Dakigaeri Gorge, designated as a National Place of Scenic Beauty in Senboku City, located in the eastern part of Akita Prefecture, is a famous sightseeing spot for enjoying autumn leaves.

Every year from early October to early November, the virgin forest turns vibrant with autumn leaves, and the contrast with the cobalt blue stream will wash away your daily stress. Here are the highlights of the one-way 30-minute hiking course.

Best Seasons to Visit Dakigaeri Gorge: Summer and Autumn

Dakigaeri Gorge is 10km long and is located in the midstream of Tama River that flows into Lake Tazawa and Kakunodate Town. You can get there in 15 minutes from JR Kakunodate Station by car; the area is designated as Tazawako-Dakigaeri Prefectural Nature Park.

The name Dakigaeri (hugging back) comes from times when the mountain paths were dangerous and narrow that when people passed each other, they had to hug and support each other to get by.

▲The stone monument at the entrance

The beautiful scenery of odd-shaped boulders, waterfalls, the clear blue stream, and the lush virgin forest of cherry trees and maple trees is called the Yabakei of Tohoku.

Many tourists visit the area from mid-June to late August to see the fresh vegetation and early October to early November to see the autumn leaves.

▲The vibrant autumn leaves and the sound of the stream rejuvenates the soul (photo provided by Tazawako – Kakunodate Kanko Kyokai)

There are walking paths in the Dakigaeri Gorge area, which provide a great experience walking along the river. Some might be put off by exploring a gorge; however, the course is 1.5km long one way and takes about 30 minutes on foot.

Also, there are very few slopes, making the Dakigaeri Gorge hiking course perfect for beginners. We slipped into some comfortable clothes and decided to check out the area.

▲Heading towards the final destination Mikaeri-no-taki (waterfall)

Getting Started: Dakigaeri Shrine

Let’s stop by Dakigaeri Shrine by the entrance of the path before heading in. In 1673 when the former Dakigaeri Village (current Wakamatsu Region) was established, there was a drought that could destroy all their crops.

The villagers prayed for rain at the water source of Dakigaeri, and the crisis was averted. However, with this, there are still many people who visit the shrine to pray for the guardian deity of rain, sacred waters, dragon god, and sericulture.

▲A charming shrine surrounded by a cedar forest (offers may be freely given)

We visited in mid-September. The walking path is a single path going through the forest. The sunlight beaming in through the woods and the sound of water flowing gave us a great start to our hike. The trail is wide enough that you can go around people and say hello as you go by.

▲You can enjoy nature here, but keep an eye out for wild animals such as mamushi (Japanese pit viper)

Walking past Dakigaeri Shrine for 2 to 3 minutes, you will reach the symbol of Dakigaeri Gorge, Kami-no-Iwabashi Bridge.

The oldest suspension bridge in Akita Prefecture

It is the olde…

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