I pick a favorite from that?
Well, instead of sifting through all 1200 with a very critical eye, I just went with the one I can’t seem to get out of my head:
This is from the Dakigaeri Gorge in Akita Prefecture, a pretty short car or bus ride from Kakunodate. I suggested it to my friends Felicity and Nori on a whim. In our week-long adventure in Tohoku, we’d done a fair bit of hiking and other natural exploration, but for some reason, the ever-so-brief mention of this in a brochure I picked up made me want to go.
I’m glad we did as it was my favorite place on the entire trip. Even before you arrive, the story behind the gorge’s name makes you curious. Dakigaeri means “to embrace while looking back” and years ago, the path along the cliffs here used to be so narrow that travelers had to do just that to get around other walkers and keep going. The path is wider now – and partly paved – but you still cross old bridges and go through tunnels that are only just fractionally lit. I took this photo looking out of one tunnel at the aquamarine river below. This photo doesn’t do justice to the actual color but believe me when I say it was shockingly blue.
The best part of the walk? The Mikaeri double-tiered waterfall at the “end” of the trail (The trail used to run for 11km, but a recent landslide means you can only hike in about 30-45 minutes to the waterfall.) It seemed the perfect cap to a hike this memorable. If you are ever in Kakunodate, make the effort to get here. You won’t regret it.