The settlement of Yuyadani (map location) is nestled-amongst the hills of rural Ujitawara and is encompassed within an area known as 'The tea growing capitol of Japan'.
The settlement was home to Nagatani Soen (1681-1788) who was responsible for developing a method of manufacturing Sencha Green Tea that led to today's mainstream tea. A museum, and former residence of Soen, still stands today and is open to the public.
I have passed-through this area many times over the years, on two feet and on two wheels, and the settlement always reminds me of an era long time passed. But today's trip takes me up another valley in search of the Otaki Waterfalls and Shrine (map location). If it wasn't for the kind soul who posted this facility onto Google Maps, I would never have known of it's existence.
After a 30km x 90-minute bike-ride, I arrived at a junction that separated the two valleys of Yuyadani and, since my last visit here, I noticed the local council had posted an information sign detailing visiting-sites in the vicinity. After a quick drink and a banana, I was off.
The open area between the valleys, used for rice-growing . . . .
. . . . soon became compressed as I made my way up the valley. Driving a motor vehicle through here could prove inconvenient, especially if one encountered a vehicle coming the other way. This small Jizo, always a favorite of mine, caught my attention.
I was soon to encounter my first sign of what the area is famous for -
a tea plantation. Albeit a small one.
By now my surroundings were becoming more densely forested and my path more steeper.
Because of the increased gradient, and another Jizo I needed to photograph, I decided to walk the rest of the way.
I didn't have far to go though. A couple-of-hundred meters further up was a collection of buildings and the distinct sound of cascading water. I had arrived at . . . .
I park my bike and set-out to discover the complex and, after a few short steps, am rewarded with the magnificent sight of a series of waterfalls.
Located under an overhanging rock, is this small statue of Daimyojin, the God of World Rectification. An imposing sight, especially it's location. I am keen to clamber my way further up, to the the upper waterfall but, with the ground wet from recent rain and wearing only cycling shoes, I don't take the risk.
I turn to take a look below me and, as I do, I notice this Setsumatsusha, or auxiliary shrine to my left. If I thought my earlier view looking up was magnificent, the view from this point was spectacular.
It's cold, being the middle of winter, and I need to move on. I still have a ride home and more to see. So I say farewell to the Otaki Waterfalls and Shrine and head to the hills. I am keen to return, and hike up the hill overlooking the 'falls, but that won't be until it's not so wet underfoot.
So, until next time, Sayonara.