It was by sheer coincidence that I had been given a map of activities, for the outdoor enthusiast in the Yamashiro province of south Kyoto, that I discovered the Kamodani Waterfalls.
My first venture to the 'falls was by bike and it was while I was reading this noticeboard, with map
of the course, when three ladies approached me. They were horrified that I was going to attempt this course with my mountain-bike slung-over my shoulder. "Oh no,no,no" they said, "it's far too dangerous to take your bike with you, and with those shoes you are wearing". So I returned a week later, again on bike, but with hiking boots in my backpack, for my second attempt.
. . . . and I immediately come to appreciate the advice the ladies had given me. Suddenly I found myself enclosed in this gorge with vertical walls of rock on both sides.
It was from this point that I was about to get my boots wet and get-into some rock-hopping - in conditions such as these, a very dangerous practice.
Soon it was time for the first of several rope-climbs. These two took me above the stream but, a little further on, I would be taken up a steep hill, over a ridge, and descend back to the stream.
And there, obscured by the surrounding foliage, was this beauty.
As it was a hot day, and I had worked-up a sweat, what better way to freshen-up than with a refreshing cold rinse. I would have stripped-off but one never knows who is lurking in the bushes.
Then, before I knew it, I had reached the end, and the track back to where I commenced this exploration. It was a 1.6km x 2-hour meander through some of the most magnificent scenery I have experienced, and it ended too soon. But it wasn't going to end there. I decided that I needed to return and, when completing the course, continue and explore some more. But I had to wait until the 'rainy season' had run-it's-course before I could return.
. . . . and Beyond.
Six weeks later I returned to route-307, this time by bus. After re-exploring the stream and it's waterfalls, I put my 'no plan, getting lost' idea into motion, and followed the stream further up the valley. I few hundred meters on and I reached the confluence of two streams then, on my right, I spotted a disused track.
Some more bush-bashing, some more walking in circles, and I am again reunited with a track. Of sorts. And, before I know it, I emerge at this clearing. Thanks to my friends translation, I am informed that this is the highest point in Joyo City. As this site isn't marked on the map, and I am without my G.P.S. device, I am unable to pinpoint my exact location.
Five minutes on and I reach another summit, and another junction. As it's closing-in on midday, I decide to take the weight off my feet, and break for lunch. I still don't have the foggiest idea where I am, but hey, that's what I like about my 'no plan, getting lost' outings. The usual fare - curry, bread-rolls, banana and washed-down with cafe au-lait.
About 500-meters on, after crossing another familiar track, I re-entered another forest. Then the weirdest of things happened. Suddenly, on the ground in front of me, were these two drinking vessels - Japanese tea-cups? Sake cups? Maybe the latter. As I was admiring them ( I have this fondness for Japanese pottery) I got the feeling someone was looking over my shoulder. One never knows what is lurking in the forest.
Behind me, partly obscured by a tree, was this interesting collection of religious icons, well the seven at the rear anyway (I'm not sure about the front two). Enquiries revealed that I had arrived at, what was once, the village of Taga-Niita. Erected in the mid-Edo Period, the village was deserted in the early- Showa Period. The statues at the rear are called Rokutai Sekibutsu and were carved 1771.
Moving-on from here I encounter one more summit and, from here, it's all downhill (no pun intended), as the track & markers suddenly become nonexistent. In situations like this I keep an ear out for running water - when hiking in such environments, the chance of their being a stream nearby is high - and, before long I am rewarded with a crystal-clear stream that brings me to a unsealed and rocky road. Recognizing it as the road I had crossed-over an hour-or-so earlier, I knew I wasn't far away from civilization. In this instance, the town of Ida. From here it was an hours walk to my station, and my return home. A good hot shower, a lovely dinner, and a few cans-of-beer topped-off what was another great day.
The remains of the village of Taga-Nitta has got my curiosity juices running and am planning a return visit, this time on two wheels, and what lurks amongst the forest in the area. So, until next time, Sayonara.
Images of Kamodani-no Taki.
Video of Kamodani-no Taki.